50 years after the fatal crash in the Serengeti, East Africa of filmmaker and zoologist Michael Grzimek, the wreckage of the Dornier 27 airplane is being restored at the German Museum of Technology in Berlin (Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin DMTB). The famous wreck will be a part of the museum's permanent aviation exhibition from June 26th.
In November 2008 staff of the museum, in close co-operation with the Grzimek family and FZS collected the remaining sections of the wreckage in Tanzania and transported them to Nairobi airport. From there a Lufthansa Cargo aircraft took the parts to Berlin where they have been stored at the museum’s depot ever since.
When Bernhard and Michael Grzimek started their research in the East African savannah in the early fifties, they soon realised that an airplane was essential for their work. Father and son decided to buy a Dornier Do 27 aircraft, which at the time was mass produced for the German military. They bought a new plane from the factory and flew it down to Eastern Africa.
The distinctive black and white striped “zebra airplane” was an indispensable in estimating the size of wildebeest herds, as well as for filming the documentary “Serengeti shall not die”. They had just finished shooting the film when, on January 10th 1959, Michael collided with a vulture and crashed. Michael Grzimek, the sole person on board, died immediately.
The wreckage of the Dornier remained in the Serengeti for many years. During that time many souvenir hunters and locals took parts of the wreckage until no more than 10 percent of the original plane was left. A few years ago, FZS staff collected the remaining sections and stored them close to the FZS building at Ngorongoro Crater to prevent further destruction.
From June 26th, these remaining sections of the Dornier will be displayed at the Museum of Technology, to mark the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the world premier of their film “Serengeti shall not die”.