The beginning of aircraft production in the Wiener Neustadt area dates back to the time of the monarchy.
On 16 July 1909, the hangar built by the municipality of Wiener Neustadt (today Flugplatz-West) was leased to the industrialist IGO ETRICH. ETRICH immediately recognized the ideal condition of the stone field for his purposes. With the flying machine „ETRICH 1“ („Etrich-Spatz“) built by him, he succeeded in August 1909 in a „jump in the air“ remarkable for that time: At a height of 4 meters, the machine could cover a distance of 40 meters. In 1910, IGO ETRICH built a new aircraft, the so-called „Etrich Dove“. With this aircraft, which was equipped with an engine designed by DAIMLER DIREKTOR FERDINAND PORSCHE, the first overland flight in Austria (Wiener Neustadt – Vienna without interruption) was made on 17 May 1910. The aircraft was built under licence by RUMPLER-Werke in Germany and became the first military aircraft to be used in large numbers in Germany.
In 1914 the Österreichische Flugzeugfabrik Aktiengesellschaft was founded, shortly after the first double-decker aircraft of the types OEFFAG CI and CII were built. Already in 1916 OEFFAG employed about 800 people. In the last two years of the war, one of the best-known single-seaters of the First World War – the ALBATROS D II and D III – was produced under licence in Wiener Neustadt.
After the end of the war in November 1918 and the subsequent peace treaty of St. Germain, aircraft construction in Wiener Neustadt was over, all flight material was delivered or destroyed to the Allies. OEFFAG now built car bodies instead of single-seater fighters and seaplanes, and in 1927 they merged with DAIMLER Motorwerke.
When the company DAIMLER moved its production to Steyr, in 1933 the work and the company OEFFAG in Wiener Neustadt was over and it closed its gates forever.
In the meantime there was a short revival in Wiener Neustädter aircraft construction when the PHÖNIX FLUGWERK was established in 1930. Some sports biplanes of German origin were produced under licence, but due to sales difficulties this factory also closed its doors a short time later. In 1935 the Wiener Neustädter Airport Company was founded on the initiative of the well-known fighter pilot of the First World War, Offzstv. JULIUS ARIGI.
Famous names of that time, like Ing. LAMPICH, Ing. MEINDL and Pilot ARIGI were the „engines“ for the Wiener Neustädter aircraft construction. Some sports aircraft were built by LAMPICH and MEINDL, small series of a few pieces, the workforce at that time comprised about 40 people.
For the airport company the situation improved when the maintenance and repair of airplanes of the air forces became the fixed work program of the company. When the German Wehrmacht invaded in March 1938 and shortly afterwards General Field Marshal Hermann Göring announced the construction of barracks, airfields and the commissioning of the Wiener Neustädter aircraft factory, many unemployed people in the Wiener Neustädter area drew hope again. Wiener Neustädter Flugzeugwerke GesmbH became a prestige object of the Reich Aviation Ministry.
Already in 1938 the completion of the later famous German hunting single-seater, the MESSERSCHMITT ME 109, was started in Wiener Neustadt. The first machine was completed in spring 1939, initially ME 109 E of various series were produced. Later followed machines of the F- and G-series, even K-prototypes were built on a trial basis.
In the „largest Jägerwerk Großdeutschlands“ not only production was done, but also repair work. Bombers of the types JU 88 and HE 111 were repaired, flew and immediately made again in Wiener Neustadt Bruch. The propaganda of the Third Reich cheered the WNF highly, newspapers reported, and foreign press people were allowed to visit the factory during the war. When in the course of the war the Allies had the opportunity to bomb Austrian territory, the WNF and Wiener Neustadt launched their first bombing raid in August 1943.
And then it happened one after the other, one bombing after the other, everything was reduced to rubble and ashes. At the turn of the year 1943/44, ME 109 production came to a standstill, decentralisation and relocation began. By the end of the war, the Wiener Neustädter Flugzeugwerke had produced about 8,500 MEASURY FISHERS of various series and types.
Second restart after 1945
After the decline, the scheduled service from the USA to Austria was opened by PAN AMERICAN WORLD AIRWAYS Inc. on 16 June 1946.
1948 the model flight was released and 1949 the gliding flight.
The ÖSTERREICHISCHE AERO-CLUBS was reconstituted in Salzburg on the occasion of the first Austrian Aviation Day on 30 July 1950.
Already in 1951, the World Gliding Championships were held in Austria and OSKAR CZEPA won the medal for Austria.
Further aces followed in the model flying competition:
HANNO PRETTNER took first place in the 1974 motor aerobatic model championships, followed by another six world championship titles. WERNER SITAR set a world speed record for glider models at 390.92 km/h on 18 June 1977 in Innsbruck during a championship in the F3B class.
Austria also urgently needed a new airport. Thus the decision was made to found FLUGHAFEN WIEN BETRIEBS GmbH. The decision was taken by the Federal Ministry of Transport. The foundation day was 11 December 1953, the same year the airports were handed over to the Austrian administration and air traffic control was established.
Since 1954 it was also allowed to train motor pilots and parachutists, on 27 June 1954 the parachuting school in Graz was opened. From February 1962 the newly established parachutist squadron of the MILAK led the parachutist training in WIENER NEUSTADT. From October 1970, civil parachuting was taught at FLUGRING AUSTRIA WIENER NEUSTADT.
After a seven-year break, a free balloon rose again in Austria. The Swiss balloon pilot FRED DOLDER launched the balloon „ZÜRICH“ on 10 April 1955 in favour of a children’s village.
The State Treaty of 15 May 1955 restored full air freedom in Austria after the withdrawal of the victorious powers. One could now think of producing one’s own aircraft.
This fact had to be celebrated accordingly. On 25 June 1955 the FIRST FLIGHT DAY took place on the premises of Schwechat Airport, the former runway of the HEINKEL company.
In WIENER NEUSTADT OTTO KAUBA started to build a motor aircraft, it was the first Austrian construction since 1937. The aircraft, the OK-15, took off on its maiden flight on 16 July 1956.
On February 1, 1957, a DOUGLAS DC-6C, a PANAM all-cargo aircraft, came directly from New York to Vienna and on March 22, the „DÜSENZEITALTER“ began with the demonstration of a „CARAVELLE“ in Schwechat. Almost exactly six years later the AUSTRIAN AIRLINES started scheduled air traffic with this type. The AIR FIRTS also became active again. On 10 April, a squadron of „VAMPIRE“ jet trainers moved into their location in Graz-Thalerhof.
One month later an Austrian flew for the first time in a glider over the main ridge of the Alps at the summit. The gendarmerie officer E. LANDL on L-Spatz took off from Zell am See and flew over the Großglockner. After 3 hours and 15 minutes he landed smoothly in Klagenfurt-Annabichl.
The founding meeting of AUSTRIAN AIRLINES took place in the ballroom of Creditanstalt – Bankverein AG in Vienna on 30 September 1957. Austria thus again had its own airline. On 1 January 1958, the Norwegian shipowner FRED OLSEN concluded a charter contract for four Vickers Viscount vessels. On 31 March 1958 one of these VISCOUNTS 700 in the colours of the AUA started for the first time from Schwechat to London.
SIMMERING-GRAZ-PAUKER AG tested itself at Wiener Neustadt airport with the construction of a twin-engine four-seater business and passenger aircraft. It was designed by Ob.Ing. ERICH MEINDL. The M or SGP 222 rose on 15 May 1959 for the first time in the air, after the construction of four prototypes however the further development was stopped. On 16 May 1959 the SCANDINAVIAN AIRLINES SYSTEMS for the first time brought a DÜSENVERKEHRSFLUGUGUG a CARAVELLE to Vienna-Schwechat on scheduled service.
The airport building in Vienna Schwechat was no longer able to meet the requirements of the enormous increase in air traffic. A new building had become necessary. On 19 June 1960, Federal President ADOLF SCHÄRF ceremoniously handed over the new facilities to the company. On 7 July 1961, the Austrian Armed Forces celebrated the commissioning of the first NATO GESCHWADRES in Vienna Schwechat; these were Swedish type SAAB J-29F aircraft. In July 1970 40 aircraft followed – the SAAB 105Ö and 24 SAAB J-33Ö Draken.
AIR MUSEUM AVIATICUM
The museum was opened on 3 June 1999. The collection includes all types of aircraft from the motor and gliding sectors, as well as balloons, gyrocopters, hang-gliders, sports, rescue and cargo parachutes.
All exhibits have been excellently restored and many are in airworthy condition. Currently there are about 25 aircraft on display, including the legendary „Etrich-Taube“.
The history of aviation – preferably that of Wiener Neustadt and Austria – is depicted on blackboards. Large glass showcases show construction plans, instruments, uniforms, objects and souvenirs relating to aviation.
Techn. Rat Toni Kahlbacher, who already made a name for himself in the 1930s as a pioneer and world record pilot, founded the association „Österreichisches Segelflugmuseum Hundsheim-Spitzerberg“ in 1983 together with Mr. Hofrat DI Reinhard Keimel in Hundsheim/NÖ with the aim of establishing a gliding museum. This plan failed, however, despite years of preparatory work.
In its search for a new location, the statutory city of Wiener Neustadt showed interest in the establishment of a glider museum in 1993. After long efforts, the museum was established at the Flugplatz Ost in cooperation with the City of Wiener Neustadt, the Province of Lower Austria and Diamond Aircraft Industries and opened in 1999.