Grosse Münchener Flugwoche
Puchheim, Germany, May 22nd - 26th, 1910

The first aviation meeting in Bavaria - high winds and not much flying

Baron Pierre de Caters at the controls of his machine, as usual with a cigarette in his mouth. His earlier machines had Vivinus or Gobron-Brillié engines, but this is an ENV V-8. (1)
Baron de Caters' Voisin in front of the hangars. (2)
Simon Brunnhuber's Antoinette. (2)
De Caters' machine pulled by a horse. (3)
A montage showing the hangar of Baron de Caters and (presumably) Emil Jeannin and de Caters flying. (4)
A heavily retouched "official" postcard showing de Caters.
A poster for the "Akadademie für Aviatik", depicting the two towers of the "Frauenkirche", the cathedral of Munich.

Munich is the capital of Bavaria, which in 1909 although part of the German empire was a kingdom with its own king. It was Germany's fourth biggest town, with a population of around 600,000.

The Munich "Akademie für Aviatik" was founded in 1909, mainly by members of the Royal Bavarian Automobile Club. Its main aim was promoting aviation, particularly by flying dirigibles and other flying machines. This included building an airfield with all necessary installations, but also creating a library and a museum and the awarding of prizes for competitions. Suitable grounds for an airfield were found in the village of Puchheim, 15 kilometres west of central Munich, where 76 hectares of moorland was bought and leased. A modern and completely equipped airfield with a two-kilometre race course was built.

It was decided to celebrate the opening of the airfield by organizing an "aviation week" of five days in the end of May, starting less than a week after the Berlin-Johannisthal spring meeting.

Five pilots were engaged. Emil Jeannin, Baron Pierre de Caters and Ellery von Gorrissen came directly from the Berlin meeting, where the two former had been very successful. They were accompanied by Belgian Jules Tyck on a Blériot and local Munich man Simon Brunnhuber on one of the Antoinettes bought by Walther Huth, who would later start the Albatros company.

The program included seven different contests, for total flying time, longest non-stop flight, highest altitude, speed over both one and five laps of the course, cross-country flight and passenger flight.

The airfield was officially opened the day before the meeting, in the presence of press and invited guests, and de Caters was asked to make a couple of flights. He had difficulties taking off from the uneven field, but finally managed a flight of three laps. He then tried to make a passenger flight, but had to give up when the propeller struck the ground.

Sunday 22 May
The weather on the opening day of the meeting was windy, with wind speeds reaching around 13 m/s. It was intended that flights would start at four o'clock, but due to the strong and gusty winds the delays went on and on. For the first couple of hours the more than 20,000 spectators were patient and let themselves be amused by the music from the three orchestras.

At around six o'clock the winds began to decrease, but by then the most impatient spectators in the cheapest spectator area at the far side of field had had enough of waiting and climbed over the fences. The few policemen and the fire brigade could do nothing as a big crowd advanced towards the hangars, headed by a man waving a signal flag stolen from the officials. Things looked nasty, but Baron de Caters saved the peace by rolling out his Voisin. He had some mechanical problems, but von Gorrissen let him use his machine and when the field had been cleared he made the first flight, at around 18:45. He was in the air for twelve minutes, completing six laps of the course. Afterwards Jeannin made a one-lap flight, but had to land with engine problems. The day's activities closed at 19:45.

Monday 23 May
The weather on the second day was even windier, with wind speeds reaching 15 m/s. All flying was impossible and the tickets of the disappointed spectators were refunded.

Tuesday 24 May
The weather was better on the third day, but the 10,000-12,000 spectators still had to wait until five o'clock before de Caters rolled out his machine, deciding to fly despite wind speeds of 6-7 m/s. At 17:15 he made a short flight, posting a time of 2:32 for the one lap speed contest, but since the clouds started to look threatening he decided to land. Half an hour later Jeannin made a short but rather high flight. De Caters and Jeannin both made a couple of more short flights before the flying stopped at around half past seven, and von Gorrissen and Brunnhuber each made one. Brunnhuber had to give up his last effort since the engine of his Antoinette didn't run well. After the end of the say's flights de Caters led the standings in the total flight time contest with 34:58, before Jeannin (16:34) and von Gorrissen (7:58).

Wednesday 25 May
The meeting was honoured by a visit of princes Leopold and Ferdinand of Bavaria and the three princesses Gisela, Klara and Pilar. It was still a bit windy, and since the wind was blowing from the south-west there was tailwind from the hangar area towards the starting line that made it difficult to take off.

The winds didn't stop von Gorrissen, who made a cross-country flight over the nearby villages of Puchheim and Aubingen south and south-east of the airfield. He flew above roofs and chimneys at altitudes estimated to up to 150 metres. After a flight of 7:33 he landed safely. He made two further flights, in total 17:45. Baron de Caters flew a couple of laps during a flight of 7:12 and Jeannin made a flight of 14:25.

Thursday 26 May
After a rainy and windy morning calmer weather finally arrived on the last day of the meeting, but the clouds were still threatening. 10,000-12,000 paying spectators lined the field, in addition to the many who watched from outside the fences. 8,000 people had travelled to the airfield on the extra trains provided.

Tyck was first in the air and made his first flight of the meeting already at three o'clock, but it was only a short straight hop. When had had returned to the hangars it started to rain. Then de Caters made a fine flight of five or six laps in von Gorrissen's machine. De Caters' engine had failed and had been completely taken apart by his mechanics, who blamed the problems on bad fuel and oil. The race committee decided that in the total flight time contest the time that de Caters flew on von Gorrissen's machine would be credited fifty-fifty to the two pilots. Tyck made another flight, but after three quarters of a lap he was blown outside the airfield wall and had to land in a field. The landing went well, but he couldn't take off and fly back, so his machine had to be lifted and carried over the wall.

Around 17:45 Jeannin made his effort for the 10-kilometre speed contest. He posted a time of 10:41, which would eventually win him the prize, and then kept flying for a total 24 minutes. His fastest lap was 2:06. While Jeannin was flying, Brunnhuber brought out his machine. After a good take-off he flew a lap, but his engine started to miss and he was forced to land. The landing was rather hard and the front skid dug into the ground. The landing gear was ripped off and the propeller and the right wing were damaged, but the pilot was unharmed. The machine lay on the ground in the middle of the field, "like a wounded bird with its wings spread", and had to be disassembled and brought back to the hangars.

Jeannin only made a short stop and took off again for a flight that lasted 25:27.6, the longest of the meeting. He reached an altitude of 80 metres and impressed the crowds by shutting down his engine and gliding, before restarting it again. He also improved his time in the single-lap speed contest, to 1:55. Tyck's Blériot had been returned to the hangars and at seven o'clock he made a flight of one and a half lap. De Caters made a flight of 13:30.6. Von Gorrissen took over the machine and made two flights. The first lasted more than 13 minutes, but the second was cut short by problems with the elevators, which didn't work well. At the last moment, at 19:54, Jeannin took off to go for the altitude contest. He flew in tight circles and quickly reached 120 metres. His flight over the illuminated airfield "offered a wonderful picture" and was a worthy end to the meeting.

The weather didn't allow the five flyers to accumulate even three and a half hours of total flying time over the five days, which was of course a disappointment to both spectators and organizers. The results were hardly sensational, but under the circumstances it was of course unrealistic to expect any spectacular performances. Jeannin made a clean sweep of all the events, with a total flying time of 1 h 29:19, the longest non-stop flight of 25:27, a highest altitude of 120 metres and the best speeds over both two and ten kilometres. The second busiest flyer was von Gorrissen, who was in the air for 1 h 09:09.

Despite the lack of action the meeting was a crowd success and attracted visitors from all categories of people: "capuchin friars, politicians, companies of soldiers with their officers, farmers in traditional costumes, confirmands and even the inmates of a home for young boys with their teacher". Nevertheless, the ticket sales and other income from the meeting did not cover the expenses of building the airfield and organizing the event. The Akademie was already planning a second meeting for September, but it was overstretching its finances and would be threatened by bankruptcy after the two meetings.

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