What is your role at the Messerschmitt Museum of Flight? Put simply, I guide visitors around the museum and make sure that they enjoy their visit. In more complex terms, I am responsible for the overall organizational processing of visitors – these can be individuals, groups of aviation enthusiasts, conference participants or VIPs. You could describe me as the Museum’s ambassador. // What brought you to the Messerschmitt Museum of Flight? I think my 40 years of experience in the maintenance and assembly of military aircraft certainly helped. I also know a great deal about the history of this site in Manching. The directors of the Museum obviously appreciated this in-depth know-how. After all, I have been looking after visitors at the Messerschmitt Museum of Flight since 2007 – and it is something that I love doing. // What do you like about working at the Messerschmitt Museum of Flight? First and foremost, it’s the remarkable team spirit that you find in this industry. Then of course there is this special “aura” that you can really feel when you combine today’s technology with machines from the beginnings of aviation history. I am a naturally curious person and am keen to understand the pioneering spirit of that time. So it is really something special for me to be part of the Messerschmitt Museum of Flight. // What do you think about the engineering feats of the period from the 1920s to the 1950s? It is like a journey of discovery. We are continually confronted with technical details that underscore just how ingenious the engineers of that time were. At moments like that, you really appreciate the pioneers of aviation. The DB engine from the 600 series is a particularly impressive example of this, as are the sophisticated aerodynamic features such as fore flaps and propeller control systems of the time. // How does working with the technology of aircraft at the Messerschmitt Museum compare with today’s modern machines? The way technicians work on the different machines is defined by the technology available at the respective periods of time, based on the designs and lifetime expectations in the 1930s versus today. As a result, there is a lot more manual work involved with traditional aircraft. Assembling structural elements and equipment and adjusting settings during tests are all manual tasks. The level of automation in functional tests is a lot lower due to the production resources and methods used at the time. When it comes to assembly, I would estimate that only 75 percent of tasks were partially automated. Nowadays, the work environment is shaped by advances in materials, production and test processes, increased digitalization across production technologies and fully automated, complex monitoring and test procedures. These trends mean that the ratio between assembly and automation has shifted to around 20% to 80%, accompanied by a drive for perfection in automation. // What details are most important to you as a guide for historical aircraft? I believe we should really bring to life the period when aircraft designers were shaping the history of aviation. In our case – as the name suggests – we focus on the achievements of Willy Messerschmitt. I want visitors to understand the traditional mindset that underpins the entire company and the importance of the Messerschmitt Foundation’s collaboration with the Airbus Group. And of course we want to showcase the full range of Willy Messerschmitt’s achievements. Of the 45,000 aircraft built, there are only eight airworthy examples in existence today. This means that we have something truly unique to offer. It also adds a special quality to each exhibit. We provide information on series production and the history of the exhibits as well as technical and operational data and particular design highlights. I always talk about our highly qualified repair and maintenance crew. Our team has in-depth knowledge of the methods of the time and today’s quality standards. I also like to inform visitors of the air shows that we participate in. // What questions are you often asked? Specific questions about technology, in particular about the DB 605 engine. “Can I take a picture of someone in the cockpit?” “When can we see the aircraft in flight?” “Have you got any literature about Willy Messerschmitt?” “Do you have a website?” “Why are visiting times limited?” // Is there any documentation left relating the technology of these “old” machines and how to fly them? Maintenance and flight manuals are readily available. I believe it is more difficult to get hold of sets of drawings. // How many visitors do you show around the Museum each year? Around 4,000 visitors. // Are visitors allowed to take photographs in the museum? Yes. But only for private use. They require a special permit for commercial purposes.
Thank you for talking to us! The interview was carried out by Volker Radon.
Messerschmitt Museum of Flight