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Hannah Reitsch - German Aviatrix

by John M. White |

In 1937 Hanna Reitsch was assigned to the Luftwafffe testing center and became a test pilot on the Junkers "Stuka" dive bomber and the twin engine Dornier Do17 bomber projects. Later she became one of very few pilots who flew the fully controllable German helicopter, the Achgelis Fa 61. Hanna_reitsch_helicopter

As the Allies were surrounding Berlin Hanna Reitsch and her life partner General Ritter von Greim made an amazing attempt to rescue Hitler by flying a small aircraft into Berlin and landing in front of the Brandenbug Gate in order to remove Hitler from Berlin before the Allies could capture him.

Unknown to the pair Hitler had already decided to commit suicide and would never leave the bunker alive. They were captured and interviewed by American military intelligence officers and she was held for 18 months by the Allies.  During this time von Greim committed suicide, and her father killed her entire family and then committed suicide himself.

For a number of years after the war Germans were forbidden to fly but a few years later flying gliders was allowed.  Reitsch returned to the air and in 1952 placed 3rd in the World Gliding Championships in Spain.  Over the next twenty plus years she continued to break many gliding records, including becoming the first women to cross the Alps in a glider.  She also came to the United States to compete flying gliders, and also finished first in the 1st World Helicopter Championships women's division.

Truly an amazing career for an amazing woman.  Hannah Reitsch died in  1979 after an incredible career in aviation.

Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!


"Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace,
The soul that knows it not
Knows no release from little things:
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.

How can life grant us boon of living,
compensate for dull gray ugliness and pregnant hage,
Unless we dare the soul's dominion?

Each time we make a choice,
we pay with courage to behold the resistless day,
and count it fair."

COURAGE, a poem by Amelia Earhart

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