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Bauer Josef (Sepp)

Nicknamed "Sepp" by his friends, Bauer in the early 1950s contributed enormously to show the helicopter’s potential in Switzerland.
Bauer was born in Salen-Reutenen near Steckborn/TG on July 11, 1918. Between 1934 and 1938 he did an apprenticeship as automobile mechanic in Mühleturnen/BE. In 1942 along with Albert Villard who became the first Swiss to earn a helicopter pilot licence, he was trained as a military pilot in Dübendorf/ZH. Bauer did his first solo flight with a Bücker Jungmann and was in active service until 1946. During this period he had the opportunity to fly with different aeroplanes such as the C-36 and the jet aeroplane DH-100 Vampire.


After the military service he was first employed by Aero Club of Basel as full time flight instructor and then by 1948 by Aero Taxi of Zürich.
On October 18, 1949 in Spreitenbach he had the opportunity to take a ride on the Hiller 360 along with Albert Villard (the first Swiss to obtain a helicopter pilot licence). That flight signed the beginning of a new aviation career. Bauer in fact decided to become a helicopter pilot. Along with Hansueli Weber, a flight inspector of the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (OFAC), between February and March 1950 he was trained by Villard. On March 29 the OFAC issued to Bauer the private helicpoter pilot licence n° 3. On September 7 he obtained the Swiss commercial helicpter pilot licence n° 3

From the of September 16, 1950 until to October 12, he flew around France with the Hiller 360 F-BFPR of Helicop-Air. This helicopter was used for an advertising campaign on behalf of the famous producer of socks Stemm.
From July 1, 1951 until August 31, 1955 he worked for Air Import based in Lucerne-Kriens (the first helicopter operator in Switzerland) becoming its chief-pilot and technical director. During this period he did a lot of tests using Hiller helicopters. In the course of this period spray-flights, aerial advertising, passengers transportation, demonstrations, school flights as well as rescue missions became a routine for him.


As an instructor he trained several pilots such as for example Leo Kunz, Carl Bode, Emil Müller, Max Kramer, Walter Demuth, Eck Bender and many others.
On March 2, 1955 using the Hiller UH-12B HB-XAH he landed on the Jungfraujoch at an altitude of 3'450 meters, an exploit if we consider that the helicopter was equipped with an engine of limited power (only 200 hp!).

He then left Switzerland and went to Germany. Here on August 1, 1955 along with with Carl Bode he started his new activity with the German company Hubschrauber Vertriebsgesellschaft (HVG) of Düsseldorf. On August 10, he flew with the Bell 47H Bellarius D-HABE, the first commercial helicopter registered in Germany. On November 23 he obtained the German commercial helicopter pilot licence n° 2.
Bauer returned frequently in Switzerland. In the period between the 10-21 March 1957 using the Agusta-Bell 47G2 HB-XAP he completed the helicopter training of Hermann Geiger, the famous Swiss glaciers pilot known for his SAR missions in the Swiss alps. In June Bauer teach Geiger how to fly at high altitude the new Bell 47J Ranger HB-XAU. Despite its limited performance, Geiger frequently used this helicopter for rescue and transportation operations at high altitude.


On October 1, 1957 he left  HVG and started a new activity with Deutsche Helikopter Dienst (DHD) based on the Hummerich aerodrome near Krupf. During his long aviation career Bauer tested a lot of helicopters. For example between March 26-29 1958 he was trained on the SO 1221S Djinn.
From September 1, 1959 until June 30, 1962 he was employed on behalf of Motorflug Gmbh in Koblenz.
He then left this company and by June 25, 1963 he was employed by Air Lloyd in Bonn-Hangelar. He had been working for this company until his retirement on June 30, 1983. Three years later on December 6, 1986, at the airport of Bonn-Hangelar, he did his last flight as a pilot.


During his long flying career he logged 10'643 hours of flight and 70'772 landings. He flew with 96 different models of aeroplanes and helicopters, and with sailplanes and airships too. After his retirement he lived in Germany with his wife.

Sepp Bauer passed away on February 29, 2000 at the hospital of Aarau/Switzerland after a short illness.

HAB 08/2009