Re-launching a 100-year old plane - RIMOWA's Junkers F13

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Without a hint of doubt, one of the most interesting aeronautical projects I have seen in recent times has been the resurrection of the Junkers F13.

The comeback of this nearly 100-year old magnificent aircraft can be attributed to the personal initiative of the owner of German luggage-maker RIMOWA (actually, I am updating this to "former owner", since barely two weeks after presenting its Junkers F13, RIMOWA announced the company was being sold to French luxury giant LVMH)

The Junkers F13 was a truly advanced aircraft when it made its first appearance in 1919, it was a successful airliner during the 1920s and well into the 1930s, but no airworthy of the type remained.

RIMOWA's CEO, Dieter Morszeck, himself an aviation enthusiast and a pilot, invested in the building of an exact replica of the Junkers F13, as per the original blueprints (with the addition of some specific pieces of modern technology so that the aircraft could comply with present-day safety requirements)

You can read a full account of this projects and some historical background on the Junkers F13 in this piece I wrote for CNN a few months ago...

...and after you have read it, fast forward a few months and let's travel to Dubendorf airport, near Zurich.

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Celebrating the F13's comeback in style

One could not have asked for a better setting. It was a sunny mid-September day, with temperatures well above the Swiss norm for this time of the year.

 Here, RIMOWA's owner Dieter  Morszeck examines the Junkers F13 cockpit, while a 1920s-style band plays in the foreground

Here, RIMOWA's owner Dieter Morszeck examines the Junkers F13 cockpit, while a 1920s-style band plays in the foreground

Several hundred guests had come from all over the World to witness a truly extraordinary event: amidst an amazing "roaring 1920s-style" party, the Junkers F13 was ready to take, once more, to the skies.

 Flying again after several decades...something to celebrate!

Flying again after several decades...something to celebrate!

 The Junkers F13 had strickingly modern lines for an aircraft built in...1919!

The Junkers F13 had strickingly modern lines for an aircraft built in...1919!

 Another Junkers innovation: corrugated duralumium fuselage, that was later popularized in the Ju-52 ("Tante Ju") and is also a signature feature of RIMOWA luggage

Another Junkers innovation: corrugated duralumium fuselage, that was later popularized in the Ju-52 ("Tante Ju") and is also a signature feature of RIMOWA luggage

 The open-air cockpit - the flag is ready to celebrate the historical touchdown too

The open-air cockpit - the flag is ready to celebrate the historical touchdown too

 An unusual angle - note, again, the duralumium skin. The cabin had space for 4 passengers and was heated! a great innovation at the time

An unusual angle - note, again, the duralumium skin. The cabin had space for 4 passengers and was heated! a great innovation at the time

 Getting the aircraft into position - a lot of artisanal work in the early days of aviation!

Getting the aircraft into position - a lot of artisanal work in the early days of aviation!

The key moment was, of course, the first flight of the beautiful F13 - with, both, Mr.Morszeck and a pilot at the helm.

As expected, the Junkers F13, took off gracefully and completed a 20min flight over Dubendorf airport without any incident.

A truly amazing sight it was!

 Cleared for take off - from the grass runway!

Cleared for take off - from the grass runway!

 Junkers F13 airborne!

Junkers F13 airborne!

Upon landing, Dieter Morszeck held a Q&A session with the public and the media - the event was presented by Amelia Earhart - yes, you read that well! - an American pilot and TV anchor that, in 2014, managed to complete the global circumnavigation that her namesake attempted in the 1930s.

 Dieter  Morszeck explaining the experience of flying the F13. To the left, the pilot that accompanied him. To the right,  Amelia Rose Earhart .

Dieter Morszeck explaining the experience of flying the F13. To the left, the pilot that accompanied him. To the right, Amelia Rose Earhart.

And, after the feat..time for some partying!

The Junkers F13 was brought to a nearby hangar that doubled as a dinner and party venue - complete with a historically-and-aeronautically-themed music show.

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 Some historical pictures of the origina Junkers F13 - in fact, among the guests invited to the event were a direct descendant of Otto Junkers and a 90-year old man that had once flown in the Junkers F13 as a child!

Some historical pictures of the origina Junkers F13 - in fact, among the guests invited to the event were a direct descendant of Otto Junkers and a 90-year old man that had once flown in the Junkers F13 as a child!

Another great opportunity to admire, from up close, this wonder of early commercial aviation! 

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Some more good news: the Junkers F13 is going to become available for bookings.

It will be possible to make panoramic flights out of Dubendorf, Switzerland, and, RIMOWA confirmed that there are already plans to build a second Junkers F13, also for on-demand flights, that is going to be based in the US.