Once upon a time there existed in Europe a competition for touring aircraft, one which evolved into the toughest aviation contest ever devised. The French came up with the idea, innocently called the Challenge International de Tourisme. The concept was interesting: it combined various tests for the pilots with trials and assessments of the aeroplanes they were flying, and was aimed at the growing private pilot community seeking advice on which aircraft to buy. At the 1929 Challenge, nobody suspected it would turn into a fierce battle between the Third Reich and Poland just five years later.
Airmen from several countries took part in the first edition, and with the benefit of hindsight it is interesting to see the name of Robert Lusser, the German engineer, on the entry list, flying a Klemm L25. Lusser later designed the Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun expressly to win the 1934 Challenge for the Nazis, and was then responsible for the Heinkel He 280 jet, Fieseler’s V1 ‘flying bomb’ and, after the war, many projects in the USA and Germany. The inaugural Challenge ended with a win for Germany, the very talented Friedrich-Wilhelm ‘Fritz’ Morzik — who was to command Luftwaffe transport aviation in World War Two — taking the spoils with a BFW M 23b, just ahead of Britain’s Hubert Broad in a de Havilland DH60G Moth. Thus, the Weimar Republic was to organise the next event. Its light aircraft industry was developing at a rapid rate, and the Germans expected to win in 1930.
To make life harde