Book review: The Women Who Flew for Hitler by Clare Mulley
Within the cockpit of the Stuka dive bomber, the pilot reached the top of the climb, rolled the plane sideways and tore down almost vertically towards the earth at 350 mph. The engines howled, the wings whistled and the fuselage shook so violently that the instruments on the control panel were almost unreadable. Astonishingly, given that this was macho Nazi Germany in 1941, the pilot was a woman. With her gloved hands, Melitta von Stauffenberg clung to the joystick as the plane plummeted 10,000 ft. With the ground just 500 ft below, she pulled up as hard as she could, her oxygen-starved brain close to blacking out. The nose lifted and, just in time, the bomber flattened out, skimmed across the runway and landed. Another death-defying test flight, one of thousands Melitta made, was over for that rarest of breeds — a woman aviator in Hitler's Third Reich.
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From Nazi Test Pilot to Hitler's Bunker: the Fantastic Flights of Hanna Reitsch
Dennis Piszkiewicz's book on highly accomplished pilot Hanna Reitsch mostly focuses on the war years as well as those surrounding WWII. Reitsch, like most Germans in her time, began flying gliders and stood out as a pilot from early on. Her skill and fame brought her close to those in power in the Luftwaffe and the Nazi party. This gave her opportunity to fly Germany's advanced aircraft designs like the Me 163 Komet, piloted V-1 'Buzz Bomb' and the early helicopter Focke-Wulf Fw 61. Not mentioned is her yeoman work was with the Ju 87 Stuka, military gliders and bomber modifications. Perhaps her most spectacular work was in flying Luftwaffe commanders into as well as out of harm's way in Russia as well as besieged Berlin using the Fiesler Fi 156 Storch - including her time in the Führerbunker in the last days of Hitler.
US Army Intelligence report about the interrogation of Hanna Reitsch available on PDF
PaperlessArchives.com has published a document called "The Last Days in Hitler's Air Raid Shelter, Hanna Reitsch Interrogation," which contains a WWII US Army Intelligence interrogation unit report on the interrogation of Hanna Reitsch (a German aviator who was the first woman to fly a helicopter, a rocket plane, and a jet fighter - and the only woman awarded the Iron Cross First Class).
A direct link to the PDF (9MB)
Hanna Reitsch's exclusive interview now available online
"Hanna Reitsch: Greatest Nazi Test Pilot & World's First Astronaut" -- an 14-page article which appeared in Edit International -- now viewable online with photographs.
In the Name of the Luftwaffe - A true story by OSS Intelligence Officer Jim Hudson
OSS Officer Captain Jim Hudson arrested German aviatrix Hanna Reitsch, after VE Day, May 8, 1945. "Hanna Reitsch has done it all. She was called the greatest woman flyer of the world, and she had just come from the underground bunker of Adolf Hitler where he had holed up for his final stand. He wanted Hanna to fly Colonel General Ritter von Greim... around Europe to command the last Luftwaffe attack to save Germany... For Germans to fly anyone, anywhere in the summer of 1945, was virtually impossible, for the Allied planes had total air supremacy. Could it be a clue that her insistent passionate cry was that she did it in the Name of the Luftwaffe."
Hanna Reitsch: First woman astronaut and test pilot [documentary footage]
Hanna Reitsch, Nazi Germany's famed woman test pilot who had flown the VI rocket bomb in sub orbital flight in the early 1940's (20 years before the first spaceman) was in reality first astronaut. Her passion for the air overtook her life, and she became Third Reich's ideal woman: young, daring and highly publicized by the Nazi propaganda machine. If she hadn't been on the losing side and if she had later admitted the horrors of the Nazi regime, Hanna Reitsch would be in history books as the greatest woman pilot. In 1945 she flew into a burning Berlin and landed a plane on a street full of Russian tanks.
Hanna Reitsch - The Luftwaffe made full use of her talents (Article no longer available from the original source)
The fastest and most dangerous plane, she tested was the secret German rocket plane, after 3 male pilots had died in their attempts. First she flew the prototype without the motor, the Me 163A. Then she flew the militarized version, the Me 163B, Komet. ... As he awarded Reitsch the Iron Cross of the Knight's Cross, First Class, the only woman to receive this medal. ... She tested the prototypes of the V-1 rocket, in 1944. The first powered flight only went a kilometer, and the early prototypes showed a tendency to crash. To resolve these problems, a piloted flying bomb was developed, with the warhead replaced by a cockpit.
Female pilot Hanna Reitsch pitches suicide squad to Hitler (Article no longer available from the original source)
Hanna Reitsch, Nazi Germany's celebrated female test pilot, suggested that Adolph Hitler should create a suicide squadron of glider pilots. Hitler was skeptical, believing that such a squadron would not be a good use of Germany's limited resources. The blonde's enthusiasm finally won Fuehrer over: he agreed to look into the adapting the V-1, which was designed to be a pilotless bomb, to a kamikaze vehicle. Reitsch promptly formed a Suicide Group, and was herself the first person to take the pledge: "I hereby... apply to be enrolled in the suicide group as a pilot of a human glider-bomb. I fully understand that employment in this capacity will entail my own death."
(News of the Odd)
From Nazi Test Pilot to Hitler's Bunker
Hanna Reitsch excelled in an environment that was extremely repressive - Germany before and during WWII. She achieved personal success when she escaped the cultural role of mother in Nazi Germany to live her passion for flying. Reitsch began her career flying gliders, setting both distance and endurance records. As the war approached she became a test pilot for new and dangerous aircraft for the Luftwaffe. The aircraft she flew included a large number of gliders and military aircraft, including Focke-Achgelis FW 61 Hubschrauber (the first practical helicopter), the jet-powered piloted version of the V-1, and the rocket powered Messerschmitt 163.
Hanna Reitsch: Hitler's Female Test Pilot
Groundbreaking pilot Hanna Reitsch was determined to fly and she would set more than 40 records in her lifetime. But she was tragically slow to recognize the ruin into which the Nazis were leading her homeland. In 1936 Reitsch met Ernst Udet, head of the Technical Branch of the Ministry of Aviation and the highest-scoring German fighter ace to survive WW1. At the time, she was working on the development of dive brakes for gliders. After demonstrating the use of dive brakes in a vertical dive before Udet, other Luftwaffe generals and German aircraft designers, she was awarded the honorary rank of Flugkapitän, the first woman ever so honored.
Hanna Reitsch biography - She flew everyting the Third Reich had
As the world's first female test pilot (and female Iron Cross winner) and helicopter pilot, Hanna Reitsch flew everyting the Third Reich had: from the first helicopter (the Focke-Achgelis) to the prototype of a piloted V-1. She went on to set more than 40 altitude and endurance records in motorless and powered aircraft in her lifetime. In 1945 she flew the last plane out of Berlin hours before the fall of the city. Although politics had nothing to do with her love of flight, she was the only woman ever to be awarded the Iron Cross and Luftwaffe Diamond Clasp.
Summary Of Interrogation of Fraulein Hanna Reitsch
The last days of the War as they were experienced by Hanna Reitsch, the well known German test-pilot and aeronautical research expert. Her story is an eye-witness account of what happened in the highest places during the last moments of the War. Her account ot the flight into Berlin to report to Hitler and of her stay in the Fuehrer's bunker is probably as accurate a one as will be obtained of those last days. During the night of the 25th-26th of April Reitsch and Greim arrived at Rechlin, prepared to fly into Berlin. The landing at Gatow was made through heavy attacks by Russian fighters who were strafing the field when they arrived.