Pieniazek Kukulka (Cuckoo) SP-PHN at Krakow
Photographed in the Krakow Aviation Museum on 12 August 2008.
This home-built wooden aircraft was designed and built by Eugeniusz Pieniazek in the early 1970s, as a means of defecting from Poland to escape the Communist regime, who severely curtailed private aviation.
The design was based on the Turbulent although modified parts from various gliders were incorporated, such as the wings of the SZD-8 Joskolka (Swallow) and the tail of the SZD-24 Foka (Seal). The Continental A-65 engine and the landing gear were adapted from the Piper Cub.
The Cuckoo was built in Pieniazek's apartment in a block of flats in Leszno. Parts too large to go down the staircase were passed out through the window to be lowered by ropes. The first flight took place in the spring of 1971, and it was the first home-built aircraft to be registered in the People's Republic of Poland.
On September 13, 1971 Eugeniusz Pieniazek took off from Krosno in the south-east of Poland in his escape attempt. He flew through very severe weather over Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and landed in Subotica, Yugoslavia. After spending a few months in a Yugoslavian prison he managed to emigrate to Sweden, where he lived until the 1990s.
In 1990 the Cuckoo received new landing gear and a more powerful Continental 4-cylinder boxer C-90 engine which was rated at 89 bhp (66 kW), being made airworthy again.
Eugeniusz Pieniazek donated the aircraft to the Museum on the 34th anniversary of his epic flight, 13 September 2005.
Span: 26 ft 3 in, Length: 17 ft 8 in, Take-off weight: 983 lbs, Max. speed: 130 mph, Ceiling: 6,560 ft, Range: 310 miles.
Picture added on 20 September 2008