In memory of Hans by Ivor Paech
I met Hans at University while we were both completing our engineering degrees. He was the academic guru, always topping the class in every subject. It was obvious he had spent many a late night striving for excellence in everything he attempted, so he deserved the success.
At the completion of the course, the economic situation in South Australia was dismal and jobs were scarce, especially if the ink had not yet dried on your engineering degree! I overcame this difficulty by not facing the real world, and remaining to do a higher degree. Hans chose to go to Seattle to work for Boeing. I envied him, because we shared a common love of aircraft, and it took guts to venture to the other side of the world, leaving loved ones behind.
I lost touch with Hans, but heard via our University class newsletter that he had been a casualty of Boeing's down-sizing, and that he eventually joined Garrett in the gas turbine field. Again I envied him, as the work must have been at the cutting edge of technology.
Then I met Hans again during one of his visits to South Australia; we got our backsides in my Tiger Moth and Hans did the flying. I dropped out a Playboy magazine from the front cockpit when we flew past the back window of fellow class-mate Ian Hall's farmhouse. I believe Hans enjoyed that, and he was almost swayed from sailplanes to powered flight!
Hans visited me again at my airstrip at Noarlunga, south of Adelaide. This time we went for a ride in my Stearman, and chased kangaroos. Hans flew, same grin on his face as before. Does this guy like flying? Surely he will get something with an engine? No.
I heard he was still doing the same flying that he loved.
And then the terrible news.
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -
Wheeled and soared and swung.
High in the sunlit silence, hov'ring there;
I've chased the shouting wind along
And flung my eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Magge, Canadian WWII Spitfire pilot - killed in action.
Postscript to Ivor Paech's contribution by Bob Burke
Ivor, one of the "class of '67" with Hans and me, is the right one to contribute this poem. It's far & away the best poem about flying I've ever read, and Ivor is a pilot. Hans flew with Ivor, and so did Hans' father Fred. In fact, I met Fred one day in Adelaide and he had his hand in a sling. I asked him what he'd done, and he said casually "first time I've ever fallen out of an aeroplane" - this from a former Luftwaffe Ju88 pilot! Turned out he'd slipped off the wing when disembarking from Ivor's Chipmunk - stationary & on the ground!
I also flew with Ivor, and I felt that that flight in the front cockpit of his Tiger, on a clear winter's morning over Adelaide, was one of the bravest and best things I ever did. Our class were either pilots or drivers, or in Ivor's case both. I was and am a car nut, and have competed in various forms of motor sport for about 40 years. We both miss Hans, he was our kind of bloke, and I wish we could do more to contribute to his memory.