Three Lithuanian pilots began a glider flight across Europe on August 11, taking off from Lithuania and ending in Portugal. Algirdas Šimoliūnas, Sakalas Uždavinys and Ignas Bitinaitis aim to cover a total distance of 4,000 kilometres to the Atlantic Ocean in 10 days without a motor – flying about 400 kilometres with a single take-off each day, at an average speed of 90-130km/h.
According to Šimoliūnas, a route of this length has never been covered by any Lithuanian or European glider without an engine. This will be the longest European gliding flight to a destination in the history of aviation, he explained. In general, long-distance flights in Europe are not a common undertaking. Gliders usually fly a route and return to the same airport from which they took off. “We have been preparing for this flight since the winter. We will be flying all over Europe and we don’t know the exact route, because it will depends on weather conditions, so we have to contact many more airports than we will be using. We are currently in contact with 40 aerodromes in Poland, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal,” the pilot noted.
In addition to the three pilots, a ground team with three vehicles is also making the trip, with a ground team leader, technical support and communication teams.
The team took off from Paluknis Aerodrome, located on the Vilnius-Druskininkai route.
The flight is intended as a commemoration of the 90th anniversary of Darius and Girėnas’ 1933 flight across the Atlantic.