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 5 of 6)
Angerer was single-handedly responsible for getting the Flying Bulls its Alpha Jet fleet. Recalling his first attempts to purchase the aircraft, he says: "It was a dream of mine, but the German military didn't sell to private people."
The Alpha Jet was designed by Dassault and Dornier in the 1970s as a dual-purpose trainer and light attack jet. In the early '90s, the German Luftwaffe decided to retire its Alpha Jets. Before they were auctioned off, their wing spars were cut so the military jets couldn't be used privately. Angerer purchased two anyway, and those are used for exhibit and replacement parts. In 2001, an opportunity arose for Flying Bulls to acquire two Alpha Jets (this time in flight-ready condition) directly from their manufacturer.
The Flying Bulls restored the Alpha Jets, making them the first of their type to be demilitarized and licensed for civilian use. They were put into operation flying around Europe. A couple of years later, the Flying Bulls bought their third Alpha Jet.
The hangar is a busy place, but also noticeably, and almost shockingly, clean. In the engine shop, each tool is lined up perfectly in size order, beneath an engine there's a drip pan without a drop of oil in it, and the engine itself (which is supposedly in need of an overhaul) is as clean as a mirror. "It's an Austrian thing," says Gerd Strobl. "We're sort of anal."
"Operating old planes-you have to have a certain sensitivity for them," says Muigg. "The older aircraft need tender loving care. Scheduled maintenance is only ten percent of your work. Ninety percent is just constant care.... You have to keep an eye on everything. You can't assume you can only go by the manufacturer's inspection schedule."
Muigg is a perfectionist-in a video of the DC-6 restoration, he goes over every inch of the aircraft's
stripped interior with a flashlight and a dentist's mirror. He's Austrian.
Later, the DC-6 is prepped for a flight. As the crew revs up the engines, each Pratt & Whitney R-2800 coughing, sputtering, and then roaring to life, Muigg does a complete walk-around of the aircraft. He stops periodically to shout something up to the copilot, or to indicate to one of the maintenance team that something needs checking. In one particularly terrifying moment, Muigg directs a crew member behind one of the enormous props to monitor a potential oil leak. The man climbs a ladder placed directly beneath the cowling, the blades spinning inches from his head. He gives the thumbs-up first to Lee and then to Muigg, climbs down nonchalantly, and folds up his ladder. We're cleared for takeoff.