“Yesterday morning the first Greek private aviator Mr. Argyropoulos flew in his airplane. It was a test flight and was completely successful. The flight was to take place  at  08: 00 in the morning in the open field of the Ruff barracks.  Many people had gathered there to watch the spectacle, among them the Prime Minister.” From a reportage published in newspaper “Scrip” on 8 February 1912 about the first airplane flight in Greece, Emmanuel Argyropoulos being the pilot. On the same day the Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos will also fly with Argyropoulos on a second flight.. On 12 February  Argyropoulos repeats the flight in the zoo of Phaleron in the presence of the royal family and thousands of Athenians. The newspaper ‘ Empros” writes :” At 16:25 Mr. Argyropoulos’ brother rotated the screw, which began to  whirl at a daemonic speed producing equally daemonic noise. The spectators are really anxious. The airplane begins to race on the ground as the people before it are seized by panic and take to flight. After a run of about 70 metres on the ground the airplane, as a result of an abrupt turn of the rudder,  begins to ascend majestically.

Pioneering Greek aviator Emmanuel Argyropoulos in his plane. (GAS, Central Office, Argyropoulos family documents collection)

The pilot of the first successful airplane flight in Greece on 8 February 1912 was Emmanuel Argyropoulos, son of Georgios Argyropoulos, ambassador of Greece at St Petersburg. Argyropoulos had studied electrical engineering in Germany, but abandoned the profession and studied air navigation in France,  acquiring  a private pilot’s certificate.  He returned to Greece in January 1912 bringing with him a privately-owned airplane in a box. During the Balkan Wars he enlisted in the air force and took part in operations. In April 1913 during a reconnaissance flight Argyropoulos’ airplane crashes near Langadas because of a breakdown. Argyropoulos and his fellow-passenger Constantinos Manos will die; they were the first casualties of the Greek air-force.

A crowd of people watches the plane of Argyropoulos which is in the air.(GAS, Central Office, Argyropoulos family documents collection)

Yannis Glavinas

General State Archives – Central Service

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