Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Gunther Eheim - 'Mit Mut nach oben - Mein Leben' - Arado works test pilot memoir

Aged 91 years old, Gunther Eheim from Esslingen is a well-known German industrialist and entrepreneur, self-made millionaire and 'global player'. During WWII Gunther Eheim was no stranger to danger - or risk, as he makes clear in his recently published memoir 'Mit Mut nach oben - Mein Leben'. ( ' With courage to the skies – my life..' ), a well-illustrated 196-page self-published hard back. As a Fernaufklärer long-range recce pilot in Finland his Junkers Ju 88 was on one occasion set upon by Russian fighters, but Eheim brought the aircraft home with an engine on fire. From Finland he was posted to KG 40 and flew the Heinkel He 177 before later joining Arado as a works test pilot where he logged some forty eight in-flight engine failures up to the end of the war ! He was at the controls of, among others, the first Arado Ar 234 C-3 four-engine jet bomber (WerkNr. 250 001) which was test flown in Alt-Lönnewitz on 30 January 1945. He also flew C-3 WerkNr. 250 002 in Alt-Lönnewitz as late as March 1945. At least four more C-3 can be proven by registrations in Flugbücher or by photos according to Griehl's history although up to mid-April 1945 only approximately 12 more C-3 cells were finished. A lack of engines and other equipment prevented delivery to units.

Eheim’s war stories would more than adequately fill a decent-sized book, but his adventures continued in the hard post-war period. In 1947 Eheim established his first company, building small electrical goods and he later enjoyed much success with accessories for model railways and filters and pumps for aquariums which he developed into a multi-million DM/Euro business.

His passion for aviation never left him and in the early 1970's Eheim went into the air charter business with a single Learjet, eventually founding Contact Air, an airline that currently operates scheduled city flights for Lufthansa with eleven aircraft. His other business (Eheim Aquaria) continues to grow with manufacturing plants now established in China for the Far Eastern market. Even at 91 Eheim still spends two days per week in the office. As he himself puts it, his success is testament to hard work and stamina, a sense of adventure and, above all, good fortune.