20 euro - The Advent of Powered Flight
Series: Austria - Reaching for the Sky
Reaching for the Sky celebrates the story of manned flight, from the first fearless pioneers to the crowded skies of today. The Advent of Powered Flight, the second coin in the series, celebrates the pioneers of powered aviation, including Igo Etrich, who broke records in 1910 by flying for 140km across northern Austria, and Charles Lindbergh, who became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1927. Humans have envied the birds’ ability to fly through the air since the dawn of civilisation, which is no doubt why our feathered friends were the inspiration for much early aircraft design. That was until Bohemian aviation pioneer Igo Etrich began basing his designs on the aerodynamics of the seed of a tropical plant called Zanonia macrocarpa found on the island of Java. On falling to the ground the seeds generate lift, which slows their descent and helps them remain aloft. By adding a 60-horse power engine to an aircraft with zanonia-shaped wings, Etrich managed to fly the ‘Dove’ from Vienna to the northern town of Horn and back. Even more impressive was the 33-hour non-stop solo flight from New York to Paris by a young man named Charles Lindbergh in the ‘Spirit of St Louis’, a fabric-covered, single engine seater, monoplane. This 1927 flight is commemorated on the coin’s obverse in the form of a globe on which the two cities are linked by an arc; Igo Etrich’s Dove can be seen in the foreground. The coin’s reverse features a Junkers 52, which, despite initial scepticism about its airworthiness due to its ungainly appearance, became an early stalwart of air passenger transport.