The bar with the propeller on it

I’ve walked by this place many times, but I’ve never come in. The propeller is stuck on the corner of the building, over a small solarium with a single table. Around the table are arrayed three mannequins wearing WWII-era flight suits. Inside the place is as much museum as it is bar. There is the cockpit section of a spitfire as an architectural feature, and the place is packed with RAF memorabilia. Model spitfires are shooting down germans over my head. The little biscuit that came with my tea was in the shape of an airplane.

At first I was a bit surprised to see such a British place in a Prague neighborhood, but of course the pilots in those planes over my head aren’t British, they’re Czech. The tipoff is the beer. They serve Czech beer, not English. The guys in the flight suits are members of the Czechoslovak air force who were forbidden from taking to the skies as the Nazis invaded. Many escaped Czechoslovakia and provided the RAF with a critical boost during their finest hour.

Right now, on a lovely Sunday afternoon, I have the room to myself. There are some tourists in the next room, but this is a peaceful spot just now. No excuses at all for not getting back to work on my novel. None.

Maybe I’ll see what’s on the menu…

Hmm. The menu is chock-full of stuff. It contains a brief and difficult-to-decipher history of Frank Wing, Czech aviation pioneer, and founder of Wing’s Club, which is what this place is called. Wing built some of the first aircraft, founded aviation companies, ran for president (or prime minister or whatever), and ended up working for Boeing in the US after he fled Czechoslovakia in the late ’30’s. “Wing” is the translation of his name into English, but while that is an interesting coincidence, even better is his wife’s maiden name: “Propeller”. I figure when they learned each other’s names they knew they had no choice.

Before becoming an industrialist and politician, Frank had been part of the bodyguard for Archduke Franz Ferdinand. I guess he wasn’t as good at bodyguarding as he was building aircraft. It’s a little vague on whether he flew combat during WWI, but it seems likely.

He was a strong advocate of the Czech republic developing its own ability to manufacture aircraft rather than buy them off other countries, and the industries he helped to develop were of great interest to their German neighbors. He died in a car accident near Detroit, rushing to an emergency meeting of Czech nationals living in the US called as the Nazis threatened his homeland. Remember: statistically speaking, the most dangerous part of your flight is the drive to the airport.

His wife, Mrs. Propeller-Wing, apparently was a model and did lingerie shows for the troops, while Frank’s mother was a high-wire artist, and performed while heavily pregnant with… uh, HEY! WAIT A MINUTE! Who wrote this? Dr. Pants? It’s embarrassing how credulous I am. Even while I recognized some parts of the story as obvious bullshit, it took fuego to point out that the whole thing was utter rubbish.

When I was a kid people would test-drive practical jokes on me. If I caught on, they knew it wouldn’t work on anybody.

Also on the menu is a pretty good selection of food, at maybe-a-little-higher-than-typical prices. They have stuffed dumplings shot from a canon, though. Gotta like that. I don’t even think that’s a bad translation – it’s written like it’s supposed to be unusual. Might have to order some if I get to see the canon.

“Open wide!” *BLAM* “Yum!” Now that’s what I call fine dining, as long as their aim is good.

6 thoughts on “The bar with the propeller on it

  1. Just so it doesn’t get lost in the bullshit, the first part, about Czech pilots escaping and flying in the RAF, is indeed true. Some of these heroes faced a harsh life when they returned to their homeland, under a cloud for their connections with the west.

  2. I’d never heard of the use of an accepted orthodox body of literature as a device with which to hurl projectiles.

    There was a really good feature article in the Czech Air inflight magazine about the Czech squadron in the RAF. Most inspirational.

    One other bit of WWII history — in the famous photo and statue commemorating Iwo Jima, one of the seven US Marines hoisting the flag was Czech.

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