Aviation pioneer, native, pilot Karl Illner was born in Žacléř in the Trutnov region on July 14, 1877. As an adult, he was involved in the development of aircraft in the Viennese workshop of Igo Etrich. The machines were rather bouncing, but in 1909 Illner had great success when he flew the aircraft at an altitude of about five meters about 200 meters without landing.
The following year, Illner flew in a new machine called the Dove. The pilot made great progress in 1910, on April 13 he lasted eight minutes in the air, and in 11 days even less than half an hour! It was with Holubice that he became most famous and later performed at exhibitions in Vienna, Budapest or in Ústí nad Labem.
The air shows attracted thousands to tens of thousands of spectators, one of whom was even attended by Emperor Francis Joseph I. Illner’s star rose rapidly in 1910, setting a world record for flight duration in November as he stayed in the air for just over four hours on a passenger plane.
In 1912, Karl Illner completed an exhibition in Ústí nad Labem, which tragically entered history. On Saturday, September 28, the organizers marked a place for spectators in the meadow, in the places where the Skřivánek housing estate stands today, and set up a tent as an improvised hangar.
In the afternoon, a crowd of several thousand paid spectators gathered on the spot. Illner took off into the air at three-quarters to five. However, it lasted only a little over a minute and a half, because the aircraft began to lose stability, so the pilot decided to make an emergency landing. As he approached the ground, he noticed that two people were running across the meadow in front of the plane, according to the official website of the city of Ústí nad Labem. Illner could no longer prevent the accident.
The pair of spectators lay helplessly on the ground after the collision. It was the mayor of Stříbrníky Franz Rehn and his wife. The propeller caused fatal head injuries.
However, neither the pilot nor the organizers were to blame for the accident. According to the investigators, the mayor refused to leave the meadow, despite repeated warnings from the organizers. “The organizers offered Rehn a free place among the spectators, but he argued that he did not have a collar and was therefore not properly dressed.” it is written about a tragic event on the website of the city.
Illner collapsed after the accident, but due to the circumstances, no one blamed him for the deaths of the two people. The mistake was not even on the side of the plane, because Illner was not caused by an emergency fault on the engine, but probably by air vortices.
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