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Hot Air Balloons!

If you have ever been to Dr. Ursula Eckert-Peterson's office you know the lobby is decorated with Hot Air Balloons. Her father, Alfred Eckert was an accomplished Balloonist. He also owned a Balloon Museum in Augsburg, Germany. The following was written when Ursula's father was Inducted into the CIA Balloon and Airship Hall of Fame in 1999:

Lausanne - 7 June 1999



The following have been inducted into the CIA Balloon and Airship Hall of Fame.

Mr. Alfred ECKERT

Alfred Eckert has been a prominent German gas balloonist since 1953 and is known for his colourful personality and his high quality collection of ballooning antiques and memorabilia as well as for his flying exploits.

Born in 1916, Mr. Eckert spent his earlier years as a painter, photographer, publisher and graphic designer in Augsburg, Germany. He made his first balloon flight in May of 1953 and earned his gas balloon license in May of 1955 (he got his hot air balloon license in 1983).

He earned the German Free Balloon Golden Achievement Medal no. 11 in 1957 and the FAI Montgolfier Diploma for the year 1959.

Some remarkable flights of his were:

1959: Landed on a glacier and was rescued by aircraft.

1960: Crossed the English Channel from Lydd, UK to Brá gge, Belgium in 4 hours, 15 minutes.

1990: Made his 1000th gas balloon flight on October 27, 1990. Total of 3590 hours & 55,198 km.

1998: Made his 1020th gas balloon flight together with Jojo Maes (1213) and Helma Sjuts (1118).

Mr. Eckert also created the famous Balloon Museum in Gersthofen, Germany (just north of Augsburg and close to the club launch site). The majority of the exhibits are from his personal collection. The museum opened in 1986.  As an author, Mr. Eckert has written six books on ballooning and has been the publisher and editor of the bi-monthly magazine "Der Freiballon" since 1976. His books are:

    * Am Himmel Ohne Motor (To the Heavens Without Engine), 1975
    * Ballon Museum Gersthofen, 1985
    * Im Blauen Wind (In the Blue Wind), 1987
    * Im Ballon, 1987
    * 1000 mal voll Gas am Himmel (1000 Times To Heaven Full Of Gas), 1990
   * Mit dem Malblock um die Welt (Around the World With Paint-box), Exhibition catalogue 1991

The above information is from the fai.org website.

More Articles about or mention Alfred Eckert

Remembering Special Friendships The Gordon Bennett Cup, September 1990

This impromptu reunion resulted in a very special visit to the Balloon Museum, located just to the north of Augsburg. The well known German balloonist, Herr Alfred Eckert, gave us a personal tour of his museum and a special welcome. We gathered on the top floor of the museum for a celebration and champagne toast to our safe landings in Italy.

This was a perfect ending to our introduction to the most remarkable gas balloon race, the Gordon Bennett Cup. I was glad to have shared this experience with beautiful people, the pilots and crew of the Alan Fraenckel and John Stuart-Jervis balloon team.

The above information is found on this article at the www.balloonlife.com

Museums with a Difference: A Goofy World of Offbeat Collections By Robert Thornhill

Human beings have dreamed of flying at least since the days of Greek mythology, and it was Greek mathematician and physicist Archimedes who discovered the principle of the upthrust on a floating body, which made the first attempts at flying possible—with a hot air or gas-filled balloon. The first to succeed were brothers Etienne and Joseph Montgolfier in 1783. Three years later, German Baron von Lütgendorf tried to fly in a balloon out of Augsburg, but failed because of stormy weather and technical problems. Angry burghers chased him out of town, and he made his next attempts in the nearby village of Gersthofen. In the 210 years since then, Gersthofen has developed into Germany's most important ballooning center, especially due to the efforts of Alfred Eckert, Germany's leading balloonist.

Eckert persuaded town fathers to let him have an abandoned five-story water tower, and he turned it into the Gersthofen Ballonmuseum, which exhibits more than 1,000 objects and models dealing with the history and technology of ballooning. One of the treasure pieces is the replica of a homemade hot air balloon that two East German families used in 1979 to escape the German Democratic Republic.

The Above quote is from GermanLife.com


Ballooning in the Federal Republic of Germany was permitted again by the allies in 1951. Old Gordon Bennett competitor Ferdinand Eimermacher, had set up the roots for it by flying with Dutch Jan Boesman on October 29th, 1950. The permission of course contained restrictions: No flights at night, no flights across the borders. But at least, it was allowed to fly. When the restrictions fell in 1957, soon glamorous flights happened. Dr. Ernst Frank (son of Gordon Bennett competitor of 1936) flew with his brother-in-law, Fritz Braun in 12:17 hours 835 kilometres from Augsburg to the coast of the Atlantic on January 18th, 1957. He was followed by Bruno Potthast and Alfred Eckert with 15:34 hours and 984 kilometres on May 26th, 1957. They also managed the first traversing of the Alps on November 30th, 1957. Rudi Reilich and Werner Riedel flew 24:01 hours from Augsburg to Kiel in 1969, Heinz Brachtendorf and Helmut Karnstädt managed another traversing of the Alps from Marl in Westphalia and Willi Eimers flew a balloon to Norway. But all of this had been single achievements, not done in a competition. A competition is something completely different. In a competition, it is important, for all those involved to fly at the same time and in the same conditions. If then a flight of more than 1000 kilometres comes out, it’s good. But for a winner in a competition, the longest flight is important, even if it is just 100 meters longer than the flights of the others. So Gordon Bennett seemed not to be achievable, the pilots met to hold European and World Championships. But it proved, that the kinds of competition, taken from hot air ballooning, were not perfect for gas balloons. Flying to a target, 30 to 70 kilometres away, was in no relation to the work and expenses for an inflation.

The above information is from an article by www.ballooning.nu.

The Who's Who of Ballooning

ECKERT, Alfred            GERMANY            (1916-1996)            (GB/HB)
See APPENDIX-BE/BF/BM.            Sport balloonist.
b: 18 May 1916 Augsburg.
d: 18 May 1996 Augsburg.
e: 14 years Public Schools.
s: German Army, one year.
p: Lithograph maker.
m: Augsburg Freiballoon Club.
f: First B-Flight 1953; First B-Solo 1953 from Augsburg; German B-License # 2745 BYLAS issued 29 Dec.1956; Over 4000 B-Hours (883 gas, +14 hot-air starts) by August 1983.
l: 1956, Crossed Alps from Augsburg to Genoa, Italy; 1958, Made his first night flight; 1960, First crossed the Alps from Murren (many times thereafter); 1975, Author of book "Am Himmel Ohne Motor"; 1976, Editor of Balloon Magazine "Der Freiballon" (see U.HOHMANN & W.MULLER); 20 year member of the German B-Commission; Founder of Gersthofen B-Museum (Augsburg); 1979, Author of book "In Blauen Wind"; 1985, Founder of Gersthofen Aeronautical Museum (open Nov.1985);
h: Montgolfier Diploma, FAI-1960; German Golden Daedalus Medal; Honorary Member "Lighter-Than-Air-Society"; 20-time Premier National and International "Wessfahtern." ***Epic flight; Crossed the English Channel by balloon (Ref. book AmHimmel page 54).
a: Drentwettstrasse 3; D-8900 Augsburg.
r: Bio-data Aug.1985; BallonSport M/J-96p25.

This information comes from www.ballooninghistory.com

"The Explorers" Over the Alps by Balloon (1972) / Alfred Eckert     ....     producer

In Blauen Wind: Gluck U. Abenteuer Im Ballon

An archive of a flight magazine 1968 www.flightglobal.com - the pdf of the page Alfred Eckert is mentioned on you may download here.

1/28/2009 Alfred Eckert (1916-2009). Ein Nachruf. mehr An obituary

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