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100 years of engine powered flight - the Jatho project


On the 17th December 1903, the brothers Wright succeeded in flying the first motor-powered aircraft in Kitty Hawk at the Atlantic coast of the US Federal state of North Carolina. History would have it that the biplane, “Flyer I”, weighing 272 kg, stayed in the air for 12 seconds, covering a distance of 36 metres.


As early as 18th August 1903, or some four months before the Wright brothers’ flight, Karl Jatho, a magistrate and civil servant from Hannover, was propelled into the air for the first time on the Vahrenwalder Heide. His Jatho hang-glider, powered by a 12 PS one-cylinder engine, flew 18 metres at a height of 1 metre.


By November, improvements made to the engine had already enabled Jatho to jump 60 metres into the air – but this appears in no history book. Private documents, photographs and reports by contemporary witnesses, stored in Hannover’s History Museum, are the only proof. There is also a model of the hang-glider.


The Hannover Airport Working Group for Technology – Industry – History (AK TIG), has been working for months to correct the history books in respect of the first motorised flight and, by doing so, enhance Hanover’s and Germany’s image at an international level. The aim is to honour appropriately the Hanoverian aviation pioneer, Karl Jatho, 100 years after his first flight. At the time, Jatho was ridiculed by many and considered insane.


The Working Group is working hard to produce a working replica of the first motorised flying machine with the help of sponsorship.


Harald Lohmann, from Neustadt am Rübenberge, offered to reconstruct the historic Jatho biplane at Fürstenwalde airfield, as true to the original as possible, and meticulously succeeded with numerous airworthy models and 1:1 scale airplanes based on 50 years of experience.


Lohmann, who is 72 and was recently awarded the title: “World model construction champion” in Las Vegas, enjoys an excellent reputation as a competent aircraft builder among the critical inspectors of the German Federal Aviation Authority. He had drawn up detailed construction plans for Project Jatho some years ago. He could start work immediately on the reconstruction of the first motorised airplane, which preceded that of the Wright brothers, and on this occasion employ some qualified unemployed from the economically underdeveloped region of Fürstenwalde. Lohmann guarantees that the biplane will be able to start at Hannover Airport in October 2003. The only barrier so far being lack of funding.


You can find further information on www.karl-jatho.com/