Press Release: Major achievement and adventure 90 years ago – Flight around the world with Mercedes-Benz 20-hp aircraft engine
The yearning to fly
Baron von Koenig-Warthausen misses winning the second Hindenburg Trophy in a row by a hair: He arrives at the Roosevelt Field airfield in New York on 3 November 1929, two days too late for another award. However, nobody can take the triumph of this exceptional flight around the world with 15 kW (20 hp) away from him. The masterpiece is accomplished equally through the performance of the pilot, the loyal and reliable L 20, and the support of people along the route of flight. The “Neue Zeitung Berlin” newspaper writes on 20 November 1929: “The flight had to succeed, not only because the engine was good, not only because the young flyer found the sporting help everywhere in the most far away foreign countries, which his home unfortunately denied him in part […], no: at the yoke of his Hünefeld was a real man, a man who knew exactly what he wanted and who flew with an idea in his mind and in his heart”. The name “Hünefeld” in the article referred to the new name of his L 20, which Koenig-Warthausen picked after his arrival in the USA to honour the record-setting pilot Ehrenfried Günther Freiherr von Hünefeld, participant of the east-to-west flight across the North Atlantic in 1928.
After the ship passage, Koenig-Warthausen takes off from Bremerhaven for the last leg of his flight around the world on 22 November 1929. However, due to poor weather, he ends the flight in Bevensen (Lower Saxony) with an emergency landing. “End of the flight Berlin – Asia – USA – Berlin” is what the baron enters in his log the next day. The Klemm-Daimler L 20 light aircraft is returned to airworthy condition in Bevensen and transferred to the factory of the manufacturer on 28 November 1929.
Replica of the record-setting aircraft in the Mercedes-Benz Museum
The Klemm-Daimler L 20 light aircraft “Kamerad” has been part of the permanent exhibition of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart since 1980. Because the original aircraft of Baron von Koenig-Warthausen no longer exists, a detailed replica based on an L 20 is built specifically for the museum. The baron personally makes a host of documents from the private archives of the Koenig-Warthausen family available for this purpose. Today, the L 20 is part of the “Legends Room 3: Upheavals – Diesel and Compressor” and there soars over the visitors. The dream of the personal aircraft as a means of daily transport is given a strong boost by accomplishments such as the flight around the world 90 years ago with the Mercedes-Benz aircraft engine. This vision has not caught on to date. But that could change in the years to come – for example, due to the aviation start-up Volocopter from Bruchsal. The company intends to launch autonomous electric air taxis (eVTOL) in a few years. Daimler AG holds a stake in Volocopter.