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A Century of aviation in Serbia

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Soon, a balloon started to be used in the military. In 1794, the French had two balloon companies which they used in the wars of 1795/96 and 1870/71. Germany established military ballooning in 1870, Great Britain in 1878, Italy in 1884, Russia in 1885, Austro-Hungary in 1886, and USA in 1892. In 1893, in Serbia, introducing balloons into the military was planned, development of the world aviation followed and a few articles published.

The first aviation expert in Serbia was Lieutenant Kosta Miletic, selected owing to his physical and mental abilities. He got the rank of pilot of tied and free balloons at the Technical Aeronautical School near Petrograd (February 14, 1901 – November 12, 1902), and he was also trained for handling messenger pigeons. According to his projects, Serbian armed forces posed messenger pigeon stations (in 1908 in Medosevac near Nis and in 1909 in Pirot), and bought two free spherical and one tied kite – balloon from the company "August Ri¬din¬ger" from Augsburg. At the reception ceremony, on April 19, 1909, Kosta Miletic flew a spherical balloon called “Serbia” under Serbian flag. One balloon was provided from Russia. A gas chamber was ordered from the company "Dil¬man" in Berlin, and field winch from St Petersburg. A hydorogen unit was provided from a Swiss company „Erliken“. The equipment was delivered to Serbia in 1909 and 1910. The conditions for the use of the balloon were created in 1913, when the hydrogen unit was activated. Serbian military balloons were used in the Second Balkan and the First World War.

Among the first in our country, the following airmen flew the machines heavier than the air: PhD Vladimir Aleksic from Pancevo (on October 17, 1909, he flew a two-wing glider launched by a rubber rope) and Ivan Saric from Subotica (on June 1910, he flew an aircraft he constructed himself). The following airmen came to Belgrade: a Czech Rudolf Simon, on September 1910; a Russian Boris Maslenikov in December 1910 and January 1911; a Czech Jan Cermak and Italian Gianni Vidmar in 1911. In 1912, a Slovenian Edward Rusijan, flying a plane constructed by Mihajlo Mercep, was killed on January 7, 1911 near Nebojsa Tower on Kalemegdan. The idea of aviation was especially supported by the Serbian youth.

The first competition for the cadet airmen in Serbia was opened on May 1911, and in the following year the First class of Serbian pilots started their training: lieutenants Milos Ilic and Jovan Jugovic, second lieutenant Zivojin Stankovic, sergeant Mihajlo Petrovic and subsergeants Miodrag Tomic and Vojislav Novicic successfully completed their flying training at a pilots’ school in the small town of Etamps near Paris from May 21 to September 8, 1912 and got the rank of pilot. In the autumn of 1912, Serbia got the aircraft for its armed forces.

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