When Keizer’s German army took Kaunas in the end of August in 1915, they chose the available wide space west of Veiverių Street and fortress central bulwark to establish an airfield for widely used Zeppelins and combat airplanes. From the North side the field was limited by the road to the 1st battery through Vesole county mansion (later – Linksmadvaris), from the South it is limited by the road to the 2nd battery and the railway coming from the 2nd fort towards the 1st is sided from the West side.
Germans built Zeppelin hangar on the South side, two plane hangers were placed on the North side near Linksmadvaris and leveled the field of around 500×500 metres for planes to take off and land.
They built a huge hangar of 240 metres in lenght, 44 metres in width and 40 metres in height made from steel framed planks and glass windows for a Zeppelin in Autumn of 1915.
A Zeppelin hangar was made of 40 frames, 20 metres in height each, attached to a girder. Truss kicks were placed on each side of the frames, prejecting out of the building about 12 metres.
A combat Zeppelin LZ-98 was placed in the Zeppelin Hangar in February 1916
In July of 1916, LZ-98 was replaced by another combat Zeppelin LZ-86.
A German combat Zeppelin LZ-120 was placed in the hangar until May of 1917.
Germans built two plane hangars, administrative building (later used as armory and photo laboratory) and a water tower on the Linksmadvaris side of the airport’s outskirts. A few more buildings were placed for troops, pilots, inventory, etc. outside the airport’s area in Viesuluavos county mansion.
During the formation of Lithianian military air force (then was part of aviation) in 1919, they took over military hanagars from the Germans and from 3rd of March, Lithuanians piloted LVG C.VI planes to the front. On the 2nd of May Air Force actively participated in freeing Ukmerge and from 17th of May temporary basing in Kedainiai, they attacked Russian troops based in and around Panevezys. Temporaly created combat squad (5 pilots, 6 scouts, 4 planes LVG C.VI) scouted and bombed Daugpils and Gryva Fort from temporary airbase in Utena.
Due to combat, the Lithuanian war aviation school suspended its training of young pilots until Autumn of 1919.
On January 15th, 1920 a training squad was formed, commander of the squad was named Senior lieutenant Pranas Hiksa and squad’s instructor was O. Rahn recruited from Little Lithuania region. Due to a respite in Independence fighting, the training of young pilots resumed. On 1st of April 1920, the training squad was renamed to 1st squadron. On the 1st of September squadron’s commander was named Lieutenant J. Kumpis and new training squadron’s commander was named Major A. Senatorskis.
Albatros C.III in first Lithuanian Air Force markings, used from 1919-03-01 to 1920-11-17. In total Lithuanian Air Force had acquired 12 Albatros C.III.
During the fight with Poland in July-November of 1920, 1st squadron took off from Kaunas airport and participated in 93 combat flights that conculuded major damage to the enemy. In the fight with Polish military, the most flights were done by J.Dobkevičius (24 combat flights), J.Šabanavičius (23), V.Šenbergas (18), A.Vasnevskis (16), A.Stašaitis(12), J.Pranckevičius (12), S.Jakštys (10), J.Kumpis (9), V.Jablonskis (7), P.Hiksa (7), J.Kraucevičius (6).
During bombardent of Polish Army’s captured Varena Railway Station, LVG C.VI #9090 was shot down and heavily hurt squadron leader Lieutenant J. Kumpos and scout Lieutenant J. Pranckevicius were taken to captivity. On 10th of October, Lieutenant J. Kumpis died.
In 1921 Lithuanian Air Force decided to acquire newer more modern fighters. It was decided to those would be English Martinsyde F-4s because the government allocated 500 000 golden coins and donations of 90 000 golden coins came from American Lithuanians, thus for their support it was decided that Martinsaid would in honor of those donators and named Americans.
On April 30th, 1922 an airline route opened between Konigsberg and Moscow with stops in Kaunas and Smolensk by a German and Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic airline company Deraluft. Until 1930 this airline route was not regular due to the weather. The planes and cargo was dedicated to control by Air Force. In 1930, due to airport expansion and building of a terminal the passenger service was improved.
In 1922, Dobi-1 was constructed by J. Dobkevicius. It was designed in 1921 and manufactured by 1st squandron’s mechanics in their free time. In July of 1922 it was tested by the designer. It was one man wooden airplane with 2 cilinders 30AG engine Haacke HFM-2 that could reach 175km/h and was the fastest plane of such engine type.
In 1923, Lithuanian Air Force bought 10 surveillance plane SVA-10 with spare parts for 745 000 Lira from an Italian company Aeronautica ansaldo Societa Anonima di Torino. They were brought to Kaunas on June 3rd and started to be assembled. On June 9th, 7 assembled planes were tested in the air and were transferred to 2nd squadron. The planes were served until 1930. Italian made plane with 200 horse powered engine SPA-6A could reach speed of 200km/h. These planes were not bought armed but a pilot’s machine gun Vicker and a surveillance photo camera were placed on the plane in 1925.
On 1923, April 1st the 3rd squadron was started to be formed. Squadron’s commander was named combar pilot Lieutenant Antanas Stasaitis. In June, when the 2nd squadron was rearmed with new SVA-10 planes, the 3rd squadron was given a few surveillance planes LVG C.VI that were successfully used for six years.
In the beginning of 1924, aviation park was relocated from the barracks near the Zeppelin hangar to Upper Freda former artillery workshops because of increased number of Air Force squadrons and planes. Under the command of engineer Adolfas Bliumentalis, planes were not ontly repaired but also constructed.
On June 6th 1925, 8 new Letov Š-20L fighters were brought to Kaunas from Czechoslovakia accompanied by 20 Lewis and 28 Vicker machine guns. The 1st squadron equipped with these fighters was a true fighting squadron.
On September 1st, 1925, the 4th squadron was started to form with combar pilot Senior Lieutenant Leanardas Peseckas as its leader. The squadron was used for surveillance and consisted of Halb.C.V surveillance planes and one Alb.C.XV plane.
On May 1st, 1927 Lithuanian Air Club was formed to increase popularity of aviation and develop air sports. Combat pilot Captain Jeronimas Garolis formed the first civilian pilot group using Albatros B.II donated by Lithuanian Air Force in 1928-1930.
When Lithuanian Air Club was formed, the flights from the airport took place simultensiously with Air Force. Airport was divided into civilian and military regions and since the contruction of a hangar, the whole air club’s activity was performed near current S.Darius and S. Girenas Street.
During the Summer of 1928, Lithuanian Air Force added Italian steel framed fighters biplane fighters FIAT CR.20, manufactured at FIAT’s division of Aeronautica d’Italia in Turin. In total of 15 fighters that were capable of flying at the speed of 270 km/h, climb upto 7 km, range of 800 km powered by 410 HP liquid cooled engines. These planes were allocated to the 1st squadron.
In 1929, there were hangars built for four squadrons and a building for Metrological and Photographic services was under construction.
In 1929, two reinforced concrete hangars had been built on the South side of the airport. They were similar in dimensions (20×50 m) but had different roofing. Both of them had twodouble-leaf sliding doors for each squadron. When opened the doors measured up to 20 m in width and 6 m in height. The height of the hangars was 9 metres.
Brick photo laboratory was built between the training and fighting squadrons’ plane hangar and due south – squadron buildings.
During the summer of 1929, Lithuanian Air Force bought long distance surveillance planes A.120 made by Italian FIAT Aeronautica D’Italia in Turin. 20 planes were nicknamed Ansaldais, they were the biggest purchase made in Lithuanian aviation history. They were allocated to the 3rd and 4th surveillance squadrons.
ON 1930 friendly aircraft group from USA, lead by pilot, major A. Doolitili visited airfield.
In 1931, the territory of airfield was divided into two parts: district of civil aviation (north side of an airfield, near current S. Darius and S. Girėnas street) and military aviation district (soldiers houses district near current Karo aviacijos street). Kaunas air station, Lithuania’s Air club (near air station constructed hangar for LAK planes) operated in the civil aviation district. Hangar built by German constructors was used by Military aviation training squadron, but when KAM trob. NR 14 was constructed in the southern side, Military aviation passed on the hangar to Aviation division of Ministry of Transport. Creation of civil aviation was taken care by Lithuania’s Air club, so temporarily this hangar was used by Lithuania’s Air club.
In the Military aviation district the biggest buildings were hangars for reconnaissance and fighter plane squadrons. (KAM trob. No.24 and No.25), squadrons building (KAM trob.No.23), photo laboratory (KAM trob. No.26), later building for Training squads (KAM trob. No.14), garages for cars, technical warehouses, shooting, railway ramp for cargo, guard building were built.
Approximately 27 m. to the east from LAK hangar, stood stone 15 m. long, 6 m. wide, and 3 m. height warehouse (constructed in 1930) with ridge roof, covered by galvanized iron. On the south side warehouse had 2 doors and 4 windows. Further 10.5 m east from LAK Hangar there was built an air communication station that was first in Lithuania made of bricks and having dimension of 11x18x4.5 m. On the south side of the façade, there were three glassed doors, windows covered all walls, ridge roof. Canteen, customs, passport control and communication institutions were placed in the building. There were always two workers present: chief and guard.
According to a project of 1931, on the south side of the airfield a radiogoniometric station was built out of brick measuring 7x7x3.5 metres in 1933. There were two radio towers built on the East and West of Air communication station.
In 1932, in the place of the Zeppelin hangar a training squadron’s hangar was built. In the blueprints it was suppose to be much bigger 114×20 and higher than other hangars.
In 1933, S. Darius and S. Girėnas corpses in cofinns covered in Lithuanain and USA flags were carried from the airfield’s platform towards the air station while the flags were half down.
During the 1 year commemoration of S. Darius and S. Girenas cross Atlantic tragic flight in 1934, the new appointed chief of Lithuanain Air Force A. Gustaitis organized a group of 3 ANBO-IVL planes to cross 12 countries with route consisting of Kaunas – Stockholm – Copenhagen – Amsterdam – Brussels – London – Paris – Marseille – Rome – Udine – Vienna – Prague – Budapest – Bucharest –Kiev – Velikiye Luki – Kaunas. The flight of 9000 km in various weather conditions took place from June 25th to July 19th without any incidents.
On October 2nd, 1935 a crowd of people come to meet cross Atlantic pilot F. Vatikus. He flew over 5100km and crossed the Atlantic but due to technical issues had to land in Ireland on September 22nd 1935. Vaitkus reached Lithuania at Pagegiai railway station through Konigsberg and Tilze and was met by Patriach M. Jankus of Klaipeda region, representatives of public institutions and a huge crowd from Klaipeda and Taurage regions.
F. Vaitkus was flown to Kaunas from Rupiskiai airfield in Klaipeda by ANBO IV plane. 6 Lithuanain Air Force fighters FIAT CR.20 took off to meet the ANBO IV plane. The plane, half an hour behind schedule, accompanied by 6 other planes showed up from the West. The crowd got excited when they finally saw the approaching planes in the distance after a long wait. When the planes reached the airfield, they circled over the airfield and once the planes were landing, the people could be seen inside of the first plane. Once a plane touched the ground, a cowd broke loose and started to run towards the landing plane. Fortuentely, no one was hurt when the pilot turned off the engine in time to avoid any injuries.
January of 1937, a modified surveillance plane ANBO-41 by Gustaitis manufactured in Upper Freda’s workshop was testes at the airfield.
In 1937, the 1st squadron was rearmed with new Dewoitine D-501L fighters.
On December 11th 1934, a deal was made with French company Societe Aeronatique Francaise for 14 Dewoitine D.372 fighter with spare parts (excluding arms) for 6 920 000 French Franks. However, once manufactured it was detected by Lithuanian specialists that there were serious defects and other flows on the planes. Therefore, after hard negotiations it was agreed that Dewoitine D.372 fighters would be replaced by 14 Dewoitine D-501L fighters. On 29th of November 1936 and on 24th of March 1937, these planes were marked with Lithuanian numbers 601-614 abd brought to Lithuania. D-501L was an all-metal, open-cockpit, fixed-undercarriage monoplane fighter aircraft with 690 HP liquid cooled engine Hispano-Suiza H.S.76, armed with 20 mm HS cannon on the propeller and 2 machine guns on the wings. The plane could climb up to 8 km and reach the speed of 360 km/h.
In 1938, The 1st Lithuanian National Aviation Olympic competition took place at the airfield.
On September 10th, Lithuanian Airlined acquired two 6 seated passenger planes from the Great Britain and started the route Kaunas-Palanga-Kaunas. From Autumn of 1939, these planes flew from Kaunas to Riga. They were piloted by retired Lieutenant Jonas Dzenkaitis and Simonas Mockunas. When Lithuania was occupied by Soviet Union, those pleanes were allocated to Aeroflor Airline.
In 1939, ANBO VIII bomber constructed by A. Gustaitis was tested in the airfield.
ANBO VIII was a low-wing monoplane with a tailwheel landing gear, an enclosed two-seat tandem cockpit and powered by a 930 HP Bristol Pegasus XVIII radial engine. Plane was 9.5 m in length, wingspan – 13.5 m, empty weight – 2300 kg, max takeoff weight – 3700 kg, maximum speed – 411 km/h, range – 800km. The plane was armed with 4 machined guns mounted on the wings controlled by pilot and one machine gun in the rear cockpit. The aircraft could carry up to 600kg of bombs under the fusalge and up to 400 kg of bombs under the wings.
On 22nd of February, 1941 89 manufactured planes were deployed to Baltic military district of which 74 were flown.
On 2nd of June, 31st squadron had 37 MiG-3 fighters of which 13 were operational and 24 were damaged under training.
In 1941-1944 800 concrete runway was built. Alongside, taxi ways were builts on the North and South sides. On the south side, 15 hangars for HE-111, JU-88 planes were constructed.
All these building were destroyed by the retreating German army in 1944.
From October 1944, the airfield was designated for development of civilian aviation but during the war it was used for military planes. When the war front moved west, planes that were repaired at Freda’s aviation workshops used the airfield for tests and departure to the designated points. Civilian aviations transported passengers and cargo.
In October 1944, by the USSR Council of People’s Commissars decision Kaunas airfield was designated for civil airline (Aeroflot).
Passenger planes IL-14 were not always deployed in Kaunas. They only landed for passengers to Kaunas airport.
On January 6th, 1969 the first flight of 44-seat twin turboprop transport/passenger aircraft. Plane
Plane An-24 CCCP-46444.
From 1944 Jak-9V, Jak-9M, front bombers Pe-2 were deployed at the airfield. At the same time, civilian airport was forming with Po-2 planes.
239th squadron was rearmed from Li-2 planes to Mi-4 helicopters in 1952.
Kaunas squadron was one of the first to use Mi-4 in military exercises.
Many of Kaunas residents still have the memory of accident MiG-19 Jet Fighter in July of 1967.
During the landing on the runway, the pilot seeing that he is running out of runway, decided to close plane chassis and started to slide onto the railway that hooked the fuselage and thus the plane caught fire. The pilot died.
In 1968, 47th helicopter squadron was redeployed from Czechoslovakia to Kaunas.
In 1968, helicopter squadron (Mi-6 + Mi-4), was redeployed to far east airfield Sredneje Beloje with Colonel Babosko as a commander.
In 1970, in a separate squadrons there were An-2, An-14 panes and Mi-1, Mi-4 helicopters.
On 22nd-23rd August, 1969 the 63rd squadron was flown to Kaunas from Torzoko consisting of 9 Mi-6 helicopters.
From May 10th, 1984 squadron was reformed into a regiment consisting of two Mi-6 squadrons and 2 Mi-8 squadrons. These squadrons were formed for division substitution in Afghanistan.
Two Mi-6 squadrons in 1984-1985 and 1986-1987, Mi-8 squadron in 1986-1987 and Mi-6 helicopter flock in 1987-1988 were formed and transferred Afghanistan. In total there were 363 soldiers participated in combat action in Afghanistan.
From 27th of April, 1986 three Mi-6 helicopters under the command of col. G. Salnikov participated in over 40 flights over the destroyed Chernobyl destroyed reactor.
Squadron leader p/plk. Salnikov’as, P/plk. Mažutis, mjr. Petronis, kpt. Grimalauskas
During the Soviet Occupation it was not allowed to organize a gala for 60th years of Lithuanian Aviation Sports, so it was decided to organize a gala for 60th year of Lithuanian Air club on 24th of May, 1987.
The gala was supported by city council and military division based at the airfield. A. Volckov, who was appointed as a regiment commander after serving in Afghanistan, helped that this event would be held in the old Aleksotas airfield.
Baltic states aviation sport competition took place at the airfield in the summer of 1989 that attracted constructors, gliders and first-class pilots.
Under Lithuanian Air Club’s initiative on 14th-19th of August 1939 Baltic States’ (Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) competition took place of constructors, gliders and first-class pilots in Kaunas, Lithuania. It was decided that this competition should be annual and should take place in different countries. However, the Second World War disturbed the plan.
After the 1988 Sajudis wave, on March 18th 1989 there was a Lithuanian aviators gathering and Lithuanian aerobatic federation initiated a plan to revive Baltic States’ competitions. It was approved by other federation and Lithuania hosted the competition yet again. During the opening ceremony, the notable guests included the participants of 1939 competition Viktoras Asmenskas and Ants Saar.
On 29th of September 1990, Kaunas united airsquad (was forming as air company Lietuva) exchanged the premises to Russian soldiers for premises near Karmelava airport.
On 6th of May 1993, under the decree #490 airfield was name Darius and Girenas airfield.
On 10th of March 1004, decree #176 validated Karo aviacijos Street.
On August 31st, 1993 Soviet Army left the airfield.
Kaunas air club began to carry out the task assigned by the manucipality to preserve legendary Darius and Girenas Airfield.
In 1993, during the commemorating 60 years of S. Darius and S. Girenas flight across the Atlantic, one of key aspects was the continuation of the flight from the place of crash to the point of destination in Kaunas. Replica of Lituanika, that was stored at Lithuanian Air Museum and was used in 1982 in filming of the movie Flight across the Atlantic, was used for the flight. The constructor of the plane Vladas Kensgaila and aviation historian Edmunas Jasiunas performed the flight. On 15th of July, they took off from Kaunas S. Darius and S. Girenas airfield to participate in various commemoration in Myślibórz and came back on 17th of July to participate in the aviation ceremony in the memory of S. Darius and Girenas flight’s 60 years.
In 1995, Aviapaslauga Air Company was founded at the airport to collaborate with ogranizations of air sports.
In 1997, an Aviation Gala tooks place at the airport in honor of Lithuanian air club 70th years and Kaunas air club 25th year celebration.
On July 16th, the 3rd European AN-2 plane gathering took place at the airport. There were 20 AN-2 planes, DC-3, AN-28 and other airplanes
In 2000, the start of contruction of first hangar (now Karo Aviacijos 32)
In 2002, there was an increase in the number of planes at the airport: flown from South Africa the first twin engine plane Piper Twin Comanch Pa-39 ZS-FVP and from Germany single engine plane Morane-Saulnier MS-893A D-EJCE
On July 19th, 2003 Darius and Girenas 70th year commemoration took place at the airport during which air show and transatlantic pilots V. Ramonas and G. Staniulis meeting took place with the President R. Paksas of Lithuania Republic present.
Through July 20th to August 2nd, 2004 European acrobatic 14th FAI European Aerobatic Championship took place at the airfield. Pilots of the first class from Europe and USA participated at the event in Kaunas.
On July 21st, 2007 a non-stop flight around Lithuanian took place in the memory of S. Darius and S. Girenas in 5 hours 48 minutes in CT-SW planes.