Ushuaia. It was the
first flight ever made over Tierra del Fuego; and Pluschow was deeply
moved by the extraordinary beauty of the landscape seen from his
airplane as well as the feat of a lifelong dream he had just accomplished.
The flyer was greeted by the governor of Ushuaia, to whom he delivered
the first sack of air mail in the region. The whole city celebrated
and honored Pluschow the pilot. The next day, he started out on
his return trip to Punta Arenas, but strong winds blocked his progress,
the biplane ran out of fuel, and Pluschow had to make an unplanned
stopover on the uninhabited island of Dawson. Luck was on side,
though. After a day, he managed to locate an abandoned warehouse
and enough fuel to finish his return trip to Punta Arenas where
the population was beginning to worry about the delay.
For 3 years, Pluschow, enamored of the region, defied all types
of dangers and challenges to fly over all the corners of Tierra
del Fuego. He flew as far as the Cabo de Hornos and also over the
Andean mountain range north of Lake Viedma. He also flew over the
continental ice sheets and the Perito Moreno glacier. All the while,
he filmed thousands of feet of film, taking hundreds of pictures
and writing his articles for the Ullstein Publishing house. With
time, an ongoing economic crisis in Germany took a heavy toll on
his financial support., and Pluschow had to make great sacrifices
as well as rely heavily on his legendary ingenuity to keep flying.
He even went so far as to lay out a canvas sheet under the engine
of his Heinkel. For lack of spare parts, he was not able to do the
proper maintenance and the canvas was one way to insure his motor
against loosing critical pieces. Other times, Pluschow´s neighbors
would warn him of the local authorities that came to inspect the
safety of his flying machine. He would then rapidly cruise over
to another region from where he would continue flying.
On the 29 of January,
while flying over Lago Rico near the Moreno glacier, Pluschow´s
airplane, which had suffered some damages earlier as a result of
an emergency aqua-landing, fractures a wing section and free-falls
over the lake. Many of the locals watched aghast the planes
fateful plunge and in which Pluschow and Dreblow died that day.
However, the memory of their deeds and courage would prove far more
resilient than the aircraft they flew. It endures today, among Argentines
and Chileans who remember them with much affection and gratitude.
Pluschow was an aviation pioneer in one of the worlds most
inhospitable regions the world can offer. Thanks to Plushcow, the
Patagonia was able to begin developing air traffic, so necessary
for overcoming the isolation, the vast distances, the problems with
communications and transportation in Patagonia. Without daring and
brave men like Pluschow, the Patagonia would still be a wind-blown,
desolate region at the end of the world.
work, his resourcefulness, and, ultimately, the spirit of adventure
with which he flew and took risks flying supplies, reconnoitering,
making documentals and photographic records of the region, was an
invaluable contribution. He exemplified most faithfully an ancient
legacy of discovery and exploration that in his day was rapidly
coming to a close. In a world where unknown lands are part of history
only, and where technology and global sponsors count far more than
personal initiative and imagination, Pluschow´s feats are
still very much alive in Patagonia - where he is honored as one
of their own.