G.H. Butterweck



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


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 :
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 oilwells. "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 stay.
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.


Member of
DAEC Germany
PFA England
The actual route:
14. September
St. Augustine Florida - Kitty Hawk Florida - Bay Minette Alabama - Eunice Luisiana - Cleveland Texas, overnightstop
15. September
Cleveland Texas - Horseshoe Texas - Fort Stockton Texas, overnightstop
16. September
Fort Stockton Texas - West Texas Texas - Cochise Arizona, overnightstop
17. September
Cochise Arizona - Gila Bend Arizona (no fuel available ) - Yuma California - Gillespie Field San Diego El Cajon California
The route back:
24. September
Gillespie Field El Cajon California - Imperial California - Casa Grande Arizona - Cochise Arizona, overnightstop
25. September
Cochise Arizona - West Texas Texas - Fort Stockton Texas - Gillespie Texas, overnightstop
26. September
Gillespie Texas - Cleveland Texas - Falls River Mississippi - Bay Minette Alabama, overnightstop
27. September
stay on the ground, sunderstorms on the route
28. September
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