Plzeň, Bory
a former airport · Slovanské údolí 159/109, 318 00 Plzen-Plzeň 3, Czech Republic
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Patrolling above the western border

Available in: English | Česky

In 1951, the airport in Plzen-Bory became the first place of posting for Josef Pavlík, a fresh graduate of the Air force academy. Josef had proven himself in exacting combat training with live fire at ground and air targets, and he was soon promoted to the position of squadron commander. Since 1952, the regime on the western border of Czechoslovakia was getting stricter. Josef was given the task of patrolling the border. “Because the woods there had already been cut down, it was easier to patrol the border”. When American aircraft were detected on the western side of the border, he had to immediately take off. “The border is quite fuzzy and they would fly at an altitude of one hundred to two hundred meters. Sometimes they would cross the border for a moment.” However, he would never catch up with the Americans. “They had better radars than us and they had the superior information. They were much ahead of us.” During his period at the Bory airport he also witnessed a night mission against American planes that appeared above Plzen. “They probably got lost, but it could also have been a provocation.” The western troops at the border were responsible also for another combat operation, when they let out balloons across the border carrying anti-communist leaflets. “At first we cut them down with propellers and later we even shot them down.”

Plzeň, Bory

Available in: English | Česky

The airport in the Pilsner quarter of Bory was founded already at the beginning of the 20th century and as such it was one of the first airports in the country. During World War II it was used by the German Luftwaffe for military purposes. After the liberation in May 1945, it briefly served U.S. troops for the repatriation of prisoners of war to the West. Subsequently, the airport was taken over by the Czechoslovak army and served as the seat of the 22nd Airborne Fighter Division established in 1951. About two years later the air craft stationed at the Bory airport were upgraded to jet planes that remained in duty until the 1960s. The airport was later used by a helicopter squadron. Military use of the airport was terminated in 1991 and the airport was shut down altogether four years later. Under the Communist regime the airport was supposed to serve as the starting point in the case of a military operation to protect the skies above the western border. The former airport has been turned into an industrial zone and only a few hangars that nowadays serve as storage rooms hint at the former airport that once used to be here.

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