23rd Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett

Warsaw, Poland, September 16, 1935


1Zbigniew Burzynski
Wladyslaw Wysocki
POL1650.47 km57:54:00Tiszkino, Stalingrad (RUS)
2Antoni Janusz
POL1567.13 km46:52:00Nosowka (POL)
3Ernest Demuyter
Pierre Hoffmans
BEL1455.63 km47:44:00Nizjni Dudarew (RUS)
4Carl Götze
Werner Lohmann
GER1373.68 km43:58:00Wieleka Jekatjerinowska
5Franciszek Hynek
Wladyslaw Pomaski
POL1306.47 km48:01:00Nowo Belaja (RUS)
6Maurice ten Bosch
van Tijen
NED1017.81 km40:10:00Szlina
7Charles Dollfus
P. Jacquet
FRA758.10 km25:11:00Wierkjejowska
8Albert Boitard
Georges Cormier
FRA731.31 km28:21:00Dubrowka (RUS)
9Philippe Quersin
Martial van Schelle
BEL672.80 km23:32:00Mokryje Wieliczka (POL)
10E. Tilgenkamp
Fr. Michel
SUI582.47 km27:37:00Lotwa-Slejas (LTU)
11Otto Bertram
Wilhelm Prehm
GER569.50 km23:10:00Dulebna (BLR)
12Eugen Stüber
Werner Schäfer
GER550.53 km19:52:00Lotwa-Kemmern (POL)
13 Tyler
USA534.96 km15:57:00Griszy-Zosincy, Minsk (RUS)

Book Article

From the Book: Die Gordon Bennett Ballon Rennen 
(The Gordon Bennett Races) by Ulrich Hohmann Sr

Start: Warzaw, September 15th at 4 p.m.

At the end of the chapter about the 1934 race balloon captain (which was in fact his official title) excused the bad performance of the German competitors. 1935 . should become better, so rules for the selection of the competitors were set up. At the end of . 1934 Raven writes:

Intentionally we had sent only young post war pilots to the 1934 race. We may not always fall back on our "old cannons", for their great successes, making them well known, was also achieved in their younger years. In 1935 again the young pilot shall be preferred, but this time he must do more training, and prepare himself better for the flight. The Polish have earned the victory in 1934, but they have worked hard for it, a whole year long, every week one or two flights, the best supplies have been tested. That is the problematic point at our competitors.

Unfortunately, we must admit, that in the past, German competitors were nominated much too late, not more than one or two month before the race. There have been qualification flights or other reasons for the selection. The two pilots, selected for each balloon, could not prepare to fly together. 1935 will be different, at least by the end of February the competitors shall be known. What are the rules for this selection?

Generally, only one pilot will be appointed for each balloon. He may choose his own co-pilot, for he has to be able to work together with him in harmony, must rely on him in difficult hours, must face every danger together with him, and both of them may have only one aim in their souls: To win, to win, and to win again..

Because we will enter the race again with three balloons, three pilots have to be appointed. The High Commission of the German Air Sport Association is in charge for the nomination, guided by the following rules:

  • The pilot of the first balloon will be the one, who had the best result of the three German balloons in 1934. Somehow he had won in a qualification flight among the three best German pilots. Also he had collected experience in this flight, and had achieved some good results, even if they are small.
  • The pilot of the second balloon will be selected by a qualification-flight. On February 17th, 1935 this race will take place, thanks to a friendly private donation this race will be at low costs, entry fee will be paid back, gas will be free. All applicants for the Gordon Bennett Race shall compete in this race. The winner will become a competitor at the Gordon Bennett Race, he will not only receive a supplement of 2000 to 2500 Reichmarks for the race but also have a new racing balloon to his disposal, which he shall use for no charge at the Gordon Bennett Race.
  • As pilot of the third balloon the High Commission of the German Airsport Association will select a person, they consider the right pilot due to his sporting performances within the last two years. His appointment will also be done by the end of February.

Then six month are left for our pilots for training, may they use this time, to finally guide the German colours to victory, for the great sporting year 1936 is not far away, and then, the classic fight of the balloons, the Gordon Bennett Race, must also be held in Germany.

The chairman of the balloon department of the German Airsport Association was Eduard Raven. But it did not happen, as he had announced. The qualification flight on February 17th was called off because of bad weather. On this day no balloon flight in Germany was registered. So at the end of February neither the pilot of the second, nor the third balloon was appointed. The qualification was postponed to April7th, declaring the distance race from Mannheim to become the first German Championship in gas ballooning. Totally 12 crews participated in this challenge. Because here the best German pilots of their time came together, the results are given (as far as the figures could be found out):

Rank Crew Club Landing Distance
1. Bertram/Prehm Chemnitz Dlugossen 1047 km
2. Erich Deku Darmstadt
3. Geusgen/Brüggemann Köln Stary 820 km
4. Götze/Ganser Düsseldorf Thorn 814 km
5. Dr.Scholl Bochum
6. Dr.Perlewitz/Georgi Hamburg Wajaliet 810 km
7. Frank/Weber Augsburg Zabno/Posen 768 km
8. Brickwedde/Winter Bremen Weißkeißel 466 km
9. Schaeffer/v.Hammerstein Hannover Bernsdorf 420 km
10. Burghard/Schäfer Düsseldorf Kl.Gölitz 230 km
11. Kiebeler jr./Saatmann Berg.Land Hesslar 87 km
12. Becker/Rapp Stuttgart Dettingen 34 km

With the confirmation of this result by the "Reichsluftsportführer" in June 1935 the teams for the Gordon Bennett Race could finally be appointed. So the first balloon would be flown by the winners of the qualification, Otto Bertram/Wilhelm Prehm from Chemnitz. They had the new balloon D-ALFRED HILDEBRANDT to their disposal. The second balloon was flown by Carl Götze from Düsseldorf, he was the best German competitor of the last year. With D-ERICH DEKU he also got a new balloon. As co-pilot Carl Götze choose 28-year old Werner Lohmann from his club, still a student pilot, (he got his license in 1936), an excellent sportsman. Balloon Nr. 3, D-DEUTSCHLAND already three times at a Gordon Bennett Race was given to pilot Eugen Stüber from Leipzig, who choose a comrade from his club, Werner Schäfer as co-pilot.

Quite a good nomination. Otto Bertram, new German champion, had experience from the Gordon Bennett Race in 1928 (rank 11) and 1932 (rank 12) and formed a good team with Wilhelm Prehm. Carl Götze had been at the Gordon Bennett Race in 1934 (rank 5) and already in 1930 as co-pilot of Dr. Kaulen (rank 5). Only Eugen Stüber we have not met before. The reason for his appointment was probably, that close before the nomination, he had set up a world record for distance in the FAI’s balloon category II together with Werner Schäfer, flying 600 cubic meter hydrogen-balloon LEIPZIGER MESSE 1.203,6 kilometres from Bitterfeld on March 25th and 26th, 1935. (Duration 15 hours, 51 minutes; Landing: 12 kilometres south of Beschenkowitschi, USSR, east of 30 degrees longitude). To 23-year old Werner Schäfer he was connected by a little more than just being comrades in a club. In April 1935, Werner Schäfer married Eugen Stüber’s daughter Gertraud.

Something else is conspicuous. Till then, the balloons mostly carried the names of their home towns, now they become personified. Reason for this is the beginning of the personality cult, balloons with the names HINDENBURG or HERMANN GÖRING show this. Also ALFRED HILDEBRANDT belongs to them. Dr. Hildebrandt, born 1870, was a military, his official title was "Ballonkommandant Major a.D.". At his 65th birthday in 1935, the magazine "Der Freiballon" wrote: ‘Besides and after his military career in the airship and flying troops, he held a lot of positions and honorary posts in different aviation associations. Short before the national turnover he became chairman of the former "Berliner Verein für Luftschiffahrt" and integrated it to the great national socialist air sport association of the new "Reich". In Berlin he build up the first storm-departments for balloons in Germany, now he is a member of the staff of the regional air sport-group 4.’ We have met him already the year before, when he flew as a substitute for the French co-pilot in balloon BRATISLAVA from Warzaw.

So in Germany the time had broken out, when sport in a club had to stand back behind pre-military education in the national socialist "Sturms". Very soon the clubs were forced to die. Lots of pilots did not care, which names were on the envelopes above them. That was a place, where they normally did not look during the flight. The main thing for them was, that they could continue performing the sport they loved. The name ERICH DEKU was not an honour in the sense of National Socialism. We have met Deku in the races of 1933 and 1934, when he had the balloon WILHELM VON OPEL to his disposal. The "Frankfurter Verein für Luftschiffahrt", where Deku was a member, was sponsored by the Opel works in Rüsselsheim. This factory belonged to American General Motors, which was suspicious to the rulers of that time, but they had nothing against the support of ballooning.

This was the balloon the crew Götze/Lohmann took to Warzaw.

The first meeting of all competitors took place at the Polish aero club on the airfield of Mokotov on September 12th, 1935, 10 a.m.. For the German balloons, extra balloonmeisters had travelled to Poland, to prepare the balloons together with the Polish inflation teams. These hard working helping hands normally always stand in the shadow of the pilots, but without them, the flight could not be done. So they should be introduced and honoured here:

To take care of the balloon D-ERICH DEKU and its crew was the duty of well known and proved balloon pilot Karl Schäfer from Düsseldorf, who had already organised lots of events. Inflation of the balloon D-ALFRED HILDEBRANDT was supervised by experienced balloonmeister Eichler, and Franz Rosche was working at balloon D-DEUTSCHLAND, he had cared for balloons from Saxony for long time.

The balloons had arrived in Warzwa in time and had been carried to the inflation field. Also all the papers and certificates for the balloons and the pilots were presented, as it is stated in the minutes of the meeting of September 12th.

The welcome of the crews by the Polish aero club was extremely friendly and helpful. The technical and organizational preparations by the Polish club were exemplary. The spirit of comradeship performed by the Polish pilots must be one of the best memories to Warzaw for all competitors.

After all the necessary preparations for the race were done in the following two days, the balloons were laid out in the morning of Saturday, September 15th. (need to translate this sentence --- Nachdem in den beiden folgenden Tagen alle notwendigen Vorbereitungen für das Rennen getroffen wurden, erfolgte das Auslegen der Ballone am Sonntag, den 15.09. frühmorgens). Technical or organizational difficulties did not happen during inflation and preparation of the balloons. It was remarkable, that several balloons, especially those from Poland, showed some quite appropriate new items in their construction and material.

13 balloons were ready for launch, for the first time at a Gordon Bennett Race a balloon from the Netherlands. At launch the President of the Polish Republic and 40.000 spectators were present. All hoped for the third victory of a Polish team and the final possession of the Gordon Bennett Cup for their country.

The balloons launched in time on Sunday afternoon in the drawn order:

1. 16.00 hr: "Bruxelles"
2. 16.08 hr: "USA Navy"
3. 16.16 hr: "Alfred Hildebrandt"
4. 16.24 hr: "Maurice Mallet"
5. 16.32 hr: "Zurich III"
6. 16.40 hr: "Torun"
7. 16.48 hr: "Kosciuszko"
8. 16.53 hr: "Belgica"
9. 16.58 hr: "Erich Deku"
10. 17.03 hr: "Lorraine"
11. 17.08 hr: "Warszawa II"
12. 17.13 hr: "Deutschland"
13. 17.18 hr: "Polonia II"

It was the sense of this time, to give short and accurate reports. To demonstrate this here, a reprint of the logbook of balloon D-ERICH DEKU, ranking fourth, is given here.

Date of the flight: September 15th, 1935
Name of the Balloon: Erich Deku (2200 cbm)
Name of the pilot: Carl Götze jr. (Flight Nr. 62)
Name of the 2nd pilot: Werner Lohmann
Duration of the flight: 44 hours
Distance of the flight: 1373 kilometres
Average speed: 31,24 kilometres per hour
Maximum altitude: 8000 meters
Time Altitude Temperature Drift Ballast (bags) Remarks
17.00 Start 19 ESE 62
17.12 180 19 ESE 60 Glass of barograph broken
17.20 100 19 ESE 59 1/2 Crossing river Weichsel
18.10 220 15 ESE 57
18.30 300 15 E 55 Reaching road Warzaw-Minsk
19.00 50 18 NE 54 Wionzowna west of Minsk
19.20 300 14,5 NE 53
19.45 550 14,5 NE 52 Seeing Wionzowna 5 kilometres south of our position
20.50 720 10 E 50 Still see the lights of Warzaw in the west.
20.55 1000 9 E 50 2 kilometres ahead of us in the east, the river Zonza appears
21.15 1110 8 E 48
22.35 1300 6 E 47 Barograph repaired
0.15 1100 6 E 45
1.25 1200 5 ENE 44 First weather-report at 1:20, radio-transmission disturbed by the weather
3.20 1200 6 ENE 42 Swamps in the moonlight
5.20 1500 9 E 41
6.20 2000 10 NE 41 New batteries in the radio
8.00 2400 9 NE 41
8.20 2100 10 NE 41 20,8 Polonka; 25,5 Long., 53,2 Lat. = 320 km in 15:20 h
8.50 2500 13 ENE 41 Nowaja Mysch, our barograph stopped, winded it up again, now in 20 minutes about 35 km speed
9.35 2700 11 E 41 From Polanka-Kraschnin on 28 km average speed
10.55 1300 12 E 32,5 Zzjlowitschi, Balloon fell, 2 1/2 bags of sand sacrificed. Also realized, that only 56 bags at launch, so now 32,5 bags
11.00 1500 11 NE 32,5/31,5
11.30 1100 11 NNE 29 Barograph track cuts previous track.
12.15 1600 12 NE 26 Uscha in Russia. Sun pulls us up to 3200 m
12.30 3300 +5 E 26 Balloon falls through cirrus clouds
12.50 3600 +3 NE 24
14.50 3000 +3 E 21
15.00 1300 +10 E 15 Fall stopped with 6 bags at 1300, because radio told of inversion at 12 - 1400
15.30 1300 10 NE 15
16.20 1200 9 NNE 11 Moschnitza at the mouth of river Uscha into Beresina
16.35 1200 9 NNE 10 Beresina crossed
17.00 1300 9 NNE 10
17.15 1300 NNE 10 Hear 4 shots of a cannon
17.30 1300 NNE 10 Another 5 shots
17.50 2000 7 NNE 9 Permanent shooting with cannons and machine guns
18.05 2000 6 NNE 8 Light-beams search for us
18.15 3000 +1 NE Again search-lights, we are at 3.600 m
18.40 4000 -5 NE Pitch-dark, we fear snow or rain. Starts snowing a little
19.00 4000 -6 NE Have marked our barograph with x 1, listen weather-reports from the radio
19.10 4000 -6 NE Probably reached Duna, search-light
21.30 3900 -6 E In the mist, soft hail and snow, balloon climbs
24.00 2800 +/-0 E Navigation impossible
1.15 2000 +6 E Barograph marked with x 2
4.00 3000 +1 NE Sunrise, must be far to the east
4.22 3800 NE again pulled to the mist, no navigation
4.35 3800 Use oxygen to fresh up, wear masks
6.00 4500 -10 E 7 Mist and snow
6.15 3600 -4 SE 7 Sztupina 55,2/53,5
7.30 5000 -8 E 7
8.25 6000 -8 E 7
8.50 6000 -12 E 7
9.25 3500 -2 E 1 Oserli on the river Oka
10.05 2800 +7 E 1
10.20 4000 -2 E 1 Decide to fly high again, to come further to the east
10.50 7500 -18 E 1
11.00 8000 -15 E 1 Rjasan on the river Oka
11.40 8000 -15 SE 1
12.15 8000 -15 SE 1 Fall begins
13.00 0 Landing at Schaberinowka near Schatzk at Morschansk southeast of Moscow. Landing very hard, Lohmann hurt his right leg.

The dramatic incidents during the flight can’t be taken out of this sober report. When they reached first 6000 meters on the morning of the third day, they faced a temperature of minus 12 degrees Celsius. All the food and drinks were deeply frozen and they were tired, hungry and thirsty. But they continued climbing and reached 7.500 meters. There the mouthpiece of Lohmanns oxygen supply iced up and a little later he became unconscious. Carl Götze also was at the end of his capability. After several attempts he managed to connect a substitute oxygen bottle and to bring Lohmann back to a waking state. They flew on. Everything not necessary went over board. At 8000 meters they got the inversion, on which they could swim for another hour without giving further ballast. A landing from this altitude is always hard. There was only 25% of the gas left in the balloon. Lohmann was hurt at the hard impact.

They had made a distance of 1373 kilometres, the longest distance that was covered by a German balloon in a Gordon Bennett Race since 1907. They had done, what had been possible, and were lucky to be awarded with the Harmon Trophy, the highest international award for pilots in those days. (The cup was sponsored by Clifford Harmon, President of the international pilots association). Now it came to the hands of balloon pilots for the first time. This young crew, Carl Götze aged 33, Werner Lohmann aged 28, promised a victory for Germany. Not in 1935, like it was wished by Raven, but it had become closer. German hopes had grown, we will see, if they would be fulfil.

The Polish had won the fourth cup. It was only three years old, they had caught up the Americans in the speed of winning the cup. This time, it was not the double winner Francyscek Hynek, but Zbigniew Burzynski, co-pilot of Hyneks at his first success. Almost 58 hours Burzynski and Wysocki were in the air, from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday morning. It was Burzynskis longest Gordon Bennett Flight, as well in duration as in distance. He had already competed in three races, two more races should follow. In all six races together, he is in the basket for a total of 217 hours and 3 minutes and covers a distance of 7.649 kilometres.

Burzynski was a very nice fellow, who never pushed his great knowledge, his experience and success in ballooning to the foreground. He never wanted to be something more than a fellow among fellows. He never was one of these pilots, who sit on Mount Olympus already at their lifetime, construct their own legend and can be imagined only with a hero. He survived World War II, when he had to suffer great harm during German occupation. For him, this was not a reason, even after this suffering, to meet German pilots with antipathy. Unselfish, he offered his scientific results to new pilots, no matter from which nation they came. Zbigniew Burzynski died in December 1971.