|Born||21 February 1915|
|Died||9 February 1975
On 26 April 1939 Fritz Wendel set the world air speed record of 469.22 mph, flying the Messerschmitt Me 209 V1. He defeated the record set on 30 March 1939 by Hans Dieterle flying the Heinkel He 100 V8. He was also the first pilot to fly a liquid rocket airplane in the Me 209 as well as a jet engine powered airplane in the Heinkel He 280. Relics of the Me 209 V1 still exist in the Polish Air Museum at Krakow.
On 18 July 1942 in Leipheim near Günzburg, Germany, Wendel test flew the Messerschmitt Me 262. This flight was significant as it was conducted with jet engines (Junkers Jumo 003) for the first time. The Me 262 had flown first on 8 April 1941 with piston engines.
On 5 September 1940, Flugkapitän Wendel, while performing a series of diving trials on Me 210 V2, Werknummer 0002, WL-ABEO, lost the starboard tailplane in the final dive and bailed out, the twin-engined fighter crashing at Siebentíschwald, Germany. This was the first of many losses of the type.
On 25 March 1942, Wendel took the first prototype Me 262V1, PC+UA, on its first jet-powered flight but the experimental BMW 003 gas turbine engines both failed and he was forced to limp the prototype airframe back to Augsburg on the nose-mounted Jumo 210 piston engine installed for initial airframe testing.
Wendel worked for Messerschmitt until the collapse of Nazi Germany in 1945.
After the war Wendel became director of a local brewery but continued flying sports planes until a circulatory ailment forced him out of the cockpit. A few days before his death he was released from hospital where he underwent treatment for the circulatory condition.
Wendel was found dead at his home in Augsburg, Germany, on Sunday 9 February 1975 with a hunting rifle at his side. Police said that relatives found his body but could not rule immediately whether his death was suicide or an accident. He was 59.
Wendel was survived by his wife and a 21-year old son.
- Green, William, "The Warplanes of the Third Reich", Galahad Books, New York, 1986, Library of Congress card number 86-80568, ISBN 88365-666-3, p. 611.
- Price, Dr. Alfred, "Messerschmitt Me 262: Missed Opportunity or Impossible Dream?", International Air Power Review, AIRtime Publishing Inc., Westport, Connecticut, 2007, ISBN 978-1-880588-99-4, p. 129.
- United Press International, "Jet Fighter Pioneer Pilot Dies in Germany", Playground Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, Monday 10 February 1975, Volume 29, Number 407, page 2A.
- Feist, Uwe. The Fighting Me 109. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1993, ISBN 1-85409-209-X.