Former Cold War Airbase Captures Soviet Aircraft
Gutersloh Airfield, home of 1 Regiment AAC, received an unlikely visitor recently that resurrected memories of the site’s role in the Cold War.
Successful German Businessman and aviation enthusiast, Nils Holtermann, encountered serious engine problems whilst on a routine transit from Bitburg to Weser-Wuemme, East of Bremen. The pilot elected to make an emergency landing to the airfield’s runway; the same runway once used to launch British aircraft on missions to patrol the border with the Soviet Union. Ironically the aircraft piloted by Mr Holtermann was an original Soviet Yak 11, once used as an advanced Fast jet trainer in the 1950’s at the height of friction between East and West.
Thankfully for Mr Holtermann, the spirit of aviation fellowship prevailed. His landing, admired by the Regimental 2IC from his garden, rallied a band of helpers including the Military Police, Fire Service, and a number of Regimental personalities. Mr Holtermann, with the fire cover provided, was able to attempt a second start safely on the ground and taxi to hangars provided by his fellow aviators from 1 Regiment.
Over the following days the aircraft lay dormant whilst spare parts were ordered, and a repair was attempted, to no avail, on Tuesday evening. Despite the difficulties, 1 Regiment and many other willing volunteers helped move the aircraft, this time under muscle power, back into the hangar whilst further parts were ordered. A second series of repairs was made over Thursday and Friday, and the aircraft successfully returned to its home at Weser-Wuemme; not before a final low pass along the runway as a means of thanks from the exceptionally grateful Nils.