Jan Vlček, legend of Czech aviation, was born 100 years ago

Odolena Voda, July 10, 2022– Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jan Vlček (10 July 1922 – 2 January 1984), a great figure in Czech aviation. He contributed to a number of innovative approaches in the design of jet aircraft. He contributed to the development of the L-29 Dolphin and subsequently became the chief designer of the L-39 Albatros training jet, which is still cruising the world’s airways today.

The development of training jet aircraft in Aero Vodochody is inseparably linked with the name of the chief designer Ing. Jan Vlček. He was a member of the “Central Construction Team”, then based at the Research and Testing Institute of Aviation, where he was involved in the development of the first jet L-29 Dolphin. Vlček followed classical methods in design but was also able to apply innovative technical solutions. His strength was in a dynamic leadership of the team.

“He represented the chief designers in official meetings, pushed through technical improvements that he himself designed. After taking the prototypes to tests and to victory in an international comparison in 1961 in Monin, near Moscow, he was appointed a chief designer. The L-29 aircraft, when introduced into serial production at Aero Vodochody and Let Kunovice (and with the involvement of other Czechoslovak suppliers, especially the engines from Motorlet – Walter), had to go through a series of design refinements, which were led by Mr. Vlček,” recalls his specific contributions Pavel Kučera from Aero Vodochody, who personally remembers Jan Vlček.

Subsequently, Vlček became the chief designer in the development of the new-generation L-39 Albatros training jet, which was the first type of 2nd-generation training jets and one of the first types with a turbofan engine. After 1977 it was produced in numerous series for Eastern European, African, and Asian countries. In total, some 2,800 of them were part of air forces of three dozen nations and have remained the most widely used training jets in the world today.

This fact alone shows that Ing. Jan Vlček and his team managed to create a timeless machine. After the Albatros, Vlček was also involved in the development of an updated version of the L-39MS with a higher thrust power unit. However, he did not live to see its flight, having died after an unfortunate accident on 2 January 1984.

The legacy of Jan Vlček and especially his innovative thinking, friendly atmosphere, and great professionalism he established in the company has persisted in Aero to this day. The concept of the L-39 designed by him became the basis for the new series L-39NG aircraft.

Lukáš Hora, PR Manager
mailto: lukas.hora@aero.cz

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