" BJOERN ANDREASSON MEMORIALFLIGHT "
A GERMAN PILOT ACROSS THE
ST. Augustine Florida
--- San Diego California
And back !
With the Boelkow Junior BO 208 C
N 2 0 8 W C 1965
Pilot: Gunther H. Butterweck 62
Co: W. Fischer 68
PPL GPL FI
I have been flying gliders, motorgliders and light aircraft for 42 years with a standard of gold
C and diamonds. Thirty years ago I became a Flying Instructor and
have been a proud Boelkow Junior owner for the last 20
years. I have restored three of them and have flown cross country all
over Europe organising a Boelkow "Fly In" in 1994. The
Boelkow Junior is derived from the MFI 9B from Sweden so I have good
contacts with the Swedish MFI Flyers and have come to know the
manager of MFI Malmö, and read books about the designer of this
beautiful aircraft :
Mister BJOERN ANDREASSON
So what can we do by way of an adventure in the last month of the
passing century ?
What is left as an adventure for a VFR-pilot?
Like many things in this world you have
to have good flying-friends !!
Fortunately for me I have some good
friends in the USA. The first are my very good friends Wolfgang and
Christine Schmelzer, a German couple who are also proud Boelkow
owners. They have lived for four years in the flying community "
KITTY HAWK " in northern Florida, spending the winters there and
the summer back in Europe. They took their Boelkow 208 to the USA and bought a
Maule and a Libelle glider. Both of them are privat pilots, born
glider pilots and flight instructors so living there in Florida is an
absolute paradise for such dedicated flying people.
Also in the USA is another good friend
Larry Petersen and his lovely wife Helen. He also has a Boelkow 208
and by coincidence keeps it at the same airfield in California where
the first flight of the Andreasson BA7 was made. The BA7 was designed
and constructed as a homebuilt by Mr Andreasson making this first
flight on 10th October 1958 powered by a Continental C75.
From this design evolved both the MFI 9 and then the Boelkow 208.
Both sets of friends had been inviting
me to stay for several years and so the plan for this great adventure
started to evolve: why not borrow the Bolkow that is in Florida and
fly the whole width of America and visit the other friends in
California? The Schmelzers agreed immediately to lend the Boelkow and
aslo to fly with us in their Maule.
The flight across the USA was to be from St. Augustine FL to San Diego CA !
And back, of course, to Florida again in the Boelkow BO 208 C, N208WC.
Now you may have realised that WC stands for Wolfgang and Christine.
This beautiful pair makes the crew complete; two pilots in
the BO 208 and two pilots in the Maule which will also carry all
the baggage. We plan to fly in a loose formation.
After intensive planning between
Germany, Florida and California, the day comes to start the great
atventure! Even the
date looks good 9th of September 99 becomes 9.9.99 in the log books !!!
We go by Eurowings from Cologne to
Amsterdam, then on to Memphis with KLM. Finally a very old, short DC9
of NorthWest takes us to Jacksonville where we are picked up by,
Wolfgang who takes us to his home, Live Oak at the Kitty Hawk
airpark. This is located south of the highway I 10 and west of Lake
City but, the most important fact for my soul was that it was close
to the legendary Suwannee River!
During our first day at the Kitty Hawk flying community we commenced
our initiation into flying the BO N208WC in a new environment.
As Germans, to depart and approach without a towercrew, was very unusual
but no landing fees? That was really something!!
Next day, we depart with the BO and the
Maule to another airpark (Cannon Creek)
for breakfast. This is a regular
celebration for the Flying Club every Saturday morning, and only
costs a few dollars. Where ever you touchdown with the 208,
interested pilots admire this smart looking little plane with its brandnew
colourscheme in red and yellow. After breakefast, the two aircraft set
course to east to land in St. Augustine, the
most eastern point of our long trip to
the westcoast of the USA!
During Sunday the 12th,
Christine shows me the country arround Kitty Hawk, Live Oak
and the airfield of Suwannee County together with many other private
airstrips. However my favourite was the region of THE SUWANNEE RIVER.
Wolfgang had decided not to start the trip on the 13th
which was ok, we understood!!
So on 14th of September,
after very careful routeplanning and much studying of the weather
situation, we set off. Hurrican "Floyd" had just moved
north from the Miami area which for us meant a welcome tailwind for
the initial part of our journey. The Boelkow and Maule had 25Kts from
behind and CAVOK as we crossed woods after woods after woods, hours
upon hour, for fuelstops in Bay Minette Alabama and Eunice Louisiana
before reaching Cleveland in Texas for our first nightstop.
The airfieldchief help us a lot with
refueling, weatherbriefing and finding us somewhere to stay for the
night.That first day had put more then 600 nm under our wings from
our homebase at Kitty Hawk! Looking back on that first momentous day
the absolute highlight for me was the crossing of the mighty
Mississippi, the "Old Man River" himself!!
Next day was also CAVOK of course, and
we headed west once again and always Texas underneath us. We landed
first at Horseshoe Bay Tx. Just to the west of Austin. This is right
beside a lake and the Colorado river and has been developed as a
wonderful vacation area. A young, well dressed, lady and a gentleman
welcomed us for refueling and bought us hot coffee and sweets. Of
course there were no langding fees or even a tower but nonetheless
there was plenty of business jet traffic!! It was hard to say good bye to this
lovely place which looked like it belonged to Hollywood. So once again
in CAVOK we set course towards Fort Stockton Tx, overflying many operational
"Nodding Donkeys" the locals call them, up and down, up and
down a Dollar a Dollar!!
After refueling, we were allowed to put
the aircraft in the hangar. The chief of the hotel, a lady, picked us
up in a big car. Next morning, the third day of the
trip, we approached West Texas airfield, very close to the Mexican
border and of course EL PASO,
with two very busy airports and active jet traffic. The boss of the
airfield, an old glider instructor, gave us useful hints, to do a shortcut
via the Mexican border, the town of
Juarez, to keep clear of the large, busy El Paso CTR. Finally our last westbound leg and the
ground climbs up from 3000 ft to 4000 ft. The high density altitude give us in
the Boelkow a small climb rate, very small !! After crossing Juarez very low, we
looked in the eyes of the Mexican, and climbed slowly via Santa Anna airfield, following a
big electric powerline, back to our westerly course.
For our final stop of this third day,
we planned Cochise airfield in Arizona at nearly 4500 ft elevation
and very close to the town Wilcox. This was significant as Cochise,
the big Indian chief and Wilcox is where the entertainer Rex Allan
was born. The airfieldchiefs, Louise and Jim Walden, served us fuel
and provided good trip information and a private car to go to Wilcox
for a hotel and sightseeing, many thanks to these nice people. Last
day on our CAVOK trip let us climb, in very hot weather conditions,
to nearly 8000 ft enabling us to cross the south part of the rockies.
The course goes straight across Tucson
Az, and right between two busy military airbases alongside the I10
highway. So we had to call the military controller for a clearance,
but no problem ! The next refueling
point was Gila Bend, southwest of Phoenix Az, in the desert.
After touchdown, taxiing to the
pump, we found that there was no fuel available, so it proved to be a
good habit to do no more than three hours between the fuelstops as we
now had one hour of flight time to find an alternative. This proved
to be Yuma airbase, a combined military and civil airport
and we soon made contact and obtained landing instructions without
problem! However after touching down on the concrete with an outside
air temperature of 46 C it felt like we were on a grill when we
opened the canopy. It really was "High noon"! The fuel
price was relatively high at 2,35 Dollar for a gallon but, as usual
no landing fees. After an hour, we departed for our
final leg to Gillespie Field, El Cajon, SanDiego, our long planned target.
We crossed that part of desert where the ground goes below sea level, but when
the desert ended the visibility dropped back in haze and for us a big surprize,
as the mountains roze again in front of us requiring a climb to 7500 ft to be sure.
Below us it was really hazy, so we had to follow Highway 8 and use our GPS.
A call to Gillespie Field gave us a landing clearance and a quick decent to final.
After touchdown and taxiing to parking place near the tower, we were all very,
very satisfied and thankful to have completed this historic VFR-flight in about
20 flying hours. After ten minutes, my good friend Larry
Petersen, who had been monitoring our progress on the tower
frequency, arrived at the airfield to welcome us. This was a most
enjoyable moment for us as we had never actually met before only
communicating by phone and fax. So the owners of four Boelkow all met
together for the first time in California!
Larry drove us up to his home at El Cajon and we met his lovely wife Helen and
the real airman friendship of our week long
In the next few days, Larry tooks us four germans in his van and
showed us all the important places in and around San Diego.
Downtown, the Aerospace Museum, the airport Lindbergh Field, La
Jolla Beach, Hotel Coronado, the Balboa Park, El Cajon. A short
distance into the mountains we found Romana airfield, where we were
able to see the one and only historic, airworthy Piasecki H21 " Flying
Banana " In the nearby villiage of Julian we enjoy the very delicious
and well known APPLEPIE.
And of course we tasted the Steaks, the American Beer, Californian
wine, hot Mexican Food and we visited in Tijauana, Mexico, just
across the border. We have to thank Larry and Helen, for their
absolutely wonderful hospitality, thanks so much!
After such great hospitality and experiences, we had to leave the
westcoast and rotate the compass
onto an easterly heading for a few days. On the 23rd of September,
when early fog, later haze cleared we departed, but after only 25
minutes, in the mountains east of El Cajon, the cloud were on the
tops and we were forced to return to Gillespie. Next day, the haze
cleared by midday and we were able to depart CAVOK towards the east.
The planned route took us from Gillespie to Imperial (below sea
level) and on to Casa Grande via Tucson, (here we overfly thousands
of military jets, parked on in a large graveyard). At Cochise, Louise
& Jim Walden gave us the same excellent service as before and we
extend many thanks to them. That night we had a big thunderstorm, but
next day was CAVOK once more. We departed, again with the nose
towards the east, via Juarez Mexico and El Paso to West Texas. On
this field we met a German pilot with a Comanche and he flew in
formation with us for half an hour after take off. Our next fuelstop
was Fort Stockton and on to Gillespie in Texas where we stayed
overnight. On the the third day our target was Cleveland Tx, but by
afternoon we had reached Falls River, alongside the Mississippi, and
in the evening we arrived at Bay Minette in Alabama, to meet again
the chief of the airfield and owner of Clark Aviation, Mister Joe
Clark and his family. They provided much more than good service
giveing us hospitality like real friends. Joe Clark founded his
company more than 30 years ago, after a long career in the Air Force.
Initially he was a flight engineer logging some 29 thousand hours
before training as a pilot. However he only managed 12 thousand hours
in this capacity before retiring to survive 17 crashes as pilot on
agricultural spraying aircraft. A real aviation character who went
on to show us the first flight of a brand new agricultural aircraft
he had built from spare parts!
Next day CAVOK had deserted us!! Rain
and thunderstorms blocked our route to the east, so we reluctantly
decided to stay on the field and not risk a battle with the weather.
On the fifth day there was low cloud until afternoon and later big
CB´s with showers, but in the interval, we were able to reach
another airfield further east in visibility which seemed to reach the
North Pole!. After an hour, we landed at De Funiak Springs because a
big cb with heavy rain, reduced the visibility to almost nothing.
This was a great pity because we only had about an hour to run to the
homefield at Kitty Hawk, FL. However an hour later the big Cb had
moved on and VFR conditions where back. On arrival at Kitty Hawk, we
were able to do a really nice overshoot, so the flying community
turned out to welcome us and the BEER was very good !!
Now we had one last week to stay at Kitty Hawk in the home of Christine
& Wolfgang Schmelzer and to enjoy their fantastic
hospitality. Cool drinks every evening and sitting round the campfire
until well after midnight. We visited Live Oak, Lake City, walked along
the Suwannee River and flew in the Maule to Thomasville for a tour of
the Maule factory.
Late in the evening of 7th October, our scheduled flight leaves from
Jacksonville via Memphis and Schiphol back to Koeln-Bonn.
A historic adventure for a VFR pilot, wonderful friendship and more
made, lots of new aviation experiences and extra skills learnt.
Aviation in the USA is completely integrated in society and a vital
part of the nations livestyle and transportation system.
Europe has a long way to go to match this and the " EU "
hurries reverse what progress we have been able to make.
GUNTHER H. BUTTERWECK
The actual route:
St. Augustine Florida - Kitty Hawk Florida - Bay Minette Alabama - Eunice Luisiana -
Cleveland Texas, overnightstop
Cleveland Texas - Horseshoe Texas - Fort Stockton Texas, overnightstop
Fort Stockton Texas - West Texas Texas - Cochise Arizona, overnightstop
Cochise Arizona - Gila Bend Arizona (no fuel available ) - Yuma California - Gillespie
Field San Diego El Cajon California
The route back:
Gillespie Field El Cajon California - Imperial California - Casa Grande Arizona -
Cochise Arizona, overnightstop
Cochise Arizona - West Texas Texas - Fort Stockton Texas - Gillespie Texas, overnightstop
Gillespie Texas - Cleveland Texas - Falls River Mississippi - Bay Minette Alabama, overnightstop
stay on the ground, sunderstorms on the route
Bay Minette Alabama - De Funiak Springs Florida - Kitty Hawk Florida
The total distance is 3600 NM, flighttime 40 hours in 8 days
klick on the images to enlarge them
Gunther Butterweck was invited for a flight in a homebuild Bücker by flightinstructor
Larry Grondsky at Kitty Hawk FL
the two crews after touchdown at cochise airfield Arizona with the airfieldchief Jim Walden
Gunther after arrival the target Gillespie airfield El Cajon San Diego California the flighttime
20 houres in 4 days
one Boelkow and four proud Boelkow owners on the airfield where the designer Mister Bjoern
ANDREASSON made the first flight with his homebuildt BA 7 in 1958
Gunther with Joe Clark, owner of the Clark Aviation at Bay Minette Alabama after his first flight in
his new agricultural aircraft