Wasserkuppe, Quedlinburg and Dessau
There are numerous German aviation pioneers that helped establish the foundations of the industry in the early 1900s. Among other things, their nationality caused controversy in regards to who really performed the first powered flight, possibly beating the Wright Brothers by two years.
One of the greatest German aviation pioneers was Otto Lilienthal. During the late 1800s, he developed a number of hang glider designs capable of heavier-than-air flight.
Born Gustav Albin Weisskopf, this German pioneer of aviation changed his name upon immigrating to the United States. Using a self-built engine, Whitehead allegedly made his first flight in 1901, two full years before the Wright Brothers and Karl Jatho. In Connecticut, Whitehead was credited in newspapers with performing fixed-wing flights over the course of two years.
As an aviation pioneer of Germany, Karl Jatho is believed to have flown a powered airplane a full four months prior to the Wright Brothers.
Carl Oskar Ursinus was a pioneer of German aviation and is remembered mainly for his contributions to sailplane designs and the sport of gliding. He has been nicknamed the Rhönvater because he founded Germany's first gliding club at the Wasserkuppe in the Rhön Mountains in 1920.
Hugo Junkers was a German engineer and aircraft designer. As such he is generally credited with pioneering the design of all-metal airplanes and flying wings. His company produced some of the world's most innovative and best-known airplanes over the course of its history in Dessau.
In 1913 Hugo Junkers decided to built his engines himself, and founded Junkers Motoren GmbH at Magdeburg.
This write-up covers visits to the Wasserkuppe, Dessau and Magdeburg. We also visited Quedlinburg, one of the best-preserved medieval and renaissance towns in Europe.
From Paderborn-Lippstadt to Wasserkuppe
On Tuesday, 22 October 2013, Maurits and René made Wasserkuppe the first stop on the History Tour.
The Wasserkuppe is the highest peak in the Rhön Mountains in the German state of Hessen. The mountain is a plateau formation. Between the first and second world wars great advances in sailplane development took place.
Interest in gliding in Germany increased greatly after 1918 when the Treaty of Versailles restricted the production or use of powered aircraft in Germany. From 1920 onwards, annual gliding competitions were held, leading to records being set and broken for height, distance and duration of unpowered flight.
Virtually every German aeronautical engineer and test pilot of note during the 1920s and 30s spent time building, testing, and flying aircraft at the Wasserkuppe. In 1970, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first competition, the German Sailplane Museum (Deutsches Segelflugmuseum) was opened on the plateau, with Neil Armstrong a guest of honour at the ceremony.
Final runway 24 Wasserkuppe
René at Wasserkuppe airfield
The glider museum
Maurits with glider models
The Wasserkuppe is the highest peak in the Rhön Mountains in Germany. Between the first and the second world wars great advances in sailplane development took place on the mountain.
More about the Wasserkuppe history and the museum here
From Wasserkuppe to Ballenstedt/Quedlinburg
After Wasserkuppe we flew to Ballenstedt/Quedlinburg. At the airport we booked a hotel in Quedlinburg; the Wyndham Garden in the Quedlinburg Stadtschloss that dates from the 16th century. Quedlinburg is one of the best-preserved medieval and renaissance towns in Europe, having escaped major damage in World War II.
In the innermost parts of the town a wide selection of half-timbered buildings from at least five different centuries are to be found, while around the outer fringes of the old town there are wonderful examples of Jugendstil buildings, dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Collegiate Church of St Servatius, situated on a sandstone cliff, is one of the masterpieces of Romanesque architecture. The flat-ceiling basilica, dedicated in the year 1129, was preceded by earlier structures.
René at Ballenstedt airport
Maurits with the Quedlinburger Stadtschloss
St. Servatius church
The Quedlinburg Castle-Hill
The town of Quedlinburg is known since at least the early 9th century, when a settlement known as Gross Orden existed at the eastern bank of the river Bode.
More about Quedlinburg here
From Ballenstedt to Halle, Oppin
The next morning we first had breakfast in the hotel before we went to the Ballenstedt airport. On our way to Dessau, we made a short stop at Halle, Oppin airport.
René at Ballenstedt airport
Final runway 11 Halle, Oppin airport
From Halle, Oppin to Dessau, Hugo Junkers
After settling the Landegebühr (landing fees), we taxied out to runway 11. When we approached Dessau airfield, there were cars on the runway plus a Junkers 52 that was positioned at the end of the runway. We made a 360 over right at the end of downwind runway 27, and half-way we received the signal that the runway was clear. The cars had moved to the end of the runway with the Ju-52. After landing, when we paid the landing fee, we were told that they were making a documentary for television about the beginning of civil aviation in Germany. The Junkers 52 was the HB-HOS of Ju-Air. We visited the Technikmuseum Hugo Junkers Dessau.
Left base runway 27 Dessau
René at Dessau, Hugo Junkers airport
Filming with the Ju-52
(picture Mitteldeutsche Zeitung)
Maurits with the Junkers F-13 under construction
Hugo Junkers was a German engineer and aircraft designer. As such he is generally credited with pioneering the design of all-metal airplanes and flying wings.
More about Junkers here
From Dessau to Magdeburg
After visiting the Technikmuseum "Hugo Junkers" Dessau, we walked back to the airport. We followed the Elbe to Magdeburg, where we fueled a little for the return flight to Paderborn.
Junkers founded the Junkers Motor Works (Junkers Motorenbau) in Magdeburg, but we left that for another trip to further explore.
Taxi to runway 27 Dessau airport
Junkers Ju 52 HB-HOS
Final runway 27 Magdeburg, City airport
René at Magdeburg, City airport
From Magdeburg to Paderborn-Lippstadt
We had a strong head-wind when we flew from Magdeburg to Paderborn. Because of strong turbulance at low altitude (Harz mountains, hills), we chose to fly in smooth air at FL 65 with a ground-speed of only 75 kts.
En-route to Paderborn-Lippstadt
René and Maurits