Ewald Rohlfs (born 23rd March 1911 in Gdansk, † 29th July 1984 in Bremen) was a German test pilot. Appointed 1944 captain, he was after the war a member of the “Traditionsgemeinschaft Alte Adler” (Tradition Community Old Eagle).
His name is closely associated with the development of the helicopter in Germany. The designer Henrich Focke had chosen him to test and fly in the helicopter he built (Focke-Wulf Fw 61). Rohlfs, who had joined in the company on 1st May 1935, made first flight on 26th June 1936, which, however, only lasted 28 seconds. Rohlfs was already more than an hour in the air a year later and managed to cover a distance of 16.4 kilometers. In June 1937, he took the two now existing helicopters all world records by Germany, with 1 hour 20 minutes duration, 2,440 meters above sea level, 122.5 kph speed and 80.6 km distance in a closed circuit. Earlier, on 10th May, 1937 he had switched off the engine in altitude of 400 meters and was still landed safely in autorotation, which he had demonstrated the functionality of this important device. When Focke soon after separated from his old company and founded a new (Focke-Achgelis), Rohlfs stayed behind and was then preoccupied with the test-flying and testing the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter plane. He also belonged to the guard Squadron for the factory, flying the Focke-Wulf Fw 187, initially later Fw 190. The further test flights with the Fw 61 at the new company were flown by Carl Bode and Hanna Reitsch.
After the war, Rohlfs was with Focke 1954-1957 in Brazil at the local center of aviation (Centro Tecnico de Aeronautica), where a helicopter should also be developed. Then both went to “Borgward” in Bremen, where she worked in the development of the helicopter project “Kolibri I” (=”Hummingbird I”). The first flight Rohlfs made on 1st July 1958. The trial dragged on length, so that it no longer came to the desired type certification because the company went bankrupt. Rohlfs moved now to “Henschel” in Kassel, where he was chief pilot and flight operations manager. In 1977 he retired and returned to Bremen, where he spent the last years of his life.
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