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2018-03, Oman & a new Book

Oman and the Rub' al-Khali

Whilst the biggest part of the “Rub' al-Khali” (The “Empty Quarter”) is actually on the soil of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabis, the smaller part within the boundaries of the Sultanate of Oman is by far easier to access – not because of the terrain but because of the visa regulations for foreigners.

We have spent only twelfe days n the Country, amongst them four in the dunes – and it was just marvellous. Beside two military vehicles (not sprayed in “Desert Pink” we have seen just nobody: The dunes and us – that is exactly how it should be!

And it was a most relaxing journey for me – I had Wolfgang and Mia in front of me. They now the Country very well and Wolfgang is an excellent drivr in the dunes… I just had to follow and enjoy.

Three people and two cars sounds a bit too much… in fact it is true: Three people would easily fit into a Toyota Land Cruiser, even if beside the regular luggage some “desert gear” has to be carried. But that would mean less fun to me (onley one person can drive in one car) and in particular it would reduce our “safety margin”.

My five top safety rules for desert-traveling are these:

1) Stay calm – in whatever situation you are, once you get nervous, hectic, angry… then it becomes dangerous

2) Proper navigation – all means nothing if you don't know anymore where you are… and where you have to go

3) Have sufficient amount fuel – without fuel, nothing happens anymore. You stay at a place where you cannot walk back to an inhabited place or a road. Not good.

4) Have a sufficient amount of drinking water – no water… no life.

5) Have a second car with you – this is the one who pulls you out of the soft patch of sand you got stuck in

That's it.
And here some photos:

Desert Pink
Desert Pink - real or not?

KUno Gross

Desert Pink - real or not?

To consider the color “pink” as an actual camouflage for vehicles in the desert did never sound plausible to me. Some “sources” (I do not know if these are really sources or just quoted hearsay) state that “in the Sahara, under certain conditions in the evening sun, the sand appears to be pink”.

01.04.2018 18:24 | Kuno Gross

NOTLANDUNGEN! KZ VII Lærke, Der "Dänische Storch" in der Schweiz
NOTLANDUNGEN!   KZ VII Lærke, Der "Dänische Storch" in der Schweiz

Kuno Gross & Kurt J. Jaeger

NOTLANDUNGEN! KZ VII Lærke, Der "Dänische Storch" in der Schweiz

It was never planned to become a new book but only some sort of an “extended article”… but… now it is here. It ias actually the first and until now only book ever published about the aircraft-type KZ VII Lærke. Somebody had to be the first – why not my colleague Kurt Jaeger and I?

I am very sorry – again a new book without actual desert-content… however two of the nine aircraft described made it to Northern Africa, down to Kenia. Then one of them crossed the Continent and flew up the Sahara back to Europe… so at least something.

Have a look.

2018 January, Happy New Year

The neaw year has already started. Not much snow in the area where I live and only for a very short time – had to fall back to one of last years photos therefore for the New Year^s address.

I which everybody a very good 2018 (and some desert-travleing for me…)

20.01.2018 15:54 | Kuno Gross

2017 July, Egypt, Sailing on Lake Burullus

Lake Burullus is located in the North of the Nile delta, about halfway between Alexandria in the West and Port Said in the East. The lenght measures about 50 kilometers and the with between 5 and 15 kilometers. The shallow brakish lake is separated from the Mediterranean Sea only by the beach – which is at the narrowest place about 600 meters wide.

Lake Burullus is certainily not one of the top destinations for a traveler coming to Egypt – but when I saw it for the first time a few years back, I became interested in the very special type of sailboat the fishermen were using. I just had the impression that such tiny boats without any kind of keel would simply have to turn over once the wind caught the giant sails.

Now I took the chance to go there and see what happens with these boats. I can confirm that they don't turn over but I still don't know why…

The time of old Deutz and Bedford trucks in Egypt appears to slowly come to an end. It is not too often anymore that you see those old sturdy “workhorses” and I fear that in a rather short time from now they will all have been replaced by modern types of trucks. I think I will miss the view of them.

2017 July, Egypt, the Fayoum

It was not only the Lake Burullus which had attracted me but also some other lakes – those of the Fayoum. The biggest one is Lake Qarun, the remnant of the much larger ancient Lake Moeris.

Wikipedia states the following:

Lake Moeris (Ancient Greek: Μοῖρις, genitive Μοίριδος) is an ancient lake in the northwest of the Faiyum Oasis, 80 km (50 mi) southwest of Cairo, Egypt. In prehistory, it was a freshwater lake, with an area estimated to vary between 1,270 km² (490 mi²) and 1,700 km² (656 mi²).
It persists today as a smaller saltwater lake called Birket Qarun. The lake's surface is 43 m (140 ft) below sea-level, and covers about 202 square kilometres (78 sq mi).

What a giant lake it must have been in its time!

There are plenty of “visitworthy” locations around the Fayoum and Lake Qarun, some of which are shown in below photographs:

Wadi el-Hitan, the “Whale Valley” is a very impressive site. Millions of years ago this area was a shallow lagoon and witness of these days are the fossilized sceletons of countless “whales” – actually they were the acestors of today's whales.

What impressed me most in this area is how it was kept and presented to the visitor. The visitor centre consists of some very tastefully built buildings and a magnificent new museum which is half burried into the soil. I really loved to stay at this place and can only congratulate those who planned and constructed it!

But finally – I have to admit that I liked most to stay in the desert. It was just a very short time but I could thoroughly enjoy it. Most stunning landscape and our driver Mohammed an absolutely skilful driver! These two days at the end of my stay in Egypt were really worth the journey itself.

Many thanks to Tarek el-Mahdi, Dorothee Rieche and Mohammed – that was all just what I hoped to see and experience in your Country.

2017 July, The Company of Saint George

Adrian von Bubenberg is about to finish his second term as bailiff on Lenzburg, and is looking forward to return to Berne. But before he leaves the castle to his successor, he wants to demonstrate to the townspeople of Lenzburg, that Berne has come, conquered and intents to stay.

Thus men at arms practice their skills, and the rest of the camp falls in with the display of Bernese power and wealth. Come and visit us, the camp is open to visitors from Friday 28th to Sunday 30 July, daily 10-17h

That's the announcement on the website of the Company of Saynt George. In fact this “living-history-group” exists since 25 years and they display (or “re-enact”) a small artillery company dating back to the period of Charles the Bold (1467-1477)

I took the chance to visit them at the Schloss Lenzburg and found some noteworthy things:

  • Guns at that time were also “breach loaders” not only the old fashioned “muzzle loaders” – that means that the poder could be prepared in advance and allowed a considerably faster rate of fire. I did not know that such guns existed at that time before.
  • The hand guns of that time do neither look good nor were they any good, in particular they were not accurate at all. The only thing they could really do good was Noise & Smoke.
  • The *Shoes” used in the 15th. century had only leather soles – no profile at all. Difficult to walk up hill, difficult in winter time, difficult on wet surface and difficult to keep them water thight. I am happy that we can choose from other shoes nowadays – although there are still plenty of crappy shoes available one should actually not buy.
  • Trousers of that time were neither comfortable nor practical nor anything good. Whilst Skyths, Germans and Celts had used real trousers more than a thousand years before… they were considered as “barbaric” by the romans and even banned. Whyt was then used in the 15. Century was a development of “legings” which were an intermediate step on the re-invention of real and practical trousers as we know them today. They were made of wool (which I think is not the best material for trousers) and they were connected to the jacket with an number of strings – which was the possibly most un-practical method to hold trousers. But this is as it was…. and if we look around today, seeing the boys with “trousers down” we may ask ourselfes if we are still on the right path. Fashion. Not to be discussed here.

So. Small things I have learned which are not described in contemporary reports and history-books. You can only see them with the “living history groups” and find it our by talking to them. It was a nice day.

31.07.2017 11:26 | Kuno Gross

2017 June - Lissunov Li-2

When I was in Budapest last year I have missed to see the Goldtimer Foundation's Lissunov Li-2.

The Li-2 is a licence built version of the Douglas DC-3 manufactured in the widely used as an airliner, also in Hungary with the former national carrier Malev. The Goldtimer Foundation's Li-2 ist the last airworthy machine of this type! And only this was reason enough to try to get a flight with it.

We took off from Budaörs, flew for about half an hour to land on a small private airfield. There we had a “rest”, took a lot of photos and once it was time we flew just back to Budaörs, the former International Airport of Budapest.

Now I could write endles and enthusiastic statements – I won't. But very clear: If you are going to Hungary one day, you should definitely not miss to have a flight with with this unique aircraft!

Swastika over the Aegean, Churchill's Folly & Air Battle over Malta
Swastika over the Aegean, Churchill's Folly & Air Battle over Malta

Anthony Rogers

Swastika over the Aegean, Churchill's Folly & Air Battle over Malta

Tony Rogers with whom I am in contact since many years (and whom I have still not met in person…) is not only “The” specialist if it comes to the WWII-campaigns in the Aegean but has also written about the air battle over Malta. Have a look at his books and I am sure that you won't be disappointed – I myself will for sure have a much closer look again on his “Aegean books” before I will travle to these islands one day (which is hopefully rather soon…)

Have a look at Anthony's books!

Bombenangriff auf die Brücken von Koblenz
Bombenangriff auf die Brücken von Koblenz - Februar 1945

Kuno Gross & Rudolf Meier

Bombenangriff auf die Brücken von Koblenz - Februar 1945

On February 16. 1945 bombs fell on the village where I was born. I recall the stories told when I was a boy… but now we thought it would really be time to research the topic in depth and found a fascinating new subject for a little book… the other projects are postponed at the moment so that there is sufficient time to complete this one until the end of the year.

Koblenz - Kulturnacht 2017

In May we had attended the “Kulturnacht 2017” in the vilage of Koblenz. Actually it is a regional event taking place every two years where local artists present their skills and works. This year, in Koblenz, it took place on an island in midst of the river Rhine – a spectacular and also “romantic” environment for such an event.

It is obvious that our book about the bombing raid on the bridges of Koblenz in February 1945 did not really match the “artistic environment”. We were really sceptical on how the visitors would see our presence in this event – but these thoughts were all wrong. Except for the weather all went perfectly well. We got a lot of response from people who had already read the book and also a lot of interest of others. It is really something good for an author to have the direct contact to the readers of his book; in particular if the readers did like it.

16.06.2017 12:15 | Kuno Gross