Samstag, 11. Dezember 2010

A Flight with Iren Dornier.

We are connected to Iren Dornier's Do-24 ATT since May 1. 2004 when he came to Friedrichshafen the first time. It was part of his Around the World Tour which started on the Philippines. 86 stop-overs in 36 countries with crossings of the North- and South Atlantic and of course part of the Pacific - a really most impressive portfolio in Iren's logbook!
The history of this aircraft is very interesting: Built in 1943 with the serial number 5345, this Do-24 started her career as a SAR plane in Puerto do Pollensa / Mallorca, Spain for 27 years. In 1971 it was returned to the manufacturer. On August 06, 1971 it touched down on the Lake Constance near the Dornier Factory at Immenstaad. I clearly remember that day. The plane was flying low over our house during final approach. This was the first time I saw a real Do-24. Until then I knew her only from books and my father's files. He worked as an aerodynamic engineer for Dornier for most of his life. Also on the Do-24. My father was already retired for a couple of years then. But we immediately went out to Dornier and inspected the mooring plane with a rowing boat. I was electrified. At this time I served with the German Airforce as a Radar Operator and was on a break at home. For the Do-24 visit I had to skip a date with my girl friend Barbara. You can imagine the trouble I became afterwards! But don't worry, I am still married to that girl after nearly 40 years. And yes, I have to admit that I never regretted to change the date in favor of the Do-24 on that day. And it was also important for me to bring my father back to one of his beloved flying boats.

Photo: Josef Hueber 1971
At the same time the 12 year old Iren Dornier (his father was the boss of my father) sat in the cockpit of the Do-24 and decided to bring her back into the air some time. Well, he did it and I am glad we met. Our company Airborne Grafix is next door to each other to one of Iren's Companies, the Dornier Aviation.

Iren during final approach on his first visit on May 01. 2004. Photo: Josef Hueber
This way our circles crossed again and we come to July 07. 2009 when Iren entered our office and invited us for a flight with his Do-24. It was the day the new Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen opened. Iren was busy flying VIPs but had a hard landing the day before due to heavy crosswinds. One of the tires of the main landing gear was a bit worn down after that and Iren decided to make splashdowns on the lake to preserve the tire a bit. I didn't had a camera on hand but Tom did. One hour later we were airborne and heading for the lake in an impressive low level flight.

Boarding the Do-24. Photo: Tom Neudert
Whow, first time in the air with a flying boat. What an experience. Skimming the water on flight levels 20 to 200 meters was very thrilling. After an hour we splashed down on the lake with some incredible "bangs" and a lot of splash. It's unbelievable. If you never did this before, you cannot imagine such a landing. I thought, if you're going down with an airliner over waters, this would be your last impression. But it's such a good feeling: your flying with a boat! As long as your over water, you can go down anywhere at any time without harm. It's really so cool. I felt totally safe all the time. Besides that - Iren is a very very experienced pilot.

Iren Dornier at his workstation. Photo: Josef Hueber
Well, you know that: if you're asked to name 10 of the most outstanding things happened in your life, this flight definitely is one of those.

Where everything began 60 years earlier. The Dornier Factory at Immenstaad (now EADS). Photo: Tom Neudert

Touch down...
The happy author.
New PAX boarding on Lake Constance under Iren's supervision. Photo: Tom Neudert

Ready for take-off. Switzerland is in the background. Photo: Tom Neudert


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