A historic flight makes history again

A historic flight makes history again

One of the last great adventures in the history of aviation happened exactly ten years ago: A crew from Germany and the United States took off on August 20, 2010 in Minneapolis, USA, to fly over the North Atlantic to Frankfurt/Main. The aircraft: a 82-year-old amphibious type Sikorsky S-38.


The twin-engine aircraft built in the late twenties in the USA was used as a “flying yacht” on the US continent – with this type of plane passenger traffic started. In the 1990s the S-38 belonged to the experienced US pilot Thomas Schrade, who brought the oldtimer back into top condition. On board the historic flight ten years ago: A crew enthusiastically connected to aviation like pilot and owner Thomas Schrade, the former German astronaut Dr. Ulf Merbold, the former Airbus CEO Tom Enders, the German glider world champion Bruno Gantenbrink and Frank Franke, director of Luftfahrt ohne Grenzen/Wings of Help. Franke designed the flight with its more than one dozen stages between the USA and Europe as the “World Children’s Flight” and thus created donations for needy children all over the world in the five-digit amount.


The route from Minneapolis in the Midwest went to Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland and Frankfurt within ten days – in an aircraft veteran without modern technical aids, with manual control that requires strength and endurance, and – most dangerous – without a de-icing system. Always flying below the cloud line to prevent dangerous ice formation on the aircraft.


The S-38 was built around 100 times and was a sales success in the early years of air traffic. In the late twenties an early thirties, there were several attempts to cross the North Atlantic with a seaplane of this type, all of which ended in disaster: the niece of former President Wodrow Wilson wanted to be the first woman to fly to Europe from America in 1929 and was lost in the Atlantic. Two journalists from the Chicago Tribune newspaper also started the adventure a little later and plunged into the ocean where they crashed. All of them aimed to follow Charles Lindbergh and his first Atlantic flight between New York and Paris in 1927.


The S-38 is now in a museum in the United States. Occasionally, the aged aircraft can be seen at special aviation events in the sky over Florida. Our pictures show the Sikorsky amphibious plane over Greenland and an enthusiastically relieved crew upon arrival in Frankfurt am Main on August 30, 2010 (Photos: LOG)

The happy crew at its arrival in Frankfurt am Main August 30th 2010