Feliksas Vaitkus (Felix Waitkus) with his wife Martha at the train station in Lithuania. Courtesy of Šiauliai "Aušra" Museum.
Lithuanian American pilot Feliksas Vaiktus flew across the Atlantic in 1935. The press reported on every aspect of the flight, about the pilot, the airplane, and the flight which took more than 21 hours under extreme weather conditions. The people of Lithuania were proud of Vaitkus and his Lithuanian surname. They called him conqueror of the Atlantic and winged hero.
A crowd of 40,000 people turned out to watch his arrival at the Kaunas aerodrome. Eyewitnesses said his adoring fans thronged the streets along which the pilot was taken by car performing ovations "of the kind even kings never receive" and "casting flowers." Vaitkus's visit wasn't just a source of joy for residents of Kaunas. He also visited Šiauliai, Panevėžys, Žagarė, Rokiškis, Klaipėda, Palanga and Marijampolė. He spent the whole month of October in Lithuania.
The people of Šeduva also had a chance to see perhaps the most beloved man of the year. On the way to Panevėžys Vaitkus briefly stopped at the Šeduva train station where he was greeted by local residents dressed in their finest. They threw flowers at the winged hero just as enthusiastically as the people at other locations.