Seaplane flying in Flensburg

Since 2015 „Baltic-Seaplane“ operates a Cessna 172 on amphibious floats on the Flensburg Fjord and continues a tradition which started in 1917 in Fahrensodde – seaplane operataion and seaplane training.

In 1917 a seaplane base was established and a training facility for Pilots, observers and aerial gunners. The city of Flensburg provided the required estates and handed them over to the “Kaiserliche Marine” for free. The famous aircraft engineer Claude Dornier recommended this location to the Navy because of the ideal wind and weather conditions on the fjord. Here the training for future seaplane pilots could and can take place under almost weather conditions. The construction of a huge 7500 square feet hangar for storage, maintenance and repair was started. All personal lived on an accommodation ship – the “Herta”.This ship could accommodate up to 500 men, indicating that several thousand men were trained here. The number of personal needed was very high due to the ongoing WW 1. Aircraft for training were mainly single engine biplanes – “Gotha WD 7”. Up to 14 aircraft were bases in Fahrensodde. Until the end of WW 1 the seaplane base was enlarged continuously. In addition to the main hangar three buildings were erected as living quarters, ramps for the seaplanes were build (ruins can still be seen today), a pier was constructed including a crane to lift the aircraft ashore and a fence provided some security for the whole area.

 

At the end of WW 1 the flying operation seized due to the contact of Versailles and most of the buildings were destroyed. Only the maintenance shop, some parts of the former living quarters and some ruins of the apron and ramps are visible today.

About 1930 aviation was permitted again including seaplane flying. The huge “Do X” visited the Flensburg Fjord. As can be seen in old photographs a wide variety of seaplanes and flying boats operated on the Flensburg Fjord; “Dornier Wal”, “Heinkel 115” just to name a few. The Lufthansa flight school for seaplanes located in List / Sylt on the west coast often used the Fjord for training due to the ideal conditions here. In addition to the Lufthansa aircraft more and more military aircraft from the newly established “German Luftwaffe” used these waters to train pilots and crew.

 

On 18th August 1930 Wolfgang von Gronau, an instructor at the Lufthansa training school in List / Sylt took off from Sylt in an open cockpit “Dornier Wal” to reach New York after a total of 47 flight hours with stop overs in Iceland, Greenland and new Foundland. In 1932 he took off from Sylt again to circumnavigate the world and return to List / Sylt after having covered 44.000 km; again in a “Dornier Wal”.

After the political takeover of the “Nazi  Party” seaplane flying in Schleswig – Holstein expanded rapidly. Sea bases were established in Heiligenhafen, Schleswig and also on the Flensburg Fjord. The sea base in Fahrensodde however was not reactivated. The Fjord was used as an ideal training area for all types of seaplanes and flying boats, e.g. “Dornier 24”, “Dornier 26”, “Heinkel 115”,… Even after the end of WW 2 “Dornier 24” flying boats flew from Schleswig to Pomerania to evacuate refugees - with former German crews and accepted by the British authorities.

After the end of WW 2 all flying within Germany was forbidden; only the Allies were allowed to operate aircraft. All airports including sea bases were closed. Only after 1956 some airfields opened up again one after the other; international airports like Hamburg, Hannover, Frankfurt and Munich were operational all the time and were used frequently by allied airlines.

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