Quite by chance, I began looking through photographs of past events LAST NIGHT (!! -- no accident) and found many from the first Flying Wing Seminar, held in July of 1997, sponsored by the National Soaring Museum in Elmira, New York. Rudy was a speaker at that event and shared a bit about his flying a Horten IV flying wing -- first in Germany in the 1940s -- then later at a national soaring competition here at Hobbs, New Mexico, I believe, in the 1950s. He was leading the competition, but got lost on the 3rd or 4th day and had to 'land out', costing him a loss of precious points. But he proved the flying wing design was a very able competitor in capable hands. And with this particular German flying wing design, the pilot didn't sit 'upright'; he lay on his stomach in a prone position for several hours at a time, with head forward -- looking ahead through the plexiglass canopy. Rudy's recollection of the circumstances of that event was 'energetic' and captivating.
I'd met Rudy for the first time perhaps 15 years earlier, at the National Soaring Convention in Washington, D.C., where a group of us from the Vintage Sailplane Association interviewed Rudy and Peter Riedel in a hotel room about their experiences in WWII years. Especially Rudy flying the Me-163 in combat -- but focusing mostly on this unique flying wing fighter's characteristics and performance. Under rocket power, he described it like "holding on to a bullet", but then as a glider (when the rocket propellant was exhausted), he described its flying qualities as docile and gentle -- very easy and responsive in flight.
Rudy came to the Flying Wing Seminar with his son, Martin, as by then Rudy was experiencing some health challenges, so his son's presence was helpful and supportive. I recall that after his talk, Rudy got a well- deserved standing ovation from those gathered. Then, with many admiring friends from the soaring community around him, Rudy energetically engaged in conversation and graciously signed his autograph to photographs of him in several different books about the Me-163 aircraft. Rudy was a TRUE gentleman, and gave much to aviation -- one of the many passions of his life. He is missed. Recalled by Geoff Steele; Vintage Sailplane Assocation (VSA); May 3, 2020.