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Dornier Wal: a Light coming from the Sea

31 March 2018

Dornier Wal: a Light coming from the Sea, M Michiel van der Mey. 2016, ISBN 978-88-97530-81-7, 272 pp.

Dornier Wal: a Light coming from the Sea by M Michiel van der Mey

Clause Dornier—flying boat designer par excellence—timely produced the Wal (whale) which enabled Europe and Africa to connect with South America by air in the pioneering days of aviation. The Wal also found its way deep into the South America’s hinterlands using the continent’s ubiquitous river systems. Indeed, the Wal is one of history’s most remarkable as well as wildly effective flying boat designs of the Golden Age of Aviation but it is hardly known in North America.


I’m sure Germany being on the losing end of Word War II may have a bit to do with it but also the intense competition for trans-Atlantic commercial aviation from the USA side likely had a heavyweight and overshadowing advantage. Not to besmirch or undervalue the accomplishments of Boeing, Martin, Sikorsky or von Trippe—the Wal was vital to South Atlantic commercial aviation while Britain and the USA were competing for North Atlantic route dominance.

What about the Wal, then? What is its history as well as its place in aviation’s history? Yes, what about Dornier and the Wal?

M. Michiel van der Mey has the answers and much more in, Dornier Wal: “a Light coming over the Sea” with this superbly written, thoroughly documented and researched book. Dornier Wal: “a Light coming over the Sea”  is chock full of photos with many of them marvelously showing the Wal being put to work as well as more than a few from private collections. The quote in the title is from an impactful communication, by-the-way.

In the telling of the Wal, van der Mey describes the engineering of the stoutly built Wal as well as the storied accomplishments of more than a few esteemed aviation explorers—many of their names are sadly otherwise fading into history’s mists as time flows on. We have much to thank van der Mey for in this book.

Now in its fourth edition, and wonderfully produced, this handsome book belongs in any library but is best suited to a front desk for its quality as well as integrity. Van der Mey has doggedly pursued the knowledge of the Wal and how it was used to accomplish feats from to mundane to the spectacular. He also spices the content with history of Clause Dornier and his other designs from the grandiloquent Do X (surprisingly it postdates the Wal) to the postmodern Seastar (a better amphibian for private or short hop aviation would be hard to obtain).

Find and purchase Dornier Wal: “a Light coming over the Sea”  here for flying boat history, for aviation’s history, for Clause Dorner’s history and for the history of brave explorers —you will be quite pleased.

Van der Mey also hosts the authoritative Dornier Wal Documentation Center.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Ricardo Reis permalink
    31 March 2018 09:58

    I fully recommend this book also 🙂

    A sad note, photos is the CMASA factory after demolishing. In this Italian plant several Dornier Wal were built to circunvent the Versailles treaty, including the Argus that did the first night crossing of the South Atlantic in 1927.

    destroying  Motofides

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      31 March 2018 18:07

      Yes, sad, and thank you for the news as well as images. Very kind of you.

  2. 31 March 2018 12:38

    Dornier made some really huge aircraft. The flying boat made sense for long over-water flights. If one had to land in the middle of the ocean, most of us would prefer to be in something designed to float.

    Somebody built a giant scale model of the 12-engine Dornier DO-X with a 4.8 meter wingspan. Beautiful detailing.

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      31 March 2018 18:03

      Yes, Charles, it’s marvelous 🙂 I recall reading about their flight to New York and they flew in ground effect for quite a long ways, eventually climbing t0 1200 feet. All the while the captain would call throttle settings back to the flight engineer. An amazing system.

  3. 31 March 2018 13:30

    Reblogged this on basheerabdulwahab.

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