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 4 of 6)
A few months prior to the DC-6 project's completion, a Flying Bulls crew was sent to Alaska to check out Northern Air Cargo, the operator of the world's largest DC-6 fleet and home to a huge training and simulator facility.
"Word trickled down to me about the restoration they'd done on the aircraft and the fact that a green crew was going to fly the airplane on its certification flight," says Doug Lee, a DC-6 pilot of 52 years, then with Northern Air Cargo. "I told them they needed someone with experience to fly the plane, and I offered to do the certification flights for them." Angerer agreed, inviting Lee to Salzburg to helm the DC-6 as chief pilot and to make the certification flights. Lee is now a permanent fixture at Flying Bulls.
Nearly every aircraft in the collection has its own interesting history-and maintenance peculiarities. A specialist is assigned to each airplane. On aircraft like the B-25 and the DC-6, one flight hour equals about 50 maintenance hours. Although parts can be found relatively easily and cheaply, it's hard to predict what condition they'll be in when they arrive. Recent parts purchased from the military are usually in pretty good shape, but often parts require intensive and time-consuming labor to get them in working order.
The facilities at Hangar-8 are approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (the equivalent of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration).
"With the DC-6 project, we learned we had to do everything in-house," says Muigg. "We couldn't rely on other maintenance facilities. No one [we talked to about restoration] wanted to take the risk of restoring an old airplane."
There's also a complex hierarchy involved in keeping so many pilots current on so many different airplanes. "Every airplane has one pilot assigned to take care of it," Angerer explains. "They fly that aircraft mostly, but they are also current in at least two kinds of airplanes. The rule is, you can fly your airplane once every two weeks without asking."
Angerer maintains a grueling work schedule. "This company started with just a few planes, [so I did] lots of flying, not much work," he says. "Now, with 22 planes, [I do] a little less flying and much more work."
Of the more than 70 types of aircraft Angerer has flown in his career, he has several favorites: He especially likes his Piper Cub, in which he taught Mateschitz how to fly. "For fun, it's the Alpha Jet," he adds. "For serious flying, the [Falcon] 900."