Rare German Junkers JU52 makes first trans-Atlantic flight in 75 years to make EAA appearance
Laura K. Selenka
for The Northwestern
Jul 14, 2012
A rare German Junkers JU 52 will be a main flight line attraction at this year's AirVenture.
In June, "Aunt JU" made her first cross Atlantic flight since 1937 to join air enthusiasts in Oshkosh.
The JU 52's contribution to European luxury travel began in 1932. By 1938, the JU52 was providing 75 percent of all German passenger flights, and remained a main part of European aviation for over 30 years. The aircraft provided quiet, comfortable tri-motor air travel.
The unique design of the Junker JU52 includes grooved wings and open access cockpit. The airplane is crafted from light-weight materials, principally aluminum, a cutting edge choice for designer Hugo Junkers in 1932.
Sponsoring her American appearance is Rimowa, a luggage company whose legacy is intertwined with the plane. Amy Jakubaitis, Public Relations Spokesperson for Rimowa, said Paul Morszeck founded the company in Cologne, Germany, in 1898 to provide travelers with steamer trunks built of wood and leather. In 1932, his son, Richard, was so inspired by the light-weight design of the Junkers JU 52, that he created a new design mimicking the aircraft. His aluminum luggage captured the corrugated look of the JU 52, and soon, the airplane itself was called "The Flying Suitcase."
EAA Curator of Collections, Ron Twellman, said that while advances and inventions within the airplane industry will often build off of previous designs, it is "fairly unique that someone outside the industry found inspiration for a product."
The Junkers JU 52 is currently operated by the Swiss aerospace company JU-AIR, which specializes in the preservation of historic aircraft. They operate three original JU 52s all of which were built around 1939. Before arriving in Oshkosh, the company will tour "Aunt JU" through several high traffic airports, including Van Nuys in Los Angeles, Front Range in Denver, White Plains in New York, and Billy Bishop in Toronto.
Laura K. Selenka is a freelance writer for the Oshkosh Northwestern.