Dornier Do 27 “Serengeti”)

Under the title “Serengeti must not die”) there is a book and a tremendous film in Germany which most Germans know. In them the former Director of Frankfurt Zoo, Prof. Dr. Bernhard Grzimek, and his son Michael report about the wild animals of the African steppe. One can also see how they fly over the land with their little plane, a zebra-striped Do 27, and film the huge buffalo and gnu herds. No other machine seemed to be more suitable for this task than the Do 27, which was developed by Claudius Dornier sen. and jr. after World War II. Similar to the much older Fieseler-Courier aeroplane Fi 156 “Storch”), it had especially favourable qualities for flying slowly, so that even at minimum speeds of 50 km/h it still remained stable in the air and could start and land in the smallest space. On the other hand it could also reach a speed of 250 km/h. A first prototype flew on 27th June 1955. Together with the spacious cabin and the good storage possibilities it was very useful for research and military purposes.
With this aeroplane it was possible for Prof. Grzimek to carry out animal counts on behalf of the British authorities and to make his film, with which he wanted to arouse understanding and sympathy for the wild animals. However, the work for the wild animals was Michael’s undoig. On 10th January 1959 he was flying alone in the Do 27 when the right wing collided with a griffon vulture. A tremendous blow shook the “flying zebra”), the wing was bent and the control strokes got stuck. The plane crashed from a height of 200 m in a steep right-hand curve and was completely destroyed. Grzimek jr. was killed. But the photo and film shots which he made remain unforgettable.

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