A Glimpse Into The History Of The Home Of Mazury Airshow
Guest Editorial submitted by Jakub Fajfer – I am honored to invite you to take part in the XX edition of Mazury Airshow. The Seaplane event will take place from the 4th – 5th August 2018. I would like to draw your attention to the history behind the area of this very special event.
Kętrzyn Wilamowo Airport
The place of all the take offs and landings for the planes taking part in the show. It came into being just before the end of 1935 in Rastenburg (Kętrzyn) in East Prussia (Ostpreußen) as a small local sports airport. During WWII it served as a strategic airport of the top secret Adolf Hitler’s military headquarters „Wolf’s Liar”
After the building of one of the main Fuhrer’s headquarters had started (Wolf’s Liar/Wolfschanze) in the small village called Gierłoż Gorlitz), in 1940, a decision was made. It referred to developing a nearby airport and adapting it to Hitler’s needs, that is transport both passengers and goods. In the south part of the airport two crossing runways were built, forming the letter X. Both had the width of 50m. One had the length of 1200m and the other 900m. It allowed to service Heinkel He 111 or Dornier Do 17 -twin engine planes, and most of all three-motor transporters Junkers Ju 52/3m as well as Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor which was a German made 4 all-metal four-engine monoplane originally developed by Focke–Wulf as a long-range airliner.
The most famous assassination attempt on Hitler’s life (featured in Bryan Singer’s film with Tom Cruise in the leading role) is connected with this airport. On Thursday, 20 th July 1944, Obst. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg flew from Rangsdorf Airport to Rastenburg on board of Heinkel He 111 plane. On the same day he attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler, Führer of Nazi Germany, inside his Wolfs Lair field headquarters. After the detonation he came back to Berlin on the same plane.
Death of the Reichsminister for Armaments and Ammunition
On February 8th 1942 around 8 a.m. the Heinkel He 111 took off from the Rastenburg airport with the Reichsminister for Armaments and Ammunition, Dr. Fritz Todt on board – the officer personally responsible for building the Wolf’s Liar but also the one who informed Hitler, on 29th. November 1941, a few months before his death, that; from an armaments and war economy point of view, Germany had already lost the war.
The Minister usually used a Junkers Ju 52/3m plane, but because the service was still in progress, the German Field Marshal of the Luftwaffe Hugo Sperrle had given him his personal plane – a Heinkel He 111. Todt agreed and after the meeting with Hitler in the Wolfs Lair, hurried to Munich to avoid being late for an evening concert he was going to with his wife.
The weather conditions were good, cloud ceiling around 300m (1000ft). The plane took off without any problems, however after a short while the pilot started an emergency landing procedure. The plane plunged toward the ground in flames and crashed, killing all on board: the pilot – Lt. Albert Hotz, the radio operator – Ofw. Karl Bäuerle and Dr. Fritz Todt.
The official report stated that the pilot, accidentally, moved the switch which set off the self-destruction mechanism. In the civil aircrafts such as the Ju 52/3m, which Lt. Hotz was accustomed to, there was no such device unlike in the He- 111, a bit modified version of a bomber airplane, where this type of switch was mounted as standard equipment and used in case of an emergency landing behind enemy lines. A one kilo (2 lbs) explosive load with quite a blast could completely destroy the aircraft after a three minute delay.
A plane was built here only 7 years after the first flight of Wright brothers
In 1910, less than seven years after the first flight of the Wright Brothers (17.02.1903) in the Friedrich Fest’s company in Rößel (Reszel nowadays – 15 km from the Kętrzyn Wilamowo airport) a plane was built. It was the project of Bloess, an engineer from Rastenburg rzyn). The plane, as usual for the beginnings of the aviation era, was a modern monoplane with the 50HP engine, the length of 10m and width of 14m. It weighted 450kg.
The Niegocin Lake
The lake, which is the main scene for the Mazury Air Show event, is situated in the north-eastern Poland, in the south of Gizycko. It is the seventh largest lake in Poland, with an area of 26.04 square Kilometers (10.05 sq mi) and Maximum depth of 39.7 metres (130 ft). The most spectacular aviation event in 1929-1935 years, the one really worth mentioning, was the air service in The Great Masurian Lake District – well-kept thanks to the use of a huge seaplane. The glorious Dornier Do-X flew to Giżycko (Lötzen) and landed on the Niegocin Lake.
Nowadays, at the beginning of August, the Niegocin Lake looks like this:
Masuria – A One Of A Kind Experience
You can see European Bison here. Borki Wilderness is the place where the Bison Breeding Centre is located. The biggest touristic attraction is the possibility to watch these Bison being fed. At first the animals were kept in folds. However, after they had escaped to the nearby forest, it was decided to allow them to live their life in the wild.
There are descendants of Wild Horses on the Popielinski Penisula, where you can observe 4 hordes of the Konik or the Polish primitive horses in their natural habitat. Last but not least, the Waterwheel Plant, Aldrovanda Vesiculosa – is the sole extant species in the flowering plant genus Aldrovanda. One of the places where you can find this carnivorous plant is Masuria.
The region situated in north-eastern Poland, with the Niegocin Lake and the Kętrzyn Wilamowo Airport – the places where the Mazury AirShow takes place. It is a very captivating area for tourists, with breath-taking views. Especially attractive from the aviation point of view, and particularly for seaplanes. Called the Land of the thousand lakes, which sounds fabulous, is in reality the land of 2600 lakes.
You will not regret your visit to our beautiful area. Masuria was the finalist of “The New 7 Wonders of the World” competition conducted over the period from 2009 – 2011. It was in the group of 28 competitors, together with the Maldives, the Amazon Rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, the Galapagos Islands, the Komodo National Park and many others. We can’t wait to welcome you here and look forward to seeing you at the International Mazury Airshow 2018.
About Jakub Fajfer
Jakub Fajfer is a Private Pilot and Parachute Jumper as well as member of the Gdansk Aero Club. He serves as the Co-Organizer of Mazury Air Show and also as Chief of Pilots Cooperation Team responsible for event pilots acquisition, cooperation and all contacts, responsible for the show program. Born in Masuria, he spends his everyday life in Gdansk, Poland. To learn more about the Mazury Airshow, please visit mazuryairshow.pl