Didi & Sigi's Excellent Collection
How do you align your brand with energy, superiority, and effervescence? Build the best private airplane collection in Europe and the most sophisticated museum to show it off.
- By Bettina H. Chavanne
- Air & Space magazine, March 2006
(Page 3 of 6)
Last summer the hangar featured the work of consumers from around the world who had been invited to create sculptures out of Red Bull cans. Admission to the Red Bull museum in Hangar-7, which features a rotating exhibit of aircraft and art, is free.
Hangar-8, on the other hand, is the boisterous sibling, and is closed to the public. Jokes fly, props spin, and guests arrive piloting their own warbirds. And, of course, everyone is pounding Red Bull like it's water. Coolers filled with the stuff are all over the place.
Today, the Flying Bulls' ever-growing collection comprises a North American T-28B Trojan, a North American B-25J Mitchell, a Cessna C208 Amphibian Caravan, a Vought F4U-4 Corsair, five Fairchild-Dornier Alpha Jets, a Pilatus Turbo Porter PC-6/B2-H4, and a Pitts S2B.
There are also a couple of helicopters (including a decommissioned Bell AH-1Z Cobra), race pilot Lefty Gardner's old Lockheed P-38 Lightning-currently being refurbished in Texas-and a Fairchild PT-19 and Boeing Stearman being refurbished in Hangar-8.
But the Douglas DC-6B is the centerpiece of the collection, not so much because of its size as because of the effort it took to get it into the near-perfect condition it's in today. The airplane has an interesting provenance: It was the second to last one off the production line in 1958, and it was delivered-along with its sister aircraft, the last DC-6 ever produced-to the national Yugoslavian airline, JAT.
Head of state Marshal Josip Tito had other plans, however, and converted them both into luxurious private transports for his own use. In 1975, Tito sold the DC-6s to the Zambian air force, which stored them at a remote airport for about 12 years, then used them to fly sightseers over west Africa until 1999.
In March 2000, Angerer read in an airline magazine that the aircraft were for sale, and he and Harald Reiter, the Flying Bulls' general manager, set out to buy one. They chose the penultimate one off the production line, and on July 7, 2000, they ferried their new DC-6 home, a trip that took them 26 hours.
"We didn't have a hangar yet, so we started to disassemble the airplane outside in the field, in the grass," says Thomas Muigg, now Flying Bulls' maintenance and technical manager as well as the DC-6's flight engineer. In 2000 he was hired to head up the restoration. The maintenance team ended up replacing 78 percent of the aircraft's structure. The airframe had only 6,000 hours, but was plagued with corrosion. In addition, as team members started to take apart the inner walls of the aircraft, they discovered hundreds of African wasps' nests. The entire restoration took about 30 men four years.