Skip to main content

Bode Carl

Carl (or Karl) Bode was born in Kiel/Germany on February 25, 1911. After the compulsory school he graduated as an engineer in the high technical institute of Hannover. Much later he started his activity as an airplane test pilot for various German builders. His career as a helicopter pilot started in September 1937. In that period in fact the newly founded Focke-Wulf company, builder of the famous FW 61 helicopter (which is is usually considered the first helicopter capable to perform all the classic manoeuvres of this aerodyne), was looking for a new test pilot. Bode accepted the offer and continued the test flights of the prototype. In 1938 inside the Deutschlandhalle of Berlin he became the first pilot to fly indoor. With this prototype he established numerous records, walloping those precedently set. On June 20, 1938 he flew non-stop for 230 km and on January 29, 1939 he set an altitude record climbing to 3'427 meters. Despite some accidents during the tests, the success of the flights was evident. For these reasons the German company started the construction of a larger helicopter known as FA 223 Drache (Dragon). The first prototype was tested by Bode in August 1940. As its predecessor the Drache had a side-by-side rotor configuration.
During the test flights of the new helicopter Bode was again victim of some accidents which ended fortunately without serious consequences for him.
With this helicopter he transported passengers, materials, light vehicles, armaments, parts of aeroplanes victim of emergency landings. The Drache could be equipped with doubles controls and used for the training of the pilots. During the war he also flew with the small autogyro FA 330 Bachstelze towed by an U-Boot and the Focke FA 225, an experimental autogyro which could carry nine soldiers and was towed by an aeroplane.

By the end of the conflict the German pilot had logged complessively 195h18min of flight sharing out as follow: 36h 28min on the FA 61, 156h29min on the Drache and 2h13min on the Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri, another helicopter built in limited series by the Germans. At the end of the WWII the Allies prohibited almost all the flying activities in Germany. Consequently Bode was forced to cease to fly and worked as a mechanic. He then took the decision to emigrate to Switzerland where he continued his flying career. In the Spring of 1952 he obtained the civil licence as sailplane pilot, followed on April 3, 1952 by the private airplane pilot licence. On August 3, 1952, trained by Sepp Bauer, he began the helicopter pilot school flying on the Hiller 360 of Air Import. After 7h36min of flight as PIC, on March 3, 1953 he obtained on the airport of Zürich the Swiss private helicopter pilot license nr. 7. On September 14, the Federal office for civil aviation (FOCA) issued him the commercial pilot licence nr. 7.

At the same time he went in France where he was trained at the Fenwick Aviation school to fly with the Bell 47D-1 and G models. In that period Bode was a technical consultant and member of the Deutsche Studiengemeinschaft Hubschrauber e. V. of Stuttgard. By the the Spring of 1954 he was employed by Air Import as flying instructor and flew with the Hiller 360 and the UH-12B. In May 1955 Germany joined the NATO and the military and commercial flight activities restarted. Bode decided to return to his homeland where he found a job as an instructor and technical responsible of the Hubschrauber Vertriebs G.m.b.H (HVG). HVG based on the airfield of Hummerich near Kretz/Andernach has been the first commercial helicopter company founded in Germany.During 1958 he was trained by the Heeresflieger der Bundeswehr (German Army Aviators Corps) on the airfield of Niedermendig/Eifeld. From June 13, 1958 until July 24, he completed the transition course on the Sikorsky S-58, and then from July 30, until August 25, he learned to fly with the Vertol H-21. As a test pilot on June 7, 1959 he did the first flight at the controls of the Merckle SM67 prototype, the first turbine powered helicopter built in Germany. With this model he also had an accident in which he was seriously injured. However his flying activity continued. He became technical consultant for the German military services until 1971 and then chief quality officer of the Flugtechnischen Werke (VFW) Fokker of Bremen until his retirement in 1973. During his long career he piloted over 100 different aerodynes. The helicopter list comprends among the ones already mentioned: SNCASO SO 1221 Djinn, Sikorsky S-51, S-64, S-65, Brantly B-2, Alouette 2 and probably several others. Bode was an excellent pilot, cautious and scrupulous, and as he self admitted probably always attended by a guardian angel.
He passed away on November 16, 2002 at the age of 91 years.

HAB 07/2009