It will be 100 years to the day on thursday. At 17. October 1913 a military plane crashed near kirchlauter and both pilots lost their lives.
In the meantime, the event has been largely researched, female district curator of local history gunter lipp. The preubische oberleutnant friedrich koch (29) and unteroffizier (sergeant) johannes mante (28) were with their two-seat biplane on a night cross-country flight from berlin to darmstadt in the province hessen-nassau.
The starting point was initially described in the newspaper reports of the time as a "niedermeierndorf" and then a "niederneuendorf stated. Both should be located on the havel. In fact, as oskar gehring discovered, the aircraft construction department of the general electricitatsgesellschaft had set up a factory airfield for its military aircraft in nieder-neundorf near henningsdorf, on the northwestern edge of berlin, in 1910.
From here, the two pilots had to leave at night around 0.50 o'clock. They were probably blown off course by northwest winds and ended up over coburg and the habberge mountains.
Glowing pipes above ebern
Over ebern the engine of the biplane is said to have failed. The exhaust pipes glowed red after observation. Pilot mante attempted an emergency landing on the gently rising "muhlleite" south of kirchlauter, but the low flying machine got stuck in the darkness on high plum trees, overturned and buried both pilots under itself. They must have died instantly. The bamberger tagblatt of 18. October 1913 reported:"… The engine was found intact, as a surveyor stated."
What the actual cause of the crash was is not clear. There are three possibilities: firstly, sergeant mante, who had acquired his 451 pilot's license three months earlier, may have been overmudded after the five-hour night flight; secondly, the 90 hp engine may have failed; and thirdly, the light biplane may have hit an air pocket over the woods of the habberge and sank down.
Sympathy in kirchlauter
In the bamberger tagblatt it continued: "the two dead pilots were taken to the church of kirchlauter and laid out. Sympathetic villagers have covered the two airmen, who met a year's end far from their home, with flowers and wreaths. This morning some officers arrived from berlin and darmstadt, who will make arrangements about the transfer of the bodies. It is expected that the two dead will be transported to their home country."
The accident caused quite a commotion in the region at that time. Numerous reporters arrived. Among others, the pharmacist franz gros from ebern took pictures of the wreckage of the plane.
Souvenir in the attic
Of these pictures there were only copies so far. Now the originals have reappeared in an old album and have been secured by steffen schanz. In the two-volume "rough book of german aviation history by diplom-ingenieur peter supf the airplane of koch and mante is pictured. It is an AEG mars biplane of steel tube design. Their remains were taken away at that time.
Recently, however, a small piece of sheet metal was found in the attic of albert guthlein in reckendorf. Probably his father or his grandfather, who lived in breitbrunn, dismantled it from the ill-fated aircraft. It is a piece of corrugated aluminum, about the size of a towel, that was cut out of the side panel of the fuselage. It weighed a whole 15 grams. The aircraft was therefore deliberately built to be lightweight. Albert guthlein has now donated the plate to the heimatmuseum ebern. There it will be shown in the near future together with old newspaper clippings and the photos of franz gros.
Today a monolith from the year 1914 at the state road to goggelgereuth reminds of the accident. Its inscription was reconstructed a few years ago and mounted on a stainless steel plaque on the south side of the building.
The stone itself was slightly moved during the construction of the trench around 1978. Up to now, no picture of the original site has been found, although people liked to take pictures in front of it at the time. So actually in family albums still a picture must have been preserved.
Restored in 2006
Ludwig Leisentritt from zeil informed that the spouses stoffler have committed themselves in june 1914 notarially to take care of the monument in the future. Its official inauguration was postponed until the 1st of december, due to the beginning of the first world war. September 1919 completed. The community under the then mayor peter kirchner had the registered monument renovated in 2006. Now it is back in verhaltnismabig good condition.
On thursday, exactly 100 years after the accident, members of the ebern aviation club will lay a bouquet of flowers at 5 p.M. At the aviation stone near kirchlauter in memory of the two aviation pioneers who died in the accident.
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