View Full Version : Bf 109 pilot Franz Stigler and B-17 pilot Charlie Brown's first meeting

Dec-07-2012, 11:58

Published on Nov 14, 2012

This never-before-seen film was taken when JG 27 Bf-109 ace Franz Stigler met American 379th Bomb Group B-17 pilot Charlie Brown for the first time since their encounter during World War II!

In the video, Franz describes how his Bf 109 approached Charlie's heavily damaged B-17F "Ye Olde Pub", why he didn't shoot them down, and the incredible emotions behind meeting on this day, some 47 years later.

After watching this video be sure to check out the upcoming book "A Higher Call," that tells the true story, for the first time ever, of Franz Stigler, Charlie Brown, and their wartime experiences!

Learn more here: http://www.ValorStudios.com/a-higher-call

About Franz Stigler:
Franz Stigler started flying gliders at age 12 and soloed in a bi-plane in 1933. He joined Lufthansa, becoming an Airline Captain, before joining the Luftwaffe in 1940. There, he became an instructor pilot, with one of his students being Gerhard Barkhorn, who would later become the second highest scoring Ace in history with over 300 victories.

Franz transferred to Bf 109 fighter aircraft upon learning of the loss of his brother August, who died piloting a bomber shot down over the English Channel. Franz flew combat in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Western Europe. He served as a Squadron Commander of three squadrons (Numbers 6, 8, and 12, of JG 27) and twice a Wing Commander, all flying Bf 109 fighters.

Franz formed EJG-1, possibly the first ever pre-jet training squadron before being hand picked as the Technical Officer of Gen. Adolf Galland's elite JV 44, "Squadron of Experts," flying the Me-262 jet.

Franz was credited with 28 confirmed victories and over thirty probables. He flew 487 combat missions, was wounded four times, and was shot down seventeen times, four by enemy fighters, four by ground fire, and nine times by gunners on American bombers. He bailed out six times and rode his damaged aircraft down eleven times.

He emigrated to Canada in 1953 and became a successful businessman. In addition to his many Luftwaffe decorations, Franz was presented with the "Order of the Star of Peace" by the Federation of Combattant Allies En Europe for his act of compassion on December 20, 1943. He is believed to be the only Luftwaffe pilot to be so recognized. Franz was also made an honorary member of the 379th Bomb Group Association. Our friend, Franz, died in 2008 at the age of 93.

About Charlie Brown:
Charlie Brown graduated as a US Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. in April 1943. He arrived in England in early November 1943 as a B-17 pilot/aircraft commander and was wounded twice in completing 29 bomber combat missions out of 31 attempts (24 over Germany proper) with the famed 379th Bomb Group. He then delivered fighters and bombers, and flew transports from North Ireland to the United Kingdom until becoming a B-17 instructor pilot stateside. Itching to return to duty overseas, Charlie became a C-54/C-87 pilot and flew in the CBI theatre until the end of the war.
After retiring from the Air Force as a Lt. Colonel, Charlie accepted an appointment as a Senior Foreign Service Reserve Officer, serving for six years throughout Laos and Vietnam during the Vietnam War. After thirty years of government service he retired in 1972 and formed a combustion research company. In 1992 he was recognized by the Governor of West Virginia (Charlie's home state) with the "Distinguished West Virginia Award," both for his government service and research career. He was awarded a symbolic "Governor's Medal" by Governor Jeb Bush on October, 2001.

Charlie's most prestigious honor was belatedly bestowed by the USAF in February 2008, when he was awarded the Air Force Cross (second only to the Medal of Honor) for bringing his badly damaged B-17 home to England during his December 20, 1943 mission. Our friend, Charlie, died in November 2008 at the age of 86

Dec-07-2012, 13:34
A movie about this story! Ahh thanks :thumbsup:

Here is the story by the way http://www.military.com/Content/MoreContent1/?file=dday_0033p1


Dec-07-2012, 13:59
That was great. Thanks for sharing!

Dec-08-2012, 10:49
Thanks for sharing that interview. First time I've seen it.

Buzzsaw if you're reading this, do you recall what was the nature of Franz Stigler's "successful business" while he was in Canada? Just curious.

Just before Franz Stigler died I was in a back room at Langley's Canadian Museum of Flight reading through material on the Handley Page Hampden and came across Mr. Stigler's name in a book check out list. After asking a few questions it turned out that he was a supporter of the museum at the time.

Here's an interesting excerpt from the year of his death copied from a Boundary Bay Flying Club bulletin:

"Research showed that Charlie Brown lived in Seattle and Franz
Stigler had moved to Vancouver, BC after the war. When they
finally met, they discovered they had lived less than 200 miles
apart for the past 50 years!
Brian Williams, BBFC Director
At an Abbotsford Airshow in the 1980's, I saw Franz Stigler fly
in with his ME 108 Taifun (I think he kept it at Langley then),
with camouflage and Luftwaffe markings . During one flyby
display, his Taifun was piloted in a low and over flyby by another
Abbotsford attendee, Ernie Gann, the great aviation writer,
who then lived near Friday Harbour. Franz would answer
questions from pilot viewers (in the halcyon days when the
public could get right up to performers on the flight line) and
you could see the long scar crease on the side of his forehead
he received from a gunner on that same B-17. There were
amazing circumstances on both sides in both pilots making it
back to base, and this story eventually breaking.
Franz Stigler passed away on March 8th, 2008.
More than 40 years later,
Charlie Brown wanted to
find the Luftwaffe pilot who
saved the crew. After years of
research, Franz was found. They
met in the USA at a 379th Bomber
Group reunion, together with 25
people who are alive now - all
because Franz never fired his
guns that day."

Stigler's favorite airplane: Heinkel 70


Dec-09-2012, 03:22
Wow. What a story. It brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing. :salute: