Dassault-Breguet-Dornier Alpha Jet

The colourful plumaged bird of prey

The Dassault-Breguet-Dornier Alpha Jet is the young-timer amongst old-timers in the fleet of the flying bulls. Even so, no other aeroplane took as much time to get into the air. Technical reasons were, however, certainly not responsible for this.

Acquiring a military jet isn't easy. Not even for countries. Treaty obligations must be honoured and inch-thick contracts must be signed. The regulations regarding the sale to private organisations, on the other hand, are very transparent, as they simply do not exist. Sigi Angerer first had the idea of buying an Alpha Jet at an aviation exhibition, which was initially met with quizzical looks from his crew. Nobody had attempted to transform a military jet into an airworthy civil aircraft before. The reason why the Alpha Jet was chosen was due to its excellent flight characteristics. But its propulsion technology played an even more decisive role.

Its turbofan engine is markedly quieter than other jet engines. Originally, the Alpha Jet was used as a schooling aircraft for pilot training and was also developed as a light fighter aircraft in a Franco-German cooperation. Between 1979 and 1983, a total of 175 Dornier Alpha Jets were purchased by the German Luftwaffe. In 1993 and 1994, the dissolution of the Alpha Jet wing followed. Only a group of flight instructors remained who continued to carry out the basic tactical training of future Tornado crew members until 1997, before the Alpha Jet was retired once and for all. At this point in time, first contacts were made on the part of the Flying Bulls. First, two museum pieces were able to be purchased by auction, before the surprising offer of two airworthy aircraft arrived – and was accepted without hesitation. The jets were overhauled and made airworthy. However, the real work began later – when managing director of the Flying Bulls, Harald Reiter, spent several hundred hours on the telephone in negotiations with ministries and in the offices of authorities.

It is thanks to his persistence and diplomatic dexterity that we were able to achieve in four years what had previously been unimaginable: following their demilitarisation, two former military jets were granted permission for civilian air traffic in Germany. Now only one last hurdle remained. As this aircraft category had previously not existed in civil aviation, there were no flight training guidelines, let alone instructors. As a result, the retraining was taken over by a former Luftwaffe instructor. In March 2002, both Alpha Jets finally took their maiden flights as civil aircraft. That the fleet of the Flying Bulls comprises four specimens of this type is not only due to its trouble-free operation, but also its uncomplicated flight performance.

Despite a five per cent reduction in engine speed in observation of noise control regulations, top speeds of up to 1000 km/h are easily attainable. For urgent appointments, the journey from Salzburg to Vienna can be shortened to a mere 27 minutes! A load factor of up to 7.5 g allows for extreme aerial manoeuvrability. After all, beneath its colourful plumage rests the heart of a bird of prey.

Sigi Angerer's Logbook

Alpha Jet

Every young pilot dreams of one day sitting in a jet fighter. I did too! You can't borrow a thing like that though; you can only get at one through either the military or a millionaire! But really, only the Alpha Jet came into question, which, at that time, was already fitted with a 2-motored fan engine, very similar to the Falcon 100 – and it was gorgeous. My friend Christian Schwemberger, who himself had a Falcon 100, was easily persuaded that we also needed a two-seated “business jet”.

At that time in the beginning of the eighties I had a sizeable budget. The years passed, with discussions and negotiations right up to the highest levels, but nobody wanted to sell an Alpha Jet to a young Austrian! At a show in Friedrichshafen I showed Didi Mateschitz (who was then at the beginning of his flying career) the object of my desire. As open-minded as he is, he liked my idea, but I really think he preferred the Piper. Over a period of time, several Alpha Jet spare parts were put up for sale. Everyone found it slightly amusing that I now had three brand new wings at home. More years passed, Didi flew the Falcon 100 and we occasionally spoke of the Alpha Jet. Then came the announcement: 2 aeroplanes were being auctioned off! Only intended for museum purposes, the wing spars would have to be notched with a saw to render them not airworthy and chain them forever to the ground.

However, I still had a few wings at home, and with a little handiwork one could surely… We purchased both Alpha Jets by auction! Now this is where Harald Reiter entered the picture, whose skilful negotiating convinced the German Luftwaffe that we were fairly reasonable people after all, and had no interest in going to war. Eventually we were able to buy an airworthy Alpha Jet and, following many further laborious negotiations, obtain temporary air traffic permission. Following a thorough overhaul at Dornier, we took over a mint-condition Alpha Jet in Fürstenfeldbruck. On 27 March 2002, 20 years after my initial attempt, one of my greatest dreams came true: I landed the first civil ALPHI in Oberpfaffenhofen! It flew exactly according to my expectations. The most important part of the Alpha Jet venture had been accomplished, just not at a “really fast” pace.

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