Where's Frankie?

Flying High

Friday 4th October

Its a good job I write this blog, I couldn’t remember where we were two days ago. Our next tick off the list is at Friedrichshafen and we had a choice of three stellplatz. €20 per night but only open during festivals, €13.50 but very poor reviews or diddly squat and just out of town. You should know me by now so off we went to a spotters paradise. In front of us was the Bodensee airport, behind us was the train line, if only I had a notebook with me, I could have been taking loads of numbers.

On the way to Friedrichshafen we noticed that all the supermarkets and shops were closed and there were huge queues of traffic trying to get away from where we were going. It turns out that Thursday is Reunification Day for Germany which is a public holiday.

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The stellplatz is actually part of the Dornier museum and since Lucy loves a good museum we had to pay it a visit. Above is the worlds only vertical takeoff transport plane. The normal looking engines are the same as those used in the Harrier Jump Jet with rotating nozzles just visible on the side. What I didn’t realise until reading about it inside the museum was that the large lump at the end of each wing has doors at top and bottom. They open and then the four vertically placed jet engines each side lift the plane up. Dornier only built two of these experimental aircraft, unfortunately the idea didn’t really take off (that’s Lucy’s joke, not bad for a girl).

Every exhibit was multilingual and it was fascinating to read about the history of German aircraft manufacture, stopped after each World War requiring the manufacturers to diversify, build aircraft abroad or try to keep within the strict rules given to them by the allied forces. Some of you may remember the Messerschmidt and Heinkel cars, both a result of the restrictions. 

Claude Dornier was an outstanding engineer and went to work for Ferdinand von Zeppelin. After designing a prize winning zeppelin hanger which could rotate Zeppelin created a new division and put Dornier in charge. Dornier speciality was lightweight structures (Zeppelin connection), flying boats and short take off aircraft.

Between the wars Britain was striving to create a reliable transport and communication link with the colonies, in particular India. France was doing the same but in Africa so Germany looked at North and South America and had a thriving business up and down the Atlantic Coast. Some of the flying boats were immense with up to 12 engines in some cases.

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Dornier have since branched out into all manner of highly specialist ventures including communications, solar energy and space.

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Dornier drones.

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Satellites as well as part of the Ariane rocket and habitation systems for Skylab.

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Small ground attack aircraft. The Alpha jet, built in conjunction with Dassault. Apparently during test flying on this plane one of the tests was to induce a spin and see how easy it is to get out of it. It took a long time before the test pilots worked out how to get the Alpha jet to spin and eventually when they did, all they had to do was release everything and it would sort itself out.

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This was a funny plane. It looked like a toy plane with big wings had landed on top of another plane with short stubby wings. The idea was to keep the propellers away from the water.

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Dornier also built Bell UH-10 (Huey) helicopters under licence.

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Lucy wanted to be the Red Baron.

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Opposite the Dornier museum is a Zeppelin hanger. We waited ages for these two to take off, once we looked away they were sky high.

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It’s a Fiat, not as fast as our Frankie of course.

We spent ages in the Dornier museum and by the time we left it was too late to visit our second place. We had decided that first thing next morning we would cycle in (2.5 miles) to the Zeppelin Museum but it was raining rather hard and it was freezing cold. So cold that for the first time this trip I’ve had to resort to trousers, socks and jumper. We jumped on the bus instead.

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This is a recreation of part of the LZ 129 Hindenburg. It was immense, over 245m long and built to compete with transatlantic liners of the day. 

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Inside part of the frame. Unlike the Dornier Museum most of the displays were not bilingual. If we were to go again we would definitely get the audio guide and go on a day without lots of kids. Again, the history of the Zeppelin works was interesting.

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We did spend a long time in the museum but outside it was cold, grey and wet. The lake looked very uninviting so back on the bus and then off to our next stop Ravensburg where I’m hoping to see at least one jigsaw puzzle.

Tomorrow is market day, we’re staying indoors and hoping the weather improves.

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