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A Century of aviation in Serbia

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The aviation command of the Serbian armed forces was set up on December 24, 1912; the commander was Major Kosta Miletic. It comprised: a plane squad (12 planes), a balloon squad (3 balloons), and a hydrogen unit and a messenger pigeon service. It was located in Nis, at the airport on Trupalsko field. Serbia is among the first 15 countries in the world which had aviation and among the first five which used aircraft in combat actions (the Balkan wars). Sergeant Mihajlo Petrovic, the first Serbian pilot, was killed on a combat task near Skadar, on March 20, 1913, thus being the first victim of the Serbian military aviation, the second in the world.

At the beginning of the First World War in 1914, the Serbian armed forces comprised: a plane squad with four planes and a balloon squad with two balloons. After the Albania’s Golgotha, the Serbian armed forces and its airmen arrived at Corfu. An Aviation Squadron with an Aviation depot and a workshop was formed and deployed at the Thessaloniki front. In May 1916, “Serbian aviation” was set up - the headquarters and five Serbian-French squadrons. In 1916, Serbian Aviation Squadron had 270 men (32 pilots, 16 reconnaissance operators and 40 mechanics). “Njeporsko squad” was formed on December 16, 1916, and the First Serbian Squadron on January 17, 1918, with Captain Branko Vukosavljevic as their commander. After forming the Second Serbian Squadron, on May 1, 1918, the Serbian Aviation Squadron with about 500 men and 40 planes was formed and took part in the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki front. By the end of 1918, the Serbian Aviation Squadron arrived at Novi Sad via Skoplje, Nis and Belgrade. Both at the Thessaloniki front and in the combat actions for liberating their country, Serbian aviation performed more than 3,000 sorties. In the Balkan wars and the First World War, Serbian aviation used four balloons, as well as 180 planes of 36 different types and models. 75 pilots, 50 reconnaissance operators, a large number of aviation mechanics and other specialists were trained. Serbian military aviation was the foundation stone of the aviation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

At the beginning of 1919, in Novi Sad, Aviation Command, the First Pilots‘ School and Aviation Arsenal were set up, and in 1920, the Aviation Department within the Ministry of the Army and Navy, as well as the First Aviation Regiment were also established. Rules and regulations were set for organization, training and education. Aviation became one of the armed services within the armed forces comprising three major components: operational, army and navy. From 1923 to 1930, the air force was organized into brigades, regiments, air force groups and squadrons for reconnaissance, bombing and fighter combat, as well as aeronautical technical parks and workshops. Meteorological service, airport network and air defense system was established. The law on securing flight crew, as well as aeronautical regulations for peacetime and wartime period were passed, and extra payments for flight service were introduced. Significant results were achieved at numerous international aeronautical competitions. In 1927, an army-level Air Force Command was established and air force military schools and academies were developed. Serbian airmen founded a national aero club and joined the international aeronautical associations. An air transport company was founded and the first commercial air lines opened.

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