Gunther Plüschow

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Colonel Plüschow

Gunther Plüschow (born on February, 8 1886 in Munich, Germany is a German aviator, aerial explorer and colonial adminstrator. Known as the Aviator of Tsingtau, he is best known for his incredible escape from China to Germany passing through Britain, and his explorations of Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, in Argentina. He is the current Commander-in-Chief of the AOG Colonial Air Force.



Plüschow's adventure

In January 1896, at the age of 10, Plüschow entered the Military School and in 1901 he joined the German Marines as a naval cadet. Through discipline and conscious effort, he stood out in his studies. During his training, Plüschow came across a postcard of a steamship anchored off the coast of Tierra del Fuego. This awoke his lifelong interest in exploring the southernmost tip of South America and would be the main motive for his subsequent achievements.

In 1905, Gunther Plüschow now a marine in the Imperial German Army, made his first cruise aboard the ship Luitpolt Prince and then the S-87 where he stood out in both duty assignments. His buried daring and restless spirit drove him to enter the Rumpler Aviation School. Upon graduation, he was posted to Tsingtau, China as a Marine Reconnaissance Aviator. After an ultimatum on August 15 Japan declared war on Germany and Tsingtau was besieged by the Japanese, beginning the Weltkrieg in Asia. Soon the situation in Tsingtau proved untenable, and on November 5 Plüschow fled in his Taube, with a packet of secret documents, bound for Hai-Daschou. He landed there, burnt his airplane so that it cannot be used by the enemy, and sets off for Germany on foot.

Escape from China

He walked to the city of Daschou, where the local mandarin gave a party for him. He managed to finagle a passport to cross China as well as a junk, which he uses to journey down a river, passing dozens of colorful towns along the way, finally arriving safely at Nanking. He soon felt that he was being watched, even by officials friendly to Germany. After almost being arrested, he leapt in a rickshaw and sped to the railway station, where he bribed a guard and slipped on a train to Shanghai.

In Shanghai, he met the daughter of a diplomat he knew from Berlin, and she obtained papers, money, and a ticket on a ship leaving for the United States. During the voyage to the United States, Plüschow hid in his cabin, pretending to be sick. He landed in Los Angeles, but felt unsafe, so he took a train up to San Francisco, and in January 1915 journeyed across the country to New York City. He was afraid to approach the German consulate there, for fear of being arrested. Worse, he read in the newspaper a report that he was presumed to be in New York City.

His luck, not to mention his female friends, saved him again: he met a lady from Berlin who managed to get him tickets for a ship that left on January 30 for Italy, from where he hoped to reach Germany. However, a storm forced his ship to land at Gibraltar, where the English arrested him, suspecting he was an enemy alien. They soon discovered he was the famous aviator from Tsingtau.

Escape from London

On July 1 he was sent to a prisoner of war camp in England, but three days later during a storm he escaped and headed for London. Scotland Yard issued an alert, asking the public to be on the lookout for a man with a dragon tattoo on his arm.

Now disguised as a worker, Plüschow felt so safe that he took photographs of himself as a souvenir in the docks of London. He occupied himself reading books about Patagonia, and at night hid inside the British Museum. For security reasons, there were no published notices announcing the departure of the ships but a lucky encounter with Kitty, another one of his many lady friends, allowed him to obtain the necessary information to get on board the Princess Juliana, bound for Netherlands. He arrived safely and from there he quickly traveled to Germany.

Plüschow is acclaimed as "the hero from Tsingtau," decorated, and named commander of the marine base at Libau in Germany. Pluschöw married in June 1916. There he also wrote his first book, The Adventures of the Aviator From Tsingtau, which sild more than 700,000 copies. In 1918, his son Guntolf was born. After the Weltkrieg, he was decorated of the prestigious Pour le Mérite by the Kaiser Wilhelm II. He was awarded the honorary rank of Colonel within the new Luftstreitkräfte by Manfred von Richthofen in 1925.

Exploration in La Plata Also (Argentina)

Having expressed many times in his life the desire to explore Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, he decided to fulfill his dreams by going to Argentina. On November 27, 1927 Plüschow took the wooden two-masted cutter Feuerland to Punta Arenas, Chile. His engineer Ernst Dreblow brought his seaplane, a Heinkel HD 24 D-1313 aboard a steamer. By December 1928 the airplane had been fully assembled and the inaugural flight brought the first air mail from Puntas Arenas to Ushuaia, Argentina. In the subsequent months Plüschow and Debrow were the first to explore by air the Cordillera Darwin, Cape Horn, the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, and the Torres del Paine of Patagonia. In 1929, to get back to Germany Plüschow had to sell the Feuerland. Upon his return, he published his explorations and photographs in the book Silberkondor über Feuerland and a documentary of the same name.

Return to China

In 1930, with his considerable prestige, then Governor-General of the Allgemeine Ostasiatische Gesellschaft Hans von Seeckt asked to Plüschow to be the nominal Commander-in-Chief of the small but well-trained Colonial Air Force stationned there. Plüschow, wanting to return to the country where he had found his glory, cancelled a new trip to Patagonia and happily came back to Tsingtau: during his trip throughout China, he was welcomed and applaused by the crowds, German settlers as Chinese natives. Now living in Southern China, he assumes the training of the German and Chinese fighter pilots, often dreaming of new adventures, and continuing the writing of further journey books.

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