Nationale Flugwoche
Berlin, Germany, August 7th - 13th, 1910

The summer national meeting at Johannisthal

Korvettenkapitän Paul Engelhard at the controls of one his Wrights. (1)
Robert Thelen at the controls of one his Wrights. (2)
Eugen Wiencziers posing in front of one of his three Antoinettes. #23 was equipped with an Antoinette engine, which failed during its first flight. (3)
Emil Jeannin in one of his biplanes. Aviatik had by now made so big changes to the original Farman design that it was now approved as a German design and eligible for the Lanz-Preis. The wings were of shorter chord and thicker profile, and the tips were detachable. The outer struts of the wing rigging had been discarded and replaced with wire bracing that completely encircled the wing cellule and the landing gear. The landing gear had been equipped with a single axle and single wheels. The tail surfaces had also been modified, but still only had fixed surfaces without the the auxiliary elevators fitted on most 1910 Farmans. (2)
Adolf Behrend had to use crutches after an accident shortly before the meeting. (1)
Wiencziers flying above Behrend's Schultze-Herfort and Ellery von Gorrissen's Euler. (4)
Hermann Dorner at the controls of his self-built monoplane. The drive shaft to the pusher propeller can be seen below the seat. (5)
Helmuth von Moltke, chief of the General Staff, congratulates Dorner to his successful flight for the Bleichröderpreis. (2)
Von Gorrissen flying above the hangars. (3)
Wiencziers in the cockpit of the #21 Antoinette. The lack of radiators on the fuselage sides indicates that this machine was equipped with an air-cooled Gnôme engine. (1)
An ominous-looking officer in "Pickelhaube" watching Engelhard fly by. (6)
Jeannin in flight, with the grandstands at the southern end of the airfield in the background. The person who retouched the photo might have got lost with the left wing, but it still shows the complex wing rigging of the strut-less Aviatik biplane. (7)
The Ehrenpreis (honorary prize) given by the Kriegsministerium to Robert Thelen for his performances in the contests that they sponsored - a big bronze statue by sculptor Paul Aichele. (8)

The second of the three 1910 meetings at the Johannisthal airfield was a national meeting, restricted to German pilots. The "Flug- und Sportplatz-Gesellschaft Berlin-Johannisthal" had further improved the facilities of the airfield. More hangars were constantly added, the ground surfaces had been improved and a horse-drawn tramline was built, with a stop north of the airfield. Flying would still take place around the 1909 2.5-kilometre course, since the planned extension of the field had still not been finished.

21 German pilots were licensed at the time, and 15 of them entered a total of 26 machines. 24 of them were scrutinized and approved by the officials the day before the meeting. The program didn't include any of the novelties that were introduced at the spring international meeting, but included contests for altitude, flying time, highest load and shortest take-off run. Official timed flights could take place between five o'clock and eight o'clock.

The participants could also make efforts for two of the standing prizes for German pilots. The original three Lanz Prizes, donated by industrialist Karl Lanz for the first three flights of two kilometres with turns in different direction at each end, by a German pilot in an airplane designed and built in Germany and equipped with a German engine, had already been won by Hans Grade, Adolf Behrend and Hermann Dorner, but the Kaiserliche Automobil-Club and the Berliner Verein für Luftschiffahrt had put up three additional prizes, of 2,000, 1,500 and 1,000 Mark respectively. The Bleichröderpreis of 10,000 Mark was donated by banker James von Bleichröder, and was supplemented by a second prize of 1,000 Mark, donated by the Kaiserlichen Automobil-Club. It would be given to the pilot who completed three laps of the Johannisthal course during one of the three 1910 meetings in the shortest time. Between each lap the pilot was required to land between the last pylon and the start/finish line and remain stationary for at least one minute with the engine running.

Sunday 7 August
The weather had been rather bad the last days before the meeting. When the meeting started it was brighter, but a strong wind, with gusts up to 16-18 m/s, was blowing from the west. This didn't discourage the visitors and the spectator areas were quite crowded, but the planes could not even be brought out of their hangars. The wind didn't decrease until around five o'clock, but then it started raining, and when the rain stopped, the wind increased again.

Most of the spectators had to leave disappointed, and the few patiently remaining didn't get to see any flying until almost eight o'clock - but it wasn't an aeroplane. It was Käte Paulus in her balloon "Carola". She had lifted off from the Luna-Park at Halensee, some 17 kilometres north-west of the airfield, and passed above the airfield at great speed. Soon afterwards the cannon shot announced the end of the day's flying.

Monday 8 August
It was still windy on the second day. The average wind speed was 6-7 m/s and it was quite gusty, so it took a long time before the first pilot ventured out of the hangars. It was Paul Engelhard, who took off at 17:13 from the Wright hangars on the opposite side of the field from the "Startplatz", the main hangar area with the main grandstands. His first flight lasted only two minutes, and he had to work hard at the controls. Around an hour later he made a second flight, but again gave up fighting the wind and landed after four minutes.

After Engelhard's flights there was no action for an hour. Robert Thelen's Wright was made ready, but didn't move. There was a different kind of flying on the airfield though: A bird's nest was found in the grass in front of the hangars! A couple of larks had managed to raise four or five chicks, despite the disturbances of the last weeks. They were now almost ready to take flight, and their parents fluttered nervously above. The area around the nest was quickly fenced in, so that nobody would step in it by accident.

At half past six Eugen Wiencziers rolled out one of his three Antoinettes for a passenger flight, but the engine didn't run well, so he returned to switch to another machine. Meanwhile, Thelen and Engelhard started passenger flights, but neither flew more than a few laps. At 19:37 Wiencziers took off in his second machine, with his mechanic as passenger. He worked hard in the gusty wind to reach the twenty minutes required for the daily endurance prize. The wind decreased a little towards the end of the flight, and he flew on for 31 minutes, since for some reason the eight o'clock cannon shot wasn't fired. This flight won him the first daily endurance prize, together with a 300 Mark bonus for winning it with a passenger on board. After landing, he claimed that he would never again risk an expensive airplane in such windy conditions.

Tuesday 9 August
Windy conditions continued to haunt the meeting, with wind speeds reaching 10-12 m/s during the afternoon. Nobody tried to fly until around six o'clock, when Engelhard took off. He had only covered half a lap when his engine stopped, forcing him to land in front of the "Startplatz". After a while he managed to get his engine started and headed back towards his hangar, flying very low. Suddenly the right front wheel got caught in the vegetation, the plane was turned around and hit the ground. Engelhard got away unharmed, but a landing skid was broken and the machine had to be pulled back to its hangar by horses. Fridolin Keidel took off immediately after seven o'clock. He flew very low too and, like his fellow Wright pilot, got stuck in the grass after half a lap, but apparently without causing any damage.

Immediately afterwards Adolf Behrend took off in his Schultze-Herfort monoplane and made a test flight of eight and a half minutes, before giving up because of the pain of a foot that he had injured in an accident before the meeting. Wiencziers took off at 19:12, again with his mechanic on board. After a long ground run he climbed to a height of 25 to 30 metres, constantly adjusting the elevators to compensate for the gusts that pitched the big machine up and down. Simon Brunnhuber took off in his Sommer at 19:18, soon followed by Keidel, who brought a passenger, and at 19:22 by Thelen. Four minutes later Oskar Heim took off for the first time with his Wright. After a few laps, Thelen climbed to 80 to 100 metres, an altitude that Heim also reached quickly. Then Felix Laitsch took off in his Voisin, making it six planes were in the air at the same time, a quite impressive sight. Wright pilots Thelen and Heim flew slowly high up, Wiencziers flew a little lower, but visibly faster, while Brunnhuber and Keidel, who landed again after five minutes, flew close to the ground. Then Hermann Dorner took off in his monoplane, followed at 19:45 by Emil Jeannin in his new Aviatik biplane, who landed after ten minutes.

When the cannon shot announced the end of the day's flights there were still five machines in the air. Thelen had spent almost forty minutes in the air, beating Wiencziers by almost two minutes. Third and fourth places were claimed by Heim and Dorner, who had both flown between 26 and 27 minutes.

Wednesday 10 August
The weather finally turned better, with light winds that turned into almost complete calm towards the evening. Big crowds gathered at the airfield and several pilots flew during the afternoon, but the proceedings were interrupted by a dramatic accident shortly after seven o'clock. At 18:45 Oskar Heim tried to take off with a passenger, but failed to get off the ground. He turned back to the hangars and made a new effort, this time without the passenger. He quickly climbed to 112 metres and had circled the airfield at slightly lower altitude for 17 minutes when a rigging wire came loose and fouled the left propeller. The propeller broke apart, and parts of it hit the horizontal tail stabilizer of his Wright and ripped it off. The machine immediately pitched down and rolled to the left. It tumbled to the ground and hit the earth sideways, on the back straight opposite the Startplatz. Spectators screamed in horror and cars and ambulances speeded towards the accident site. Heim was found among the tangled rigging wires of the wreckage, with the fuel tank resting on top of his body. He was unconscious, but he had fortunately fallen on relatively soft ground and had not been hit by the heavy engine. He was driven, still unconscious, to the nearby district hospital in Britz, where the doctors stated that his injuries were serious, but not life-threatening. Nothing was broken, but he had suffered a bad concussion, was severely bruised, and his thigh had been pierced by a metal part from the broken airplane.

Since there was no risk to Heim's life the officials decided that the flying could continue, but most of the pilots who were in the air landed anyway, one after the other. Only Jeannin kept flying, and Wiencziers and Dorner joined him during the last half hour. Jeannin's total flying time of the day was 1 hour 49 minutes, beating Brunnhuber, who was second with 1 hour 11 minutes. The longest non-stop flight, 45 minutes, was made by Wiencziers. Jeannin took the lead in the take-off contest with a distance of 70.8 metres. Laitsch completed the test for the Bleichröderpreis with ease, in 10:19.2. Ellery von Gorrissen, who stated that it was boring to fly circles around a marked course, had made three long flights outside the airfield between five and seven o'clock. This was forbidden by the rules of the meeting, so it was speculated that he would be disqualified.

Thursday 11 August
The good weather and the successful flights on the previous day attracted large crowds to the airfield on the fifth day. Most of the pilots had entered for the shortest take-off contest, in which Jeannin had taken the lead the day before. Thelen improved this to 47.3 metres and then managed to repeat the performance, exactly to the centimetre. Brunnhuber, Laitsch, Dorner, Jeannin and Theodor Schauenburg made several efforts, but nobody managed to beat Thelen's result. Dorner then tried for the Bleichröderpreis, claiming the lead with a flight of 10:08.6.

After these efforts Kriegsminister Josias von Heeringen arrived, together with a big entourage. This signalled the start of the flights for the special prizes offered by the War Ministry. These contests for load-carrying and altitude were restricted to pilots who had not yet won more than 5,000 marks. The load carrying contest was first. The rules required the pilots to carry at least 140 kilograms, including the pilot, for at least five minutes. The first one in the air, at seven o'clock, was Dorner, whose total load, including several carefully weighed sandbags, was 182.9 kg. He made a flight of 7:45, of which 6:29 was officially credited. His lead didn't last long, since Thelen almost immediately improved the mark to 190 kg during a flight of 7:25. At half past seven Thelen extended his lead by carrying 210 kg for seven minutes. Immediately after having the weight checked, he took off for the altitude contest. Thelen reached an initially reported altitude of 277 metres after climbing constantly over a five-lap flight, but the result was later confirmed, with incredible precision, as 298.76 metres.

Soon after seven o'clock Jeannin took off for the daily endurance prize, which he secured by safely circling the course until the eight o'clock deadline, using his smaller #13 spare machine since the other had a radiator problem.

Von Gorrissen, who had indeed been disqualified from the contests, took off at 19:12 and again left the airfield after flying one lap. He steered westward and didn't return until eight o'clock. He had flown to the hospital in Britz, intending to visit Heim, but Heim's was still reported to be unconscious. Since Heim's condition didn't allow any visits Gorrissen could only leave a business card.

Wiencziers took off at 19:42 with his mechanic König as passenger. He landed after 19 minutes, but flared too late and touched down heavily. The machine bounced and when it hit the ground a second time the fuselage buckled at the landing gear. One of the wings was also damaged, so that machine was out of action for the rest of the meeting.

The Wright team was reported to have filed a protest against Jeannin's endurance prize winning flight of the day before, since they claimed that their pilots hadn't been allowed to fly after Heim's accident. Jeannin was listed as winner in the final official results, so the protest must have been disregarded.

Friday 12 August
The day started with some short tests by Wiencziers, Engelhard and Jeannin, but then there was a long break. The reason was that the pilots had gone on strike! The reason was a controversy over the coloured armlets that pilots, crew members and different officials had to wear. The rules prescribed that pilots and crew members had to wear blue armlets. Wiencziers didn't want to wear the same armlet as his mechanics, and on the day before he was denied access to his damaged machine because he refused to wear the armlet. He and his crew, who also didn't wear any armlets, were driven off by horse-mounted policemen, immediately in front of the crowds. After this embarrassing intermezzo the organizing committee had a quick meeting and informed the pilots, in writing, that they had wear their armlets. Wiencziers refused to receive his letter, thereby adding fuel to the fire. He was supported by Thelen, with the consequence that they were both given a fine of 25 Marks and threatened with further sanctions. Other pilots, among them Grade and Plochmann. supported their fellow pilots, and long negotiations followed. In the end, around half past seven, the disagreements were settled. Wiencziers and Thelen gave up their opposition and the fines were withdrawn, so flying could finally begin.

Jeannin won the daily endurance prize with a flight of 31:40, beating Engelhard's 22:13. Engelhard also won the passenger prize, and in second flight carried a load of 211 kg for 6:05 to take the lead in the load-carrying prize. Grade and Plochmann finally pulled their machines out of the hangars and made a couple of short flights. Weincziers also found time to make a couple of short tests in his Gnôme-powered Antoinette. Dorner's machine had engine and propeller problems and was out of action for the rest of the meeting.

Saturday 13 August
The meeting finished as it had started, with grounded airplanes. The wind speed was 8 to 9 m/s, and even more in the gusts during the thunderstorms, so flights were impossible. Jeannin disassembled his machine already during the afternoon, in order to go to Frankfurt for the Frankfurt-Mannheim cross-country race the next weekend.

There was more controversy in the meeting rooms of the committee. Engelhard's first place in the load-carrying contest was protested on the grounds that his winning margin was so small, only 1 kg, and that his load was weighed at the Wright hangars on the opposite side of the airfield and not with the same scales at the Startplatz that were used by the other contestants. Engelhard offered to repeat the flight with the load weighed with the official scales. He managed to briefly get off the ground, but was forced to land after only 25 seconds because of the winds. The committee decided to deduct four kilograms from his result, which gave the win to Thelen, but both Engelhard and third place holder Dorner announced that they would protest the decision.

The only other action on the airfield was when Wiencziers took out his machine and entered for the altitude prize some minutes before the official flying time closed. He actually never intended to fly, and only made a ground run and then abandoned the take-off. His reason for doing this was to ensure that Thelen would get the altitude prize money. He would not have been entitled to the prize if there hadn't been a second contestant, and Wiencziers' effort ensured that the formalities were fulfilled. Jeannin had flown for 2 h 41:40 and won the prize for the longest total flying time, beating Wiencziers by only three minutes.

Although the German aviation press stated that German pilots had nothing to be ashamed of in comparison to those of other countries, it was obvious that no significant performances had been achieved. This was of course to a large extent to be blamed on the weather. Two days had been completely wasted, and most of the flying had taken place on only three days.

With exception for Heim's accident there had been no major accidents. Oskar Heim eventually recovered from his injuries, but he would never pilot an airplane again. The Kriegsministerium awarded him a special prize of 1,500 Mark, part of the unclaimed prize money from other contests.

According to "L'Auto", the Kriegsministerium on the day after the meeting announced a prize for dropping a five-kilogram weight from an altitude of 50 metres on a five by three metre rectangular target. None of the pilots present entered, since they didn't think it was safe. It was reported that Brunnhuber flew for 63 minutes and Laitsch for 59 minutes.

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