On the weekend of 15 and 16th September, Hamburg International airport organized a huge historic event, which will be remembered for a long time. Visitors from all over Europe were invited to join in for the air-displays, exhibitions, pleasure flights and an Air Fair. The star guest of the weekend was for sure the giant Airbus A380 double Decker. Saturday evening several bands performed in an open air concert near the hangers. The Lufthansa Technik base was open to the public as well. More than 100 modern and historic helicopters and airplanes attended the show. Civil and military jets, spanning from 100 years powered flight could be admired by young and old. What made this show very appealing for me was the large numbers of Propliners, never to be seen together at one spot.
In the end eight Douglas DC-3s, 1x Douglas DC-2, 1x Lusinov LI-2 made it to Hamburg. They where accompanied by the resident Lufthansa Junker JU-52, a French Noratlas, Antonov-AN2s, De-Haviland Dove, the list goes on. The highlight for me was the get-together of the Air Atlantic DC-6A (in KLM colors), the immaculate Flying Bulls DC-6B and the ‘the Queen of the skies” – the Breitling Lockeed C-121C Super Constellation. This formation has not been seen in Europe before. The sky gods where in our favor and they treated us with blue skies and sunny weather. The stiff cool wind on Saturday prohibited the mass formation, but on Sundays the condition was far better and the mass formation of the LI-2, DC-2, DC-3s, DC-6 and Connie made it to the skies. It was an awesome sight and sound the hear all the piston engines start up simultaneously! Then one by one they roared upwards in the cool afternoon breeze. Formatting over the city of Hamburg the mass formation droned over the field, thrilling the crowds. An attempt was made to get into entry in the ‘Guinness book of records’ with this large formation! Not sure if they succeeded?
Arriving in Style
For many months I had planned the trip to Hamburg for the Airport Open Days. The long list off Propliner expected, gave me a good enough reason to go. Together with my friend Jan Koppen who also lives in my home town Hoofddorp, we decided to drive out to Hamburg for the weekend. The plan was to drive Friday early mourning and visit a friend working at Airbus Finkenwerder during the afternoon. From previous days working for Airbus I knew a small and cheap hotel which we booked in advance. This way we could keep cost to a minimum. We could use the Hamburg U and S bahn, underground trams to arrive early at the show.
Two weeks prior to Hamburg I attended the Aviodrome Giants of Air show at the Lelystad air museum. The highlight that weekend was the unveiling of a KLM Douglas DC-6A (ex Air Atlantic G-APSA)), which was going to be used for a new forthcoming Dutch movie. The museum is only a 30 minutes drive away and I attended both days. During the static display I ran into one of the captains onboard the G-APSA and he was also the captain of the Flying Bulls DC-6B. We had met a year before, when The Flying Bulls visited Amsterdam Airport with the DC-6.
We got talking about Propliners and out of the blue he mentioned that I could come with them to Hamburg Air-show! It was going to be a morning flight (ETA 11.45) out of Salzburg and you are welcome to join us. WOW…I was pleasantly surprised and gladly accepted his offer. Now only I had to re-arrange our driving trip to Hamburg! Luckily my friend Jan was also accepted on the flight. It would be an 800-900 km’s drive towards the south of Germany, passing Munich. We drove through the night and did it in 8.45 hours, arriving early morning at Salzburg Airport. We slept for about an hour in the car before the bright sun came out. It was time to get a few cups of strong black coffee!
Douglas DC-6B N996DM (c/n 45563) is seen here parked next to the Flying Bulls ramp, basking in the morning sun, in preparation of our flight to Hamburg. Already refueled, we are ready to go. Jan and my self are waiting for the crew to turn up.
At around 11.30 hours local time we boarded the DC-6. This aircraft is in perfect trim, both inside and outside. Many hours have been spent polishing her skin. As I looked inside the cockpit both pilots, Captain Raimund Riedman and co-pilot Thomas Muigg, were going through the before engine start check list. To our surprise Jan and I were the only two passengers onboard. We felt honored to be onboard this VIP DC-6 aircraft. !
We took off from runway 16 towards the south and then made a sharp right-hand turn towards the north. We crossed the Salzach River towards the German border. In the distance the Alps Mountains dominate the skyline.
Here is a close-up view of engine number #1 as we turned sharply, avoiding the high peaks of the Unterberg mountain.
This is a left-hand view of the cockpit forward instrument screen. We were continuing our slow climb to cruise altitude. Looking at the instruments I could tell that we where climbing through an altitude of 4.700 ft with a speed off 190 knots. All four 2.500 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800 CB17 radial engines were running at 2.400 rmp’s and at 39 inch manifold pressure.
Almost 2 hours into our flight we arrived overhead the city of Hamburg, starting our approach to the airport. Here we are crossing the Elbe River near the city center, with on RH side the huge shipping docks and LH side harbor boulevard.
We would like to thanks our host for a great time onboard the DC-6B. Also we would like to thank Captain Raimund Riedman, co-pilot Thomas Muigg, F/E Andy Chambers & Sylvia Pichler for the help and assistance…..se you next time.