(with emphasis on aviation-related things)
I was born on July 29, 1970 in Saarbrücken, Germany as the first child of a family not at all related to aviation. My family - my father, my mother, my sister and me - moved into the newly built house in Heusweiler/Niedersalbach in 1975. Already as a young child I liked drawing and building things. Starting with Lego and various wood kits I first gravitated towards things flying when I started building plastic model kits. Soon thereafter I discovered remote control aircraft modeling and joined a club in Püttlingen/Saarland, the MFC Saar-West e. V. Due to the distance between my home and the club's flying field I did spent very little time flying, aggravated by the fact that I had started with flying model gliders which do not have a very long flying time - unless you know how to take advantage of thermals (which I didn't). So I spent most of my time building models instead of flying them. Apart from building model airplanes, I started reading every book and magazine about aviation I could get my hands on and developed a special interest in aviation history.
After my mandatory military service time which I spent in the German Air Force as a teletype operator at JaboG 35 in Sobernheim/Rheinland-Pfalz, I started studying aerospace engineering at the University of Stuttgart during the fall of 1990. Even before the first semester started, I joined an R/C aircraft modeling club at the university, the Akamodell Stuttgart e. V., where I spent most of my free time during the next four semesters and got to know quite a few nice people.
The final change of interest from model aviation towards flying myself and aviation on the bigger scale came when I got the opportunity to work for six months at Avtek Corporation in Camarillo, California, thanks to their Director of Marketing, Robert D. Honeycutt. The company under the leadership of Robert Adickes was trying to design, certify and produce a 6-seat twin-turboprop canard business aircraft, and I had the possibility to do some very interesting work on this aircraft called Avtek 400 under the guidance of their chief engineer Niels Anderson.
Living in Camarillo in Southern California, it was almost impossible to evade the many things related to aviation in the area, especially the airports at Camarillo, Santa Paula and Oxnard and the Navy Base in Point Mugu. Having already decided before my arrival in the U.S. that I would want to learn flying, I found a very capable instructor in the person of Lisa Breuer, the daugther of Avtek's boss Robert Adickes. Apart from some initial problems with radio communication, my flight training was a lot of fun and went smoothly. After soloing on December 31, 1992, I made some interesting flights during my cross country instruction. I took my checkride in early May 1993 with Gene Beliveau at Santa Paula (SZP) and got my license after about 67 flying hours.
After only a few more flights my time in the U.S. came to an end and I had to return to Germany. Returning to my studies at Stuttgart and the almost invisible aviation scene in Germany when compared to Southern California caused a more than one-year lapse in my flying, which only resumed after I joined a flying club near Wustweiler/Saarland. First getting instructed in motorgliders, I later also got my German PPL after a second visit to the U.S. in 1995. Thereafter I spent quite a few hours towing gliders in the club's Husky D-ECOA. During all this time, I was also very interested in the maintenance part of aviation and took some courses offered by the Aero-Club of the state of Saarland (AeCS) and took part in the maintenance of the club's aircraft and the restauration of two motorgliders and the partial restoration of a K8 steel tube, wood and fabric glider.
I did my study thesis at the Institute for Aircraft Construction and Design under the supervision of Dipl.-Ing. Michael Dugas and the help of Mr. Bartsch of the OUV, the German Amateur Builders Association. My work dealt with aerodynamics, strength calculations, weight considerations and the certification process for an amateur built aircraft (Wittman Tailwind W-10) which is being built by Wilhelm Wüst in Göppingen. Thereafter, I prepared my diploma thesis at the Institute for Aerodynamics and Gas Dynamics. This more theoretical work centered around the aerodynamic panel code ROVLM developed at the institute by Dr. Lorenz Zerle during the course of his PhD work. My work, which was supervised by Dr. Thorsten Lutz, was mainly concerned with the program's extension to fixed-wing calculation capabilities, its documentation and conversion to Fortran 90. After finishing my studies and graduating in September of 1998, I had hoped to find a job at a smaller company designing and building general aviation aircraft. Despite things looked promising at first, my signed contract never really got off to a start and I had to look for something else. An opportunity to work at the Institute for Aerodynamics and Gas Dynamics at the University of Stuttgart opened up in late 1998, and after helping to write a DFG proposal I could start working on the approved project in September 1999, mainly thanks to the support of Dr. Thorsten Lutz and Prof. Dr.-Ing. S. Wagner.
After my graduation I had hoped that time for my private flying would increase a bit again, but some unpleasant circumstances at the flying club in Wustweiler caused me to essentially leave the club. Now, a year later I have somehow managed to obtain my own little plane and hope to increase my flying activities in the future again. I am also very interested in all things related to aviation and the homebuilt movement and will try to support Mr. Wilhelm Wüst with the theoretical part of getting the special airworthiness certificate for his Tailwind once it is completed. Not having abandoned R/C aircraft modeling completely, I am still involved with the Akamodell Stuttgart e. V. and do the maintenance on the club's web pages.