Ludwig made his first flight at the age of seven when a friend of his father took him up in a powered glider at the Hangarfest in Gmunden. From that moment, it was clear that flying would be his passion. As for aspiration, he knew exactly what he wanted to be: a pilot.
After taking an apprenticeship as a cook and waiter, he spent several busy summers at the Wolfgangsee lake. It was here he first came into contact with The Flying Bulls seaplane, and ‘flying the caravan’ was instantly added to his bucket list of flying wishes. The list also included:
- working as a pilot in the African bush
- flying in the Himalayas and to Mount Everest
- flying single-handedly across the Atlantic in a single-engine aeroplane, like Lindbergh
- last but not least, to join The Flying Bulls
Eventually he gained his pilot’s licence – and it was time to start working through the list. First he headed for Botswana to spend three years as a bush pilot operating tourist and medical flights before joining the World Food Programme in Nepal for the UN. In this role he made regular landings at Lukla, the airport at the foot of Mount Everest. In the course of his mission, he was also engaged twice to transfer a single-engine Cessna to Nepal – a trip he made from Canada, thereby ticking off his Lindbergh wish, not once but twice. After five years, Ludwig moved back to civilisation, spending a decade flying a long-haul private jet before taking another look at the wish list. There were still things outstanding so he returned to Salzburg, this time with an application to The Flying Bulls in his luggage.
These days, Ludwig mainly flies private jets, the Cessna 208 Amphibian ‘Caravan’ (which reminds him of his Wolfgangsee vow to stay true to his goals) and the B-25 Mitchell, which has fascinated him since his youth. And what of his list of flying wishes, which he has now completed? The list actually gets updated each time there is a new addition to The Flying Bulls fleet.
1. Can you remember your first flight as a pilot?
LR: I was seven years old when I had my first flight. A friend of my father took me up in a powered glider at the Hangarfest in Gmunden.
2. How many flying hours have you racked up?
LR: Around 8,500 hours as things stand (January 2023).
3. F-22 or Corsair? Airbus 380 or B-25?
LR: The Corsair and the B25.
4. If you could fly any aeroplane, what would you choose and why?
LR: The Catalina flying boat, partly because of the extraordinary shape of its fuselage, partly because of the option of landing on water or solid ground, and partly because of the radial engines and the sound they make.
5. Is there any technical or design detail about your aircraft that you find especially fascinating?
LR: I am most interested by the technology of both the radial engines and the modern turbines – the interaction of mechanical components never fails to captivate.
6. Bearing in mind the age of the aircraft, have you ever experienced an uneasy feeling when climbing into the cockpit or during a flight?
LR: No, never. The Flying Bulls technicians are some of the best around, and some of our aeroplanes are in better condition now than when we took delivery of them.
7. What was the most turbulent flight you have ever had?
LR: That would be a flight in the Himalayas in a Twin Otter, coming back to Kathmandu from Lukla, the airport for Everest.