SynopsisThe history of the aeroplane is barely 150 years old. The era of aviation pioneers was defined by brilliant inventors like Otto Lilienthal and the Wright Brothers, who gave their ideas wings.
Less well known but no less critical, was German pioneer, Ernst Heinkel. From the jet engine to the ejection seat, from the retractable undercarriage to what was at the time the fastest aeroplane in the world – many of Heinkel’s inventions have shaped and advanced air travel as we know it.
Heinkel’s name is also associated however with the horror of the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War. Many forced labourers from the concentration camps died in his factories, and the bomber squadrons built there put fear and terror into the hearts of people across Europe. Engineer, inventor and tinkerer, National Socialist or hanger-on – the person of Ernst Heinkel is still disputed to this day. Reports from historians and eyewitnesses of the time are pieced together with rare archive material to build a picture of this pioneer of aviation. Who was Ernst Heinkel? Was he a visionary, who accepted everything just to see his dreams fulfilled? Why is his name hardly known outside the inner circles even though modern aviation would not be conceivable without his developments?