We about us
The comming into existance of the Fokker-Team-Schorndorf
1. Pre history
It was in the year of 1988, when I was still a 15 year old youngster grown up in the swabian town of Schorndorf, when together with my best friend Wolfgang Schuster we started to leadour interest in the field of aviation into concrete directions. My name is Achim Sven Engels.
Since ever I can remember aircraft and everything concerned with have been my special interest. As many young boys did, I have spent many of my free hours to spent big ammounts of money to buy plastic model kits of airplanes and a lot of time to construct them. Countless of such models decorated my room and cought dust there. In regular therms these models also have experienced hazardous destruction by my two cockatiels - what of course resulted in free space for new models. When in 1983 I was able to make a jump into secondary school. I came along another youngster named Wolfgang Schuster. We understood one another immidiately and a strong friendship was born.
Together we spent our time and many mad ideas have been the sources of our two minds. The most mad one of these might have been the idea of constructing an airplane. For sure it should be capable of taking us into the air! As a result we sat together every day after school and discussed how such an object should be designed. Of course, we did not know the bean about what was to consider at all if such a venture should be turned into reality. But this was not what mattered at all since we had a strong believe that it will work.
Different designs have been developed. One of these did survive the years until today. A weakened sheet of paper carrying a faded drawing of a strange glider airplane gives witness of these days. This drawing even carries a description reading "Kleine Ente" (little duck). This was how we called that thing back then. I recall very well that we have had a special idea about what to do, if our creation would become too heavy to fly. We thought about filling the wings with helium. We did not want to take hydrogen since we knew about the tragidy that happened to the famous airship "Hindenburg"
However and whatever might have happened, neither the "Little Duck" nor any other one of our developments have been realized in those days.
Following the first year I spent on the secondary school, several circumstances lead to the fact that I was forced to return to the extended elementary school. Perhaps the most important reason was lack of mind? However, the friendship between Wolfgang and me was strong enough to survive and we still met every day after school.
2. The idea of the first reconstruction full size Fokker Dr.I
Together with my dad and Wolfgang we paid a visit to the Deutsches Museum at Munich here in Germany back in 1988. It was indeed a very impressive experience to us. Especially fascinated I have been by the reproduction Fokker Dr.I that was on display there. It took me that much that I have instantly decided that I will built such an airplane one day on my own. That was it at this point of time for me and the idea of building an aircraft did again raise in the back of my mind. Of course I did not have the money such a project would have costed and also I did not have the space and the possibility to actually start such a undertaking. But the dream existed further on. In the flow of the same year I came accross an issue of the German aviation magazine "AERO". In this issue the triplane I have seen at the Deutsches Museum was covered in a detailed report. Soon after the decision was made. If not in full size then I would design and construct a super scaled radio controlled model of that plane.
3. Groundwork begins
I started to develop drawings from which I could work. Since the model should become absolutely original in every respect I also begun to deal more closely with the history and technical datas of the plane. I collected everything I could get and started work on the radio controlled model. The first try went wrong. The second try went well and when the fuselage of the model was finished I took a very close look at it and decided that it could hardly be much more complicated to construct it in full size.
The researches proceeded and lot of new relationships to museums, collections and even well reputated aviation historians world wide did develop. More and more material was put together by me. Step by step the number of construction drawings that I produced did also grow. The quality of these first drawings have also experienced an improvement as I started to find someone who might be interested in financing the construction of the full size reproduction.
After a long therm search all over Europe I received a letter by the Auto & Technik Museum located at Sinsheim, saying that they would be interested in the purchase of such a reproduction for their exhibition. The Museum would also be interested in paying the expences of the construction of the plane. The men in charge at the museum requested a meeting to give them the opportunity to develop a picture of my person. At this date I was 17 years of age.
After the experts of the museum have inspected the construction drawings developed by me and I had managed to convince the responsible persons that I would not only start such a project, but would also bring it to an end, a contract was developed that regulated all steps of the construction and the financing aspects. If viewed from todays point, I would say the whole project was absolutely under financed, but both sides profited from the venture. The museum had found a "silly" person who would construct for little money a complete aircraft and I have been provided with the possibility of showing what I was able to do. With regart to my age at this date I was not able to take full legal rights, my father had to sign the contract, too. At this point I should not fail to pay my father full tribute to his actions. Whose father would support such a undertaking of his 17 year old son and would trust in his capability of not only starting the project, but also bringing it to an end? At least a big ammount was money could be lost if something would went wrong.
4. The dream gets wings
Nothing went wrong! The financing was done in steps according to the process of the construction and the construction itself went well ahead. Even if under hazardous conditions. Since neither my friend Wolfgang nor I have received any practical education at this time, we have been forced to learn everything on our own by consulting technical teaching books and by what is called "learning by doing". In reallity it turned out that many tries went wrong until our own expectations agreed with the result. For good reason it is said here in Germany that no master falls from the skies.
As mentioned allready we have built up good relationships to well reputated and skilled people in the scene. We did go ahead to collect informations that would improve the historical correctness of our reconstruction. Many times we discovered that several details have been reconstructed wrong by us, but everytime such an error was discovered by new incomming information we changed our construction drawings immidiately. At the end our aim was not to simply construct a reproduction that looked like a Fokker Dr.I if viewed from outside only. Our aim was to discover how the triplane realy looked and to preserve this knowledge for future generations. Not only with respect to the drawings we developed, but also with respect to the reconstruction triplane.
Wherever possible we seeked the discussion with all persons who claimed to know something or all about the triplane by publishing our findings. By doing this many questions have been solved, of course, too. A special experience strenghtened our will to do the best possible research. We believed that there must be a person at the Fokker Aircraft B.V. in the Netherlands who should know much about this triplane. At the beginning of our research we also contacted the historical staff there. They allready heard about our doings since it was only with respect to our age well known in these circles.
The men in charge at Fokker at this time have been Mr. P.Alting and Mr. Roe. Mr. Alting allready did construct a full size reconstruction of the triplane for the Shipol Airport museum in the Netherlands. For his project he used the drawings set produced by Mr. Ron Sands of the United States.
Mr. Sands did develop a complete set of drawings for the triplane that, using his own word "should enable the average american to construct a close copy of the Fokker triplane from the kitchen table.". The historical correctness of these drawings is not absolete, but this never was the aim of Mr. Sands. However we got a streight answer from Mr. Alting at Fokker. "Let us face it: What you are doing makes no sence, since the same work allready has been done by an American named Ron Sands. And these plans are the ultimate!"
We did of course know the drawings by Mr. Sands and we also knew that his intention was not to develop drawings for a 100% correct reconstruction from a historic point of view. He followed another aim. But we learned that the historians at the Fokker company knew much about their aircraft as long as historical background is concerned, but the knowledge about structural details of their aircraft was not included. At least it seemed logical. Who is interested in such out dated technical details. For sure it not unusual for a company to know only little or even nothing about the constructional details of their products. But it is a certificate of poverty, if something that is obviously not correct at all is praised as the ultimate. Above all if this statement is made by people who - one could expect - should know it much better. Out of the mouth of the official Fokker historian such a statement is like falsification of history. At least we feeled it that way judged by the eyes of our naive youth. It strenghtened our will to go ahead and put things right.
The reconstruction became finished and also did our set of drawings. Our planset covers some 200 technical line drawings complete with an own system of ordering and all bills of material.
5. The Task
Many of our personal friends have supported the reconstruction of the triplane by offering their help during construction. From this group of young people (the avarage age was 20 years) the FOKKER-TEAM-SCHORNDORF was formed. The Fokker-Team-Schorndorf followed a streight and consequent basic line. We made it to our aim to research the knowledge about the structural details of German aircarft up to 1920, to overwork it and to preserve it for future generations. In first line - as allready mentioned - we do focus on technical information while history and stories around it are of secondary field of work. We proclaim our selfs as being some kind of aircraft historians and not aviation historians. Through detailed researches we try to put together all documents related to the design of aircraft concerned. These documents are examined carefully by us and we do basing on this develop new construction drawings from which the Fokker-team-Schorndorf and others will be able to construct authentic reconstruction aircraft.
The F-T-S is not a real association, but rather more a group of people who are working in this field. From time to time the members do change. The intrepid power behind it all is my person -Achim Engels. The reason for this is simply since after leaving school the usual daily working time table leves not much spare time to spend for these activities. So basically what is left of this team nowadays is my family members and me.
The Crew Involved in the Construction of the First Triplane
Achim Engels / Wolfgang Schuster
|The reconstruction done for the Technik Museum Speyer is, as we do hope, only the
first step into the right direction. Further projects will doubtless follow. At the
present we are working on construction drawings for two more very interesting aircraft. At
first there is the famous Fokker D.VII
of 1918 and at second there is a very
interesting Taube-like monoplane of 1912, the Hübner
Type IV. The only surviving piece of this aircraft is preserved and put on display at
the Auto und Technik Museum at Sinsheim. There it was restored after discovery in the late
80ies and was carefully meassured by Peter Cohausz who provided his dimensional sketches
and lot of photographic material to the Fokker-Team-Schorndorf.
In the meantime the Fokker-Team-Schorndorf did publish several books on the topic of early German aviation technologie. Reading extracts you can view at Querdenker-Autorenunion (QAU). Since there are no translations available yet we would recoment to be capable of reading German before you go there.
We also have started to errect an archive of documents and photographs related to the topic. If you are interested in our lists visit the Archive.At this point we would like to request your help. The F-T-S is allways looking for historical documents, photographs and books about the topic. Even meassurements of original parts or any kind of technical related reports are very much of interest. If you find our work worth to be supported and have such material, we would highly appreciate you to contact us. If you have anything of this kind to give away, be sure that the material will not end up in the shelfes of a simple archive, but that it will be examined carefully and will help to preserve the knowledge. But let us point us, that this only is for documents related to German aviation up to 1920. It would be to overwhelming if we should try to work it all out if we not put this limit to our activity.
If you might have any question on the topic of German aircraft technology we offer our service to you and will try to find a proper solution to your question.
At this point we would like to put an end to the "We About Us" section. For more information about our work please surf through our website.
Copyright © 1990-2000 A.S.Engels; historical dokuments und photographs are free..