Berger Hans

Hans Berger was born in 1912 in the Canton Berne, but grew up in the Canton Turgau. After the compulsory education and a period as a farmer he decided to change his job and started to work as an automobile mechanic. He also soon discovered his interest in the aviation.
During his youth he was a motorcycle racer and did some competitions. The interest for the motorcycles accompagnied him lifetime. Already in 1948 Berger showed his talent as inventor building a small automobile nicknamed "Young Switzerland" which was powered with a jet engine. At the steering wheel of the car, capable to reach speeds up to 50 km/h, the photos of that time show his 7 years old daughter Heidi (who later become a pilot of airplanes and helicopters). Her father was a volcano of ideas and was continuosly working on new projects. In the early '60s he was one of the very few amateur builder in Switzerland engaged in the construction of an helicopter. His limited financial resources were probably the main obstacle to the concretisations of his many projects. In fact most of them have remained only on the paper as for example the BHX-200 a two seater turbine powered helicopter designed in 1953, the three place BK-300 with a turbine Oredon III of 224/300 kW/shp, or the two seater BX-111, the last project on which he had worked.
Berger obtained his glider pilot licence back in 1935 and in 1947 his private aeroplane licence. In 1963 he completed in Rietdorf (Germany) the school becoming also a private helicopter pilot. Few years before he had started the construction of an experimental one seater helicopter known as BX-50 (much later renamed BX-50A with the adoption of a new two-blade main rotor) realised with a modest financial investment (picture 1). The helicopter was powered with a Continental C90 62/90 kW/shp engine and did the first flight on the 16th of March 1961 with the same builder at the controls. Berger gained the necessary knowlegdes to build a helicopter during a stage in France, where he worked for some aeronautical builders. He affirmed that his BX-50A, if produced in series, could be sold for about Sfr. 22'000.--. Unfortunately during the tests the prototype was seriously damaged.
In the meantime Berger even became the official seller of the Branly helicopter for Switzerland and Liechtenstein. With the experience acquired he started the construction of a new helicopter, the two place BX-110 (picture 2). The construction began in Ticino (where he had moved by the end of the '60s) between 1972-1974. The Federal office of civil aviation (FOCA) inspected the helicopter and gave its permission to start the ground test and assigning the registration HB-YAK. The first free flight was made officially on the 3rd June 1974 at the airport of Locarno-Magadino. However the helicopter had some problems especially with the cooling of its NSU engine, which was then replaced. In 1982 he installed on the BX-110 a Mazda RX-7 Wankel engine of 149/200 kW/shp. Some running tests were probably done but at this point Berger preferred (or was forced by his age) to stop this riskly kind of activity.
He dedicated his last life years on the project of the BX-111 (picture 3). Hans Berger passed away on the 16th of August 1994.

HAB 07/2009

Picture 1 - The single seat Berger BX-50
Picture 2 - Hans Berger's wife Ilka poses near the BX-110
Picture 3 - The BX-111 was Berger's last project