My interest in all things aviation grew from an early age. Fed by a myriad of books, an array of visits to
finest aviation museums in the world, some airshows and a bit of flying, I then decided to study
aeronautical engineering to turn passion into profession.
As you may have been able to tell, topics especially close to my heart include weird and wonderful aircraft of all kind and the history of aviation in general.
If you spot mistakes, need clarifications, want to suggest improvements or just want to talk planes, feel free to contact me.
I'd like to use this opportunity to present some of my favorite books (list is incomplete).
|Flight: 100 years of Aviation||Comprehensive history of aviation and space flight. Good introduction to the aerospace world and very well illustrated. I read the German version of this book at least 20 times as a kid.|
|Carrying the Fire||Autobiography of Astronaut Michael Collins of Apollo 11 fame. Known as best Apollo-era astronaut biography|
|The Naked Pilot||Why do airplanes crash?|
|Truth, Lies and O-Rings||Why the Challenger disaster happened and how that came to light|
|Fate Is the Hunter||Autobiography of an airline pilot of the olden times (30s to 50s)|
|Wings on My Sleeve||Autobiography of Eric Brown, British test pilot and pilot with the most different aircraft types flown (487) and most aircraft carrier landings (2407). At the beginning of the war, he was in Germany, but let go, his aircraft carrier was sunk and he interrogated many important Germans after WWII.|
|Forever Flying||Autobiography of Bob Hoover legendary aerobatic and test pilot. Possible the greatest stick-and-rudder man ever.|
|The Secret Horsepower Race||Fighter engine development in WW2. Very comprehensive technical analysis|
To conclude this little personal section, I'd like to present some of my favorite planes.
This stunningly beautiful 1935 airliner is the most beautiful aircraft of all times in my eyes. Its characteristic twin tail was the first Lockheed project of one of the most famous aircraft designers of all time. It was also selected by Amelia Earhart for her ill-fated 1937 world flight.
The P-38 was designed as long range twin-engine fighter aircraft. Its first flight was in 1939. It was
designed by the aforementioned Kelly Johnson and its characteristic twin-boom construction made it
Due to poor engine performance, problems with cockpit heating in the cold european skies and problems with compressibility, it wasn't very successfull in the european theater of war. It was suited to the pacific front however, as it was twin-engined and had a long range. The Lightning was also a successfull ground attack aircraft. America's most successfull ace, Richard Bong, also flew Lightnings.
The Spitfire is one of the most famous aircraft of all time. Designed by a cancer-stricken R.J. Mitchell, it was used to great effect throughout WWII, being the only British aircraft to remain in production for the entire war. Powered by the famous Merlin engine its impact was quality was discovered by many pilots of the Nazi-German Luftwaffe. Constantly improved, it remained competitive and popular. To this day it is a welcome sight in Great Britain and is credited by some to have decided the Battle of Britain.
The Zero (also known as Zeke in the west) was designed by Jiro Horikoshi and was one of the first naval aircraft superior to its land based rivals. Sacrificing armor protection and strength for superb maneuverability, it was a superb dogfighter. Playing its part in the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was outclassed later in the war.
The Corsair was a product effort to incorporate the biggest engine available, the massive (18 cylinders, 46 l displacement) Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp, in the smallest possible airframe. This led to an incredibly fast but difficult to control airplane. It was the first single-engine U.S. fighter to surpass 400 mph (640 km/h) in level flight. Its distinct inverted gull wing was a consequence of the effort to shorten the landing gear as much as possible (conventional landing gear). The location of its cockpit behind the wing led to the curiosity, that the pilot moved downwards first when pulling up.
The Blackbird remains the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft in the world to this day. It was used as a reconnaissance platform flying high and incredibly fast over enemy territory in a time, when spy satellites where in their infancy. Its top speed was about Mach 3.5. Its engine was a mixture of turbojet and ramjet, becoming more efficient with speed. Its shape is a consequence of the effort to reduce the radar cross-section as much as possible. The incredibly demanding thermal environment at high speeds and the resulting expansion meant that the aircraft was actually leaking fuel from take off to the point where the fuselage heated enought to seal the fuel tanks.
The legendary X-15 is the fastest manned aircraft of all time. It was a hypersonic research aircraft intended to study aerodynamic heating. Used by NASA (and flown by Neil Armstrong among others), it reached a speed of Mach 6.7 and an altitude of 107.8 km (space!). It was air-dropped from beneath the wing of a NASA Boeing B-52 bomber and then powered to altitude (and/or speed) by its massive rocket engine. It then glided to a lakebed landing near Edwards Air Force Base.
The Crusader is one of the very rare aircraft to feature a variable-incidence wing. This means
it was able to change the angle between wing and fuselage. This improved the pilot's view of the deck of
an aircraft carrier. It was also the first aircraft in U.S. service to exceed 1000 mph in level flight
and the last fighter aircraft to use guns as its primary weapon, therefore being dubbed "last of the
The variable-incidence wing, along with another innovations (area-ruled fuselage, all-moving stabilator,etc.) led to its design team winning the prestigious Collier Trophy.
The stunning Super Constellation is a member of Lockheed's Constellation family. One of the last piston-engined airliners, it was powered by four very advanced 54.9 l Wright R-3350s. Their suboptimal reliability led to the Constellation being called "most famous three-engined plane in the world". One of its other nicknames was "Super Connie". It was also one of the first aircraft of the revived Lufthansa.
The Vampire (initially called Spider Crab) was an early British jet fighter. Its development started during WWII to make use of Frank Whittle's revolutionary turbojet engine. Its wooden construction owed to the famous Mosquito. Its eye-catching twin boom design was used to ease engine placement. Piloted by the aforementioned Eric Brown , a navalized version of it was also the first jet to land on an aircraft carrier (as seen here).
One last Oshkosh photo. This stunning Douglas DC-3 was parked in the vintage parking ground when I visited the 2018 AirVenture.