During the VGC meeting at Oberschleissheim,
my friend Dr. Jörg Ziller invited me to visit Munich and his
summer castle, at Tegernsee. On our way to Munich, we started a
conversation about one of our favorite subjects, old gliders.
said that I should write about the Brazilian gliders and their
history. Since I am just a pilot, I know that writing, history and
sailplanes are serious matters and because of this should be left
to serious writers . Well, there is just one little problem there.
Very few, in Brazil, have tried. So, I am sticking my neck out
with a short article about one of my favorites gliders: The Grunau
The Grunau Baby was a very important glider
for the development of the sailplane movement in Brazil, as it was
all over the world. Also, it was the first glider produced in
series in our country. Very few people know this, even here in
Brazil.A lot of articles have been written about the Babies, and
one thing is certain about them: No one knows exactly how many
Babies have been produced in the world. So here I am contributing
to make this confusion even bigger.As usual, you shoot at the
pigeon, and hit the pterodactyls, which (according to Murphy's
Law) will then fall over your own head, never over that of your
mother in-law. This proves the cruel nature of things. But, what I
am trying to say is that, searching for the material to write this
article, I have found some interesting information, and some nice
The first Baby in Brazil
The German expedition of 1934 was responsible for a
great impulse to the glider movement in our country. The stories
of the flights are wonderfully described in Peter Riedel’s book:
"Über Sonnige Weiten", and since the subject here is
just the Babies, I will mention the Baby of the expedition in
February 17th, 1934, Hanna Reitsch in her tiny Grunau Baby
(D-Christian) established the female altitude world record of 2200
meters, flying over the Campo dos Afonsos, in the state of Rio the
German expedition of 1934 was responsible for a great impulse to
the glider movement in our country. The stories of the flights are
wonderfully described in Peter Riedel’s book: "Über
Sonnige Weiten", and since the subject here is just the
Babies, I will mention the Baby of the expedition.
In February 17th, 1934, Hanna Reitsch in her
tiny Grunau Baby (D-Christian) established the female altitude
world record of 2200 meters, flying over the Campo dos Afonsos, in
the state of Rio the Janeiro.
Sixty-one years later, I visited the Kovacs
family, in Sao José dos Campos. Two things happened that day:
Mrs. Kovacs made an excellent five o'clock tea, and Mr. Kovacs
gave me the magazine "Asas" (Wings), from 1934.In this
magazine, there was a small item. It said that a Grunau Baby was
bought from the German expedition, by the Clube Paulista de
Planadores. One point is not very clear in the article. Was this
Baby the D- Christian, Hanna Reitse’s glider? Or was the glider
to be sent from Germany? Further research solved this question, as
we can see later.
from the Clube Paulista de Planadores
The well known glider pilot H. Dittmar spent
some time in Sao Paulo teaching some Brazilian pilots and
instructors. In 1935, the fruits of his works appeared. The pilot
Decio A. Moracs Jr., flying a Grunau Baby, established the first
Brazilian Duration Record. Later on,
Alfredo Schuring donated two Grunau’s to the club,
imported from Germany. Some authors are not sure about this. The
gliders could also be the Brazilian produced "Alcatraz”.
Babies. I could not confirm this information from other sources,
so the doubt persists. According to one author (I couldn't confirm
this from other sources either), three more Babies were built at
club changed its name to Clube Politecnico de Planadores, because
the powered aircraft were used for primary instruction in a
The Grunau Baby built by Mr. Joao Luiz
In 1935, Mr. Joao Luiz Job built a Grunau
Baby in San Paulo. Unfortunately, very little information exists
about this glider. We can see by the picture that, like some
Babies build in Brazil this ship had some modifications from the
original German blueprints. The modifications include the wider
cockpit and so on. The original registration marks of this glider
were PP- 6.
The German Baby from Ponta Grossa
In 1932, a group of German descendants, from
the Parana state, started an intense glider activity at the city
of Ponta Grossa.They built a "Professor" glider and
started to fly. Since they were very poor, the German government
donated a Grunau Baby to the group. This happened in 1936., Later,
with the beginning of the war, this ship was confiscated by the
Brazilian Government. You see, this is another mark to the Babies!
What a menace, it was a Grunau Baby in 1942! In 1942, this Grunau
was given to the Baura Aeroclub, in the Sao Paulo state. This Baby
is still in good condition, and flying at the club today.
The picture show a photo of an Grunau Baby from the VARIG
glider club, at the city of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul
state, Brasil.Circa 1938.
In Feb. of 1937, the VAE - Varig Aero
Esporte was founded, which could be defined as the sport division
of Varig airlines, in the Rio Grande do Sul state, under the firm
leadership of Captain Carlos H. Ruhl, who had arrived from
Germany, where he had followed some courses in airplanes and
gliders. The VAE was modeled on the German clubs and it was active
until 1944. Many classes of pilots were formed, several gliders
were imported and built at the shop, and also several records were
established by its pilots.The imported gliders were very good. To
give you an idea of the quality of the gliders, we can mention the
Kranich II, the Waihe, the Rhön Bussard, the Wolf; the Grunau 9,
the Grunau Baby, Höl's der TeufeL Zeuglings, and many others.Some
still exist today, like the Kranich II, which was sold to the
Aeroclube do Parana, and is still flying. Also the Wolf, which is
at the Varig's museum, at Porto Alegre Airport, in the Rio Grande
do Sol state. Others sutured accidents and were unfortunately
destroyed, like the Waihe, destroyed in an accident during the
Brazilian Nationals in 1968, and the Rhön Bussard, which was
destroyed in an accident in 1960. In both accidents the pilots
escaped unharmed.One Grunau Baby was imported from Germany, it was
the PP-11, nicknamed "Corvo" (Crow). The fate of this
Grunau is still unknown to me, like the other gliders built at
their shop. What I am trying to do is to update this information,
exchanging letters with the people from the museum.
Mr. Kurt and his gliders
forties, under the leadership of Mr.Hendrich Kurt, a Swiss
immigrant living at the city of Bauru, the Bauru aeroclub assumed
an important role in the gliding scene in our country. Several
gliders were imported, designed and built at the club's shop.
Mr. Kurt started building some
"Zöglings", from the German blueprints. These gliders
were appropriately called "Cangunis", because they were
used to teach the beginners, in small hops over the grass. One of
these gliders survived, and was restored some years ago by Mr.
Kurt, who then test flew it at Bauru. He was more than 70 years
old at the time! At the moment this glider is hanging from the
roof of the hangar at the Bauru club.
After that, he build two "Hols der
Teufel'. Then a Grunau Baby, three Olympia Meise, the Colibri,
which I thought to be a Spalinger design, but Mr. Peter Selinger
said (I have sent him a photo ) that it could be the Elfe 1, from
Prof. Pfenninger, with a Horten wing and one of the most beautiful
of the Brazilian designed gliders, and the HW-4 Flamingo, designed
by Hans Widmer. Some good gliders were imported also, like the
Spalinger S25 a and the Laister Kaufmam LK 10a.
Unfortunately, I don't know how many Babies
were built by Kurt in Bauru. The photo that Mrs. Doris (Kurt's
widow) kindly gave me, shows the Baby built by Kurt. We can see
that, like many other Babies built in Brazil, this one had some
modifications, like the nose, vertical stabiliser and rudder. This
Baby still exists, but it is not flying, (while it is under
process of restoration), and my friend Mr., Paulo Francisco da
Silva (VGC member) told me a sad story about it. Some years ago,
Mr. Kurt saw this Baby, and it wasn't in a very good condition. He
asked the owner to leave the glider at Bauru, so he could restore
it, but unfortunately, the owner did not agree with that. I don't
know in which club this ship is stored at the moment.
Now there is only one Baby in Bauru. It's
the PT-PBP, which is a original German built craft, the one that
was sent to the pilots of Ponta Grossa, before the war.The story
of this craft deserves to be studied more deeply, because this is
an original pre-war German Baby, and it is still in flying
of the Grunau Baby in Brazil
I think that very few people in (and
outside) Brazil, know that the Grunau Baby was the first glider
produced in series in our country.The entrepreneur Franciso
Pignatari was at the time president of the powerful group
Pignatari, a complex of several industries with activities in
At the end of 1940, an aeronautical section
of one of these industries, the Laminação Nacional de Metais was
founded at Utinga, state of São Paulo. It was headed by the
engineer Jorge Rocha Fragoso.
In 1941 the construction of 30 Grunau Babies
II was initiated, which received the name of "Alcatraz",
this is the name of a marine bird from Brazil.
After that, another series of gliders was
built, with the blueprints acquired from the IPT (Technological
As we can see by the photos, the little
"Alcatraz" also had some deterrence’s in relation to
the German Babies. Without doubt, this small "Production
line" was a significant contribution to the soaring sport in
Other Babies were built by pilots or
amateurs, but it is very difficult to assess just how many, where
and by whom.
A good example of this was told to Miss
Claudia Figueiredo, during a flight, by Capt. Meneguini a 767
pilot of Varig Airlines. He said that one Baby was built by his
father and a friend, in his father's garage, when he was young.
During this flight, there was another coincidence. Claudia was one
of the stewardesses, and the pilots were Captain Meneguini, who
flies gliders and told her that story, and Captain Gerson
Bergamin, who had had the chance to fly the Baby from the CPP.
This glider is still in good shape, and this was the Baby used by
Hanna Reitsch, in the German expedition. About a month ago, the
president of the club, Mr. Annando R. Pucci gave me a call, and
told me that the club was selling some gliders, including one SB-5
and this Baby. So, if anyone wants to buy the original Grunau Baby
used by Hanna Reitsch in 1934, please give us a call. Of course, I
tried to raise some money to buy it, but with two Grunau Babies
and one Olympia Meise, I have too many gliders, too little money
and absolutely no space available.
Stories like that exists and must be
researched, before they fade away and be lost or completely
The Babies at the Brazilian National
For some time, I have been trying to gather
some information about the history of gliding in Brazil. Some good
friends are spending time on this. and lending me a hand. Mr.
Joseph Kovacs gave me some material about the Brazilian
Championships, and Mr. Carlos Dufriche (he knows everything about
aviation in Brazil!) gave, me a list of part of the gliders
registered in our country.
In this material I found some
interesting facts about this Babies.
The first Brazilian Championship was run in
1954, and the gliders were divided into two classes, the first one
- class A - to gliders with gliding ratio above 20:1, and the
other - class B - to gliders with a performance below that.
The champion of class B was Mr. Aldo Weber
Vieira da Rosa, flying a Grunau Baby, registered PT-PBN. Another
Baby, from the Bauru Aeroclub finished in seventh place.
In 1961 I ( Mauro Lins de Barros) entered ITA - the aeronautical
engineering school in São José dos Campos. One wednesday,
probably late in the year, one of the two Grunau Babies
from our gliding club ventured too far from the field when an
unfavorable wind started. The pilot tried desperately to return
but, perhaps half a kilometer before the runway, a wing struck
the ground and the glider cartwheeled. Fortunately, he only suffered
a dislocated arm and a few bruises. The Grunau was a total loss.
I witnessed the whole scene from a distance. Incidentaly, the
Grunau was of a light beige color with black registration in
wings and fuselage.
Mauro Lins de Barros
The next year, on the second National
Championship, the champion was again Mr. Aldo Weber Vieira da
Rosa. Other Babies finished in second and seventh places. This
championship was held at Bauru.
The third Championship was held at Bauru
again, in 1956. The winner was Mr. Antonio de Padua, flying a
Grunau Baby. Second came another Baby, with Ms. Carmen Guimaraes.
Other Babies finished in the fourth, fifth, eighth, ninth and
And so on, during many years the Babies
dominated the Brazilian Nationals in class B. Unfortunately, at
the moment, I don't have the results of all of the National
championships, but some surprises are still found, like I974,
during the sixteenth National, when a Baby was the champion. Yes,
it was in 1974.
The Babies registered in Brazil
My dear friend Captain Aldo Pereira, who has
flown Junker 52 and DC 3 (and I am quite envious about that!!),
introduced me to Mr. Carlos Dufriche, some time ago. Both
gentlemen are well known authors of articles and books about
Brazilian Aviation History. Well, Mr. Dufriche gave me a precious
list of old gliders registered in Brazil. This list was the base
of my research about gliding in Brazil. Of course, Mr. Joseph
Kovacs is always guiding me in these matters, with his prodigious
In the beginning, around the forties, there
were no registration-numbers or letters on the gliders. Later on,
registration was applied in the form of two letters (PP ) followed
by one or two figures. Then, this was changed, into the use of two
letters (PT) followed by three letters, like PT- PAK. Also we have
some gliders with the first two letters PP, followed by three more
letters, like the old registration of my Olympia Meise: PP-PCL.
And the gliders that fall in the experimental category, received
the letters PP, followed by the letter Z and two more letters,
like the new registration of my Olympia: PP-ZVK.
So, here we have the list of the Babies:
PP-6 , PP-7 , PP- 11 ,PP- 12, PP- 13, PP-14,
PP-15, PP-20, PP-21, PP-22, PP-23, PP-27.
Alter that, some changed registrations, or
received new ones:
PT-PAA, PT-PAB, PT-PAC, PT-PAD, PT-PAF,
PT-PAK, PT-PAL, PT- PAN, PT-PAP,
PT-PAT, PT-PBC, PT-PBE,
PT- PBJ, PT- PBK, PT-PBP, PT-PBQ, PT-PBX, PT- PBY,PT-PBZ.
finally, the experimental:
PP-ZQK, PP-ZQJ, PP-LTV, PP-ZVE.
Some of the Babies still survive, in spite
of bad treatment, new pilots, fungus, wet hangars,
glass-ship-fanatics and so on, But, how many?Another
good question. We must surely have some dismantled and forgotten
Babies in hangars, barns etc. The registrations from the Air
Ministry are also very, very confusing. So, I made, from memory, a
short list of some Babies that we know to be in good condition
(i.e. flying condition).
This ship belonged to the Birigui
Aero club. Maintained in very good condition, apart from some
modifications, and in need of some minor maintenance. My friend
Andre Maffini found it, and told me about it. Of course, I bought
it (and almost went bankrupt again... Remember, there is the
eternal unfinished Meise in my life). At the moment, this ship is
stored at Mr. and Mrs. Kovacs garage, in Sao José dos Campos.
Their kindness is amazing. My impression is that if one day I will
arrive at their home with a Boeing 747 on top of my car, they will
guard it in their garage, saying it is the most natural thing in
the world to do...
This one was from Rio Claro Aero
club. A friend of Miss Claudia Figueiredo from this club, told her
about this ship. I went to see the Baby, a little suspicious,
because Babies are a very rare breed to be for sale in Brazil. My
fears vanished as soon as I arrived at the club. The Baby was
beautiful! So, she bought the Baby, of course... At the moment it
is in the hangar of the CVV-CTA Club, at Ipua, near São José dos
Campos. Thanks to the goodwill of the president of the club, Mr.
Paulo Bittencourt, and all of its members and friends. This ship
also has some modifications, like a landing wheel, different
canopy and spoilers. Well nothing that can't be reverted to the
original configuration, designed by Edmund Schneider. Perhaps,
after the completion of the Olympia, the other Grunau and some
other old sailplane that appears on the road in the meantime...
Grunau-Baby is " living " in Rio Negrinho, a small city
in the countryside of the beatifull state of Santa Catarina -
Brazil . Later I can send photos to you, because for a while , the
baby is changing the colors and I hope in two months will be OK.
The Baby is in good condition and was flying until last december.
Carlos Machado Februari 2005
This ship belongs to the CPP Aero
club. It is stored at the Jundiai Airport, near São Paulo City. A
German Baby, it is the Hanna Reitsch glider. At the moment of this
writing (1995), this Baby is for sale.
to the Acroclube de Vôo à Vela de Nova lguaçu, at Rio de
Janeiro. It has been kept in very good
condition by the members of this club during several years of
This is the original German Baby
from the Bauru Aeroclub ( Photo P.F.da Silva 1995
PT-PBP - This is the King of
the fleet. It is the German Grunau of the Bauru Aero club.
The Babies PT-PAB, PT-PAY, PT-PAP, PT-PBJ,
PT-PBK, PT-PBO, PT-PBQ, PT- PDH, PP-ZQK and PP-LYE, are still on
the Ministry records, but I don't know their present conditions
This picture was taken by Jorge
Neumann over Albatroz Glider Club in Osório, southern Brasil
PT-PDH is still flyable at the Albatroz Aero
Club in the city of Osorio, 100 km from Porto Alegre.
Klaus Heyn versus the Brazilian Grunau Babies
At Oberschleisheim, I had the opportunity to
speak with Mr. Heyn. I had two photos of the Babies recently
acquired, and showed them to him.
Well, only a few seconds using of his hawk
like eyes were sufficient for Mr. Heyn to point out so many
differences in relation to the original Babies, that he thought
the two gliders were not Grunau Babies at all.
Back in Brazil, I started to learn more
about the "Non-Babies". It wasn't very difficult to find
Well, the little gliders are Babies, but
like so many Babies built in Brazil, both have some modifications
in relation to their German brothers. And besides that, the
gliders have been subject to several inspections, maintenance and
overhauls, and it appears that at every one of these, some genius
has tried to do something to "improve" the little
Babies. I agree with Mr. Heyn. With so many modifications, they
don't look like original Babies any more.
PT-ZTJ looks like one of the original "Alcatraz",
built around 1940 by the Laminação Nacional de Metais. Because
of that, it has the different nose shape, a little more rounded,
the struts are made of wood, like the Baby II, the, ailerons are
the Baby II, different from the Baby llb. From the Baby llb
came the air brakes. After some time, a wheel was installed behind
the skid. The cockpit is also modified, with an enclosed cabin,
and Plexiglas canopy. This Baby suffered some considerable
modifications in the fifties, at the Aecroclube do Parana.
Heresy'.? Most certainly so! But nothing that a well done
restoration project could not fix, returning the Baby to its original configuration.
ZQI, started its life as a Grunau Baby II, and also
suffered some major overhauls. Now it has air brakes, like the
Baby llb, different cockpit configuration, it still has the
original ailerons from the Baby II, the wing struts are also like
the Baby II made of wood, and it is equipped with a landing wheel
behind the original skid. But, as I said before, nothing that can
be reverted to the original configuration.
So, Mr. Heyn was right, they are not
original Babies, but (at least some of them) can be reverted to
their beautiful and original shape. Thank you, Mr. Heyn, for your
comments at Oberschleisheim. Your eyes really go straight to the
With no doubts, this is not the definite
history about the Grunau in Brazil. I think that, in the end, I
have raised more questions then I supplied answers. But this is a
part of the game, it is a good thing to raise questions, so
that maybe other people could get interested in the subject, and
try to gather more information, helping us to learn more about
this nice little glider.
information and help:
From São Jose dos Campos - Mr. Joseph and
Mrs. Tereza Kovacs
From Rio de Janeiro - Captain Aldo Pereira,
Mr. Carlos Dufriche and Ms. Daisy Keating and at last but not
least, Ms. Claudia de Figueiredo Marques
From London - Mr. Paulo Roberto Montoro, Mr.
Colin and Miss Anson, Mr. Christopher Wills and Mr. Geoff Moore,
who put me in touch with everyone.
From Bauru - Mr. Andre Maffini, Mr.Paulo
Francisco da Silva and Mrs. Doris (the widow of the late Hendrich
From Germany -Mr. Klaus Heyn, Dr. Jörg
Ziller and Mr. Peter F. Selinger. They always have information
about old gliders.
The friends of the Aecroclube de Bauru and
the Clube de Vôo à Vela do CTA.
Magazines. publications. articles and lists
The magazine "Asas" (Wings), from
February, 1934 - which was a precious gift from Mr. Kovacs.
The magazines "Flap", "Aero
Magazine" and "Térmica', from several issues.
The records of the Brazilian National
Championships, which were stored at Ipua, and belong to the ABVV
(Brazilian Soaring Association).
"The Worlds Vintage Sailplanes 1908-
1945", the wonderful book by Mr. Martin Simons, Kookaburra,
"Die berühmtesten Segelflugzeuge"
- by Mr. Georg Breitting, Motor Buch Verlag, Stuttgart.
'Uber Sonnige Weiten" - by Mr. Peter
Riedel, Motor Buch Verlag, Stuttgart.
"Die Segelflugzeugen in
Deutschland" - by Mr. D. Geismamm,
Motor Buch Verlag, Stuttgart.
A Construção Aeronátitica Brasileira 1910
11976" - by Mr. Roberto Pereira de Andrade, Editora
Brasiliense, Sao Paulo.
Historia da Aviação Brasileira - vol.II" - Edited by the
"The Sky is my Kingdom" - by Miss
Hanna Reitsch, Greenhill Books, London.
"Manual del Vuelo a Vela" - by Mr.
Wolf Hirth, Ed. Labor, Spain.
"A conquista dos ares" - by Mr.
Paul Karlson, Globo, Porto Alegre.
"Rosa dos Ventos" - A publication
from the VARIG Airlines Museum, at Porto Alegre, which was sent to
me by Ms. Lidia Marques (via Ms. Claudia Figueiredo Marques).
"The Grunau Baby" - An article
published by the VGC, sent by Mr. Colin and Alice Anson.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find the name of the author. Suspect
number one is C.W. , of course.
"The RAB 1976, 1989, 1991" - A
publication with the registrations of the Brazilian Sailplanes,
edited once a year by the Civil Aviation Dept. of Brazil.
"The Dufriche's list" - So far,
the most complete list of the Brazilian Gliders. It was generously
handwritten by Mr. Carlos Duftiche, from his personal records. A
priceless gift that I received, and always a source of correct and
Before I started to write this article about
the Babies in Brazil, I had the good sense to study the history of
them. That is why I mention sources from several countries, and
thank so many people from various places for their information and
help "above and beyond the call of duty".
The reader will observe that I wrote
"Compiled by", not "Author" preceding my name.
It is because I feel that I just got all the information from these various
sources, and just put it together. So the merit is theirs, not
PS - And please remember: If you found the
article something like pure thrash, bury the telephone, fax and
mailbox of Herr Ziller under your complaints. All this was his
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