Actualités & Presse
FOCKE-WULF FOR OUR SKIES
When a 40-foot container was unpacked at Wanaka Airport before Christmas, the first Focke-Wulf 190D-9 ever to be seen in New Zealand emerged. It is owned by Swiss Gilles Kupfer who is reassembling it and hopes to be flying it later in January.
"It has taken me five years and 14,000 hours to build. It has been my labour of love," he says. Using mostly wood, the 190D-9 has been meticulously designed and built as an 80% scale replica. Gilles explains, "It is much cheaper to build a smaller plane, but it has been built to perfect scale."
Gilles has flown the plane once in Switzterland, but since meeting highly experienced warbirds pilot John Lamont at a Swiss air show in 1998, it has been his dream to bring his plane to Wanaka.
However, before it can be flown here, the Focke-Wulf will have to be tested to make sure it complies with New Zealand aviation regulations and Gilles, who holds a Swiss pilot's licence, will have to pass his NZ licence. So it will be early in 2009 before locals will have the chance to see the Focke-Wulf, with its distinctive green colouring and German insigna, in the skies over Wanaka.
The Focke-Wulf was the German answer to the Spitfire in air-to-air combat in World War II, and when the first model appeared in 1941, it was a very real threat with its superior speed and manoeuverability. The higher performing 190-D was first produced in 1943 and was known as the long-nosed version. It had a cruise speed of 600 kmph and, in high speed dives, could reach 900 kmph.
At the end of World War II, most German planes were destroyed, which explains why there are only about ten original Focke-Wulfs in museums in Europe and the USA today, and only one, a replica plane in Germany, is actually flying.
(The picture shows the Focke-Wulf's owner Gilles Kupfer (left) in front of his plane with warbirds pilot John Lamont.)