‘A party organised BY pilots FOR pilots’ is the motto of this, the largest fly-in in Europe that celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013. The 1993 event was aimed specifically at the microlight community but such was the popularity of the event, and the evolution of the light weight aircraft such that it is often barely discernable from its heavier cousins, that it soon expanded.
A German magazine dubbed it Tannkosh in 2003 echoing its American shadow at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This was also the first year that aircraft attendance topped 500; it has never dropped to this level since!
August in Germany is vulnerable to the weather and this year was no different; a glorious start saw over a thousand arrivals by Friday night though the weather threatened from Saturday lunchtime onward. There was a predictable spread of ex Soviet types with overseas registered Yaks in particular. Of particular interest was a Hungarian Ag-Cat and ex East German PZL Kruk that performed a crop-spraying routine on Friday afternoon.
Red Bull, a primary contributor, added some superb aerobatics contrasting well with historic ‘classics’, this year the Ju-52 and Irish DH Dragon being particularly welcome. Visitors from Europe came mainly from Switzerland, France, Austria, Belgium and the UK with a fairly full spectrum of single-engined types represented. A most original demonstration was a co-ordinated aerobatic routine pairing a Siat SF260 in Belgian Air Force marks with a scale model of itself. Controlled from the ground the synchronisation was impressive and very well received by the eager and well informed audience.
Visitors, both pilots, passengers and spectators, can take advantage of numerous free workshops and briefings through the weekend as well as evening entertainment. A safe but relaxed attitude prevails with little evidence of imposed security or hyped prices for catering and the like. The attention to safety was evident on the Saturday when the expectation of strong winds and bad weather arriving led to early warnings for those wishing to fly out to go before the flying display commenced. Long queues formed on the parallel taxiways as pilots patiently waited their turn. Unfortunately, the replica Udet biplane from Sinsheim left the runway prematurely during this exodus ending up nosed over into the cornfield on the non-public boundary. This suspended all movements for a few hours whilst the efficient Tannheim Team and emergency services dealt with the aftermath.
This delay and the timed commitments of flying exhibits like the Red Bull P-38 Lightning and expected flyby of the Breitling Super Constellation which were then unable to display, left Saturday afternoon a little quiet by comparison to Friday’s celebrations but, to the Team’s credit, by early evening, excitement was restored by the holding of a ‘looping’ contest between Red Bull’s Bolkow 105 and an Edge 540. The aim was to complete as many loops as possible in 3 minutes. Both teams achieved eighteen loops. The helicopter was flown by Rainer Wilke and the Edge by Matthias Dolderer. Matthias and his sister Verena run both the airport and the event, assisted by over 200 volunteers. The fly-in was initiated by their parents who still live on site.
Unfortunately, the predicted bad weather, combined with the brief airfield closure on Saturday afternoon, prevented a great many arrivals adding to this year’s statistics but, for those that came early, this year’s event was highly successful in a great many ways.