Sunday, August 06, 2017

A Former Luftwaffe Pilot (and Some Planes)

I was going to do this blog two weeks ago about the same time as the Dunkirk movie and the blog about that Spitfire, but decided to wait. Part of the reason was that movie really does not show any German humans in it. I think that is one of the movies strengths since you never see the face of the enemy in that movie. It turns it into a horror survival story against invisible enemies. On the other hand, a movie like the classic Battle of Britain (1969) gives a respectable look at the enemy side.

Some months back I was able to visit the Palm Springs Air Museum to hear the story of a former Luftwaffe pilot. Harald Bauer was a teenager when he flying for the Luftwaffe near the end of the war. He flew mostly Fw-190s and then He-162 jets. He was eventually shot down in a He-162 by a P-51 as the 8th Air Force was bombing the base he was at.
Harald Bauer (#2)
He survived the crash and was captured. Since his mother was living in Germany and was an American, he was classified as an American at the end of the world. Eventually he got involved in journalism and came to the U.S. Then during the Korean War he flew for the U.S., but not as a fighter pilot. He flew a Lockheed Constellation near Alaska (I think). He currently lives in Atascadero, CA.

The He-162 jet:
He 162 1a (#3)
He explains further details of his life in the videos I'll link below. I was glad I got to see him in person and hear his story. As I've said before, we are nearing the end of the lives of those who participated in WW2 so if you have a chance to hear from one then do so. Where I am at WW2 pilots are rare, but even rarer are Luftwaffe pilots.
He 162 1a (#2)
Another look at the He-162 at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, CA.

Not really related to Bauer's story, but since I am showing some German Luftwaffe planes I should probably mention BF 109E #3523:
BF 109E #3523 (#1)
Built in 1939, this was flown in the Battle of France and Battle of Britain as an E-1. Then it was upgraded to E-7 and sent to the eastern front. Wulf-Dietrich Widowitz flew it and was shot down during an escort mission by a hurricane. He made a perfect wheels up landing on the ice of frozen lake. The plane sank and was recovered in 2003. They intend to restore it at a later date.
BF 109E #3523 (#2)

Click here for more pictures I have taken of some of these German Luftwaffe planes.

Other links:

To hear Harald Bauer's story go to this YouTube link: Heinkel He 162 Jet Fighter Test Pilot

The Flying Heritage site has a good interview of him as well: Commander Harald Bauer

An article on the Bf 109 #3523 and its recovery.

This will probably be the last of my blogs dealing with airplanes for while. There is something I probably do sometime next year, but it is time to get to nature in the next blog. Up next time will be the blog, video, and pictures that I have put off and off for the past year or so, but will finally get to. It is something that I have wanted to do, but how to present it is difficult. Well, let's see if I can do it.