Prof. RNDr. Zdenek Kopal (1914-1993)
Ceska posta issued a stamp from the series “Personalities” dedicated to Zdenek Kopal.Prof. RNDr. Zdenek Kopal, DrSc. (4. 4. 1914 in Litomysl – 23. 6. 1993 in Wilmslow, United Kingdom) was a Czech astronomer and astrophysicist, famous also in the fields of numerical mathematics, ballistics and aerodynamics. His most important scientific work was related to variable stars, especially close eclipsing binary stars, and he researched the Moon and terrestric planets. He is considered the most significant Czech astronomer of the 20th century. When he was a small boy, his grandfather Josef Lelek, a teacher at the council school in Jicin, awoke his interest in the natural sciences. So it was not surprising that at the age of only fifteen, when his family moved to Prague, he joined the Czech Astronomical Society. There at the Stefanik observatory, he began his research on variable stars and, still a high school student, he published several scholarly articles in international scientific journals.
Beauties of our country series: Cervena Lhota
Cervena Lhota is a Renaissance water chateau in the eastern part of South Bohemia.The chateau is located on a rock, which became an island in the chateau pond after the damming of the valley and the increase in the water level. The chateau consists of an enclosed four-wing layout around a square courtyard. Above the entrance, there is a tower. An access road leads to the chateau across a stone bridge.The stronghold was owned by the Lhotec family of Zasmuky from the second half of the 14th century. However, the first written mention dates from as late as 1465: the Land Registry shows the division of the inherited property between Vaclav and Petr of Zasmuky. In the following years Lhota changed its owner to Divis Boubinsky of Ujezd, from whom Jan Kaba of Rybnany bought it in 1530 and had the old Gothic fortress converted into a more comfortable Renaissance chateau, known afterwards as Nova Lhota. He sold the chateau in 1597 to Vilem Rut of Dírna, who reconstructed it in late Renaissance style and painted its façade red. This is the reason for its current name, Cervena, or “Red” Lhota.
Eugen Cihak’s Airplane: RAPID, 1912:Eugen Cihak was born on 31 May 1885 in Croatia, where his father was employed. In 1889 his family moved to Pardubice, where E. Cihak graduated from business school. After that he worked at the Laurin & Klement factory in Mlada Boleslav. In that year Cihak and his cousin Jan Kaspar, the first Czech aviator, began work on the development and production of their first airplane. Success came on 16 April 1910, when Jan Kaspar completed a short flight at the Pardubice military training ground. In June of that year the test flight was repeated in front of 22 thousand spectators. In 1913 Jan Kaspar left his aviation career because of the lack of an international aviation diploma and a functioning machine and Eugen Cihak was thus thrust to the forefront of the media attention at that time. Cihak made his first flight on 16 July 1911, but due to technical problems had to land prematurely. It is reported that during 1911 – 1914, Cihak completed 33 flights. On 7 May 1913 Cihak earned an international pilot diploma with the Austrian serial number 51. However, his aviation career was not renewed after the first World War. Together with his brother ran a truck transport company and he also worked as an aircraft mechanic and later as the manager of the airport in Kbely a Ruzyne.In his lifetime Eugen Cihak constructed 16 aircraft. His most successful model was the Rapid at the end of 1912, which reached the at that time remarkable speed of 130 km/h.
Prototype of the first Czechoslovak vehicle R1 for the Prague Metro:R1 trains were initially developed by CKD for the Prague Metro but in the end they did not make their way into the metro system at all.Development of these trains started in 1968 and had to be completed in 1971.The weight was a big limitation since the beginning because the Nuselsky (formerly Gottwalduv) Bridge was not built to withstand heavy loads.The car was made of lightweight aluminium alloys and fiberglass and had a very modern design.
Unfortunately, the two created prototypes never carried any passengers although they passed all operational and stress tests on the Velimi trial course and on the not-yet-finished track circuit nearby the Kacerov yard. In January 1972, because of some unexplained causes, one of the R1 trains unbraked and crashed into the other R1 train, leading to a complete destruction of both trains. The main designer, Antonin Honzik, suffered injuries during the crash. Only two cars of both trains survived the crash without damage; they were transported into the Technical Museum in Brno where they rusted (1988).
In the following long decades, cars with an obsolete design (ECS, later 81-71, 81-71M and M1) were supplied by a contractor from Mytishchi (Soviet Union). These heavyweight Soviet trains even necessitated a complete overhaul (strengthening) of the base of the metro tracks inside the Nuselsky Bridge.