"I wish I could grow wings", once wrote joseph victor von scheffel, the creator of the frankenlied. He described the everlasting dream of man to be able to fly like a bird.
An adventure playground
At the highest point of the rehberg, the platte, there was a launching site for gliders in the 1930s. Today everything is wooded, nothing reminds of the former adventure playground of the kulmbach youth.
At that time there was a coarser open space and a wide aisle in the forest in the direction of the kettle. There, the kulmbach regional air sports group taught how to handle aircraft. For young people growing up without smartphones, computers and televisions, this was a huge attraction.
Disassembled into individual parts
The weekends were very busy. It was very difficult to get the airplanes up to the launching site on the uneven and narrow paths. If the location permitted, the groups used cars with specially built trailers for this purpose.
On it they loaded the disassembled equipment. Once at the top, it didn’t take long for the skilled hands of the helpers to put everything back together again.
Down the slope on a rubber rope
On saturdays and sundays there were always four to five gliders in the sky. To this was added a coarser set of boys and youths needed to bring them into the air.
At the starting point there was an iron rail firmly anchored to the ground, which resembled a narrow slide. It served as a guide rail for the aircraft. Two long rubber ropes were attached to the front of the plane’s fuselage. While three or four boys held the glider by the tail unit at the back, five men ran down the slope on each rubber rope.
When the rubber ropes had the right tension, the boys could let go of the tail and the plane was thrown into the air as if by a catapult.
Cheers after every start
The pilot had to release the two ropes when they reached the right height, and the ground crew reeled them back in, but not without first cheering the successful takeoff and applauding the pilots. The latter were considered "heroes of the air", who dared to do something. "If you want to fly, you have to have the courage to leave the ground was the motto of the young glider pilots.
That such a flight was not only of short duration is proven by the reports of aviators like heinrich schauer and erich ludwig. Both set one record after the other. In april 1939, schauer succeeded in flying the longest distance from the rehberg plateau to chemnitz, 135 kilometers away. He reached a flight altitude of 1,800 meters and covered the distance in two hours and eleven minutes.
Schauer had borrowed a closed glider from his friends in bayreuth for this purpose. He set another record in may 1938, this time his flight lasted five hours and 18 minutes.
Hornschuch donates prize
The spinning mill director and privy councillor fritz hornschuch supported the glider pilots very much. He donated the geheimrat hornschuch prize for the longest flight that schauer could win. But his record lasted only two years. In 1940, erich ludwig stayed in the air for over eight hours and 30 minutes.
Depending on the wind, he landed on the meadows in kessel and near melkendorf or in the area where the real market is located today.
Heinrich schauer was a pioneer
Heinrich schauer, who died in 2001, ran an inn for many years at the schauer junction named after him. He was one of the pioneers of kulmbach gliding.
That the "leisure activity at the rehberg also fulfilled another purpose in the sense of national socialism, can be seen in the slogan: "was sind wir? Pimpfe! What we want to become? Soldiers!"
This is how it was through "youth duty by law, young people between the ages of ten and 18 had to do this two days a week. Through physical activity in the open air, the male youth was to be hardened and prepared for war service in the long term.
Many young people were then used as flak helpers during the war or in the last days of the war in the "volkssturm. And many of these young men have fallen. After the war, flight operations at the rehberg were discontinued. The glider pilots from kulmbach have moved together with their friends from gorauer anger to the sessenreuther berg near wirsberg.
A plaque on the rehberg nature trail still reminds us of the place where the launch site once stood.