Monday, October 14, 2013

Whatever Happened to That Bücker? (Updated w/more Photos)

A while back a fellow antique aviation nut posted a very unique photo online.  I was immediately drawn to it.  Obviously taken in WWII, the image was unlike any of the other hundreds of thousands of photos you've seen; a Bücker Jungmeister in American paint.
Andy Heins, most commonly known for his love of Wacos, isn't one to turn away from any biplane. Vintage flying machines are something he connects with.  And judging by what he told me about these photos, it runs in his family.
For a great video of a Jungmeister flying in Germany in 1939, CLICK HERE.

Here is Andy's response to my request for more information about the photo:

"When my fathers squadron moved France to a liberated airfield the Bucker was there. My father, being the commanding officer (C.O. Of Headquarters Squadron of the 9th Troop Carrier Command), claimed it as his. This was late 1944.  He said it was painted cream with orange and that he hated to paint it O.D.
At the end of the war, my father secured permission to ship it home as "squadron material" from the commanding general, who happened to be Maj. Gen. Paul Williams, head of the 9th Troop Carrier Command. My father was the generals personal pilot. My dad delivered it to the glider depo to be dismantled and crated. Everything that belonged to the squadron was shipped home. However, fate intervened and he and the whole squadron got held up for two weeks facing possible deployment to the Pacific.
When they finally got cleared to depart my father lead the squadron home with the General on board. When they arrived in the U.S., everything was there except the Jungmeister! He always wondered what became of it.
Fast forward to a year ago....started doing research and his Bucker was presented to the German National Aerobatic Champ named Felderbaum in 1939. He was a Luftwaffe pilot and kept it until he had to leave it at the field where the Allies liberated it".
So, is there anyone out there who can fill in the missing pieces?  Do you know where it is, what happened to it, or maybe just a little more of the story?  I'm guessing we'll never know but there's a chance someone knows what came of it.  How great would it be for Andy, and the family of the German aerobatic pilot, to find that plane?

About the man in the photo:
Of course, like so many other folks from that generation, there's much more to Andy's dad's story.  Fortunately someone thought to write it down.  And since Andy was kind enough to send it to me, I'm including it below.  Does someone in your family have a story to tell that isn't recorded?  If so, get it done.  Once they're gone, their story will be also.
Lt. Colonel Edison D. Heins was born March 7, 1918, in Jackson, Michigan.  Growing up in Jackson, he became enamored with aviation and had aspirations of being a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps.  He graduated high school at the young age of 16 and immediately began attending Jackson Junior College, where he earned an Associate’s Degree in Business.  While attending college, he pursued his aviation dream and learned to fly as part of the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) at the Jackson Airport in a Piper J-3 “Cub”.
Following graduation, he entered the Army Air Corps as a Flying Cadet and received his Primary Training at Parks Air College in East St. Louis, Illinois, flying a Fairchild PT-19.  After Parks, he was sent to Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas for Basic where he trained in a North American BT-9.  Upon completion of that training, Lt Heins was sent across town to Kelly Field for Advanced training flying the North American BC-1 and AT-6.  He graduated in July 1941 as a member of Cass 41-E.  Being only 5’5” tall, he was selected for fighters and was assigned to the 31st Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field in Mt. Clements, Michigan where he would be flying the Bell P-39 “Air Cobra.”  Also while at Selfridge Field, Lt Heins had the opportunity to receive his multi-engine rating in an obsolete Martin B-10 Bomber. 
In September, 1941, he accepted temporary assignment to Patterson Field in Dayton, Ohio and was checked out in the Douglas C-39 (DC-2).  Returning to Selfridge Field in November, Lt Heins requested a transfer to Troop Carrier.  His request was approved and in December of 1941, was sent to the 11th Troop Carrier Squadron at Westover Field in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts.  The following year in June of 1942, the squadron was given orders to proceed to England via Greenland and Scotland.  He crossed the Atlantic as first pilot in a Douglas C-47.  On November 7, 1942, he was awarded his first Air Medal for “Meritorious Achievement while participating in the longest massed, unescorted, non-stop troop carrier flight ever successfully performed”.  The flight originated in England and flew non-stop to Oran, Algiers in North Africa as part of the Africa Invasion.  He remained in North Africa until July 1943 when he was promoted to Captain and became Commanding Officer of Flight Section, NAATC and personal pilot to Commanding General, Brigadier General Paul L. Williams.
In 1944, Capt Heins joined the IX Troop Carrier Command after Brigadier General Williams was promoted to Major General and placed in charge of the entire unit.  Capt. Heins was promoted to the rank of Major and assumed the position of Commanding Officer, IX Troop Carrier Command HQ Squadron.  While there, Major Heins participated in every major invasion in Europe, towing Waco CG-4A Gliders or dropping paratroopers of the famous 101st and 82nd Airborne. Major Heins also became qualified on numerous other aircraft to include the B-24, B-17, C-46, C-54, A-26, UC-61, UC-64, UC-40 and UC-78.
In July 1945, Major Heins returned to the U.S. and was assigned to Stout Field in Indiana.  In 1946, he followed Major General Williams to his new assignment at Greenville Army Air Base in Greenville, South Carolina.  In 1947 Major Heins was qualified as a “Senior Pilot” and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  Shortly thereafter, Lt. Colonel Heins made the decision to leave the Air Corps.  During his career, Lt. Colonel Heins had participated in the following campaigns:  Africa, Tunisia, Sicily, Salerno, Rome-Arne, Normandy, Holland, and Rhineland.  He was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, EAME Ribbon with 10 battle stars, ATO Ribbon, American Defense Ribbon and WWII Victory Medal. Ed Heins remained an active pilot flying Waco biplanes until 1978 when health issues ended his flying days.  He passed away in 1991 just days after his 73rd birthday.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rich,

Great article about the Jungmeister in Nordo news. Flederbaum won the 1939 aerobatic championship in Jungmeister D-EHKU. The photograph could be the same plane, but back then all Buckers were owned by the Deutche Luftsportverband, a government owned flying club. They had several Jungmeisters and I'm sure Felderbaum flew all of them.

Later today, I'll post pictures and more information. If you want (and allow me) I will publish your article on te Bucker website as well as contacting several Bucker friends in Germany for information.


Brian Karli

Rich Davidson said...

Please do Brian. I'll see if I can find out any additional info.