SBS aired a documentary tonight on a woman who must rank among the world’s most extraordinary pilots.
Best known as an ardent supporter of Hitler, her contributions to aviation have been overshadowed.
Hanna was flew the world’s first helicopter – indoors, before a crowd of thousands. She was the first rocket pilot. She flew a glider over the Alps not once but many times and at the age of 65 did it again, adding another world record to her formidable tally in the process. She flew a Storch into beleaguered Berlin, landed near the Brandenburg Gate and visited Hitler in his bunker.
The well-made documentary Hitler’s Heroes Episode Two has quite a lot of interesting historical gliding footage.
Here is a six minute clip:
Many years ago I read a biography on Hanna Reitch ( like about 50), a good read, so there is plenty of information about her.
An interesting insight into her life and its end is to be found in the book by ‘winkle’ Brown, “Wings on My Sleeve” which has recently been republished by orion books. This german speaking british test pilot writes of her death, probably by cyanide, on page 120. He knew Hanna before and after the war and was in awe of her skills.
To be a fanatical Nazi at the end of WW2 was not the place to be.