The L 319 – a vigilant veteran at the airfield.

The L 319 serves as the tower

In the middle of the action: Although the Mercedes-Benz L 319 was built between 1956 and 1968, it remains a reliable partner today. For example: at the glider airfield.

The L 319 as tower.

The hot sun mixes with the gentle wind blowing across the Reiselfingen glider airfield in the Black Forest. There is a clattering sound as the winch draws the glider into the take-off position. Jürgen is responsible for the air traffic control, he sits in the tower between a telephone, documents and a laptop. The display flickers on and shows good weather conditions for the day. Yet Jürgen is not sitting in a typical tower found airport. He is sitting in a glass turret mounted on an L 319, which is parked on a nearby hill. The L 319 is covered in dents and the blue paintwork is flaking off in some places. Nevertheless, the delivery van has spent its 25 year “retirement” working at the airfield.

The Reiselfingen glider airfield in the Black Forest

A sailplane from the Black Forest glider club.

A loyal companion at the airfield.

The L 319 is not street-legal. The association’s chairman, Markus Halbig, says: “It barely has to drive more than a kilometer at any time. It still manages that without any problems even though it would definitely not pass a vehicle inspection anymore.” On hot days, benches are placed next to the L 319, which provides a shady spot at the airfield. The atmosphere at the airfield is friendly and fun. “A flight club only works when everyone is willing to lend a hand.”

The L 319 serves as the tower

The Mercedes-Benz L 319 at the glider airfield.

The Mercedes-Benz 813 helps with the take-off.

The L 319 is not the only classic vehicle at the airfield. An old Mercedes-Benz 813 launches the gliders with a winch. The glider is connected to the cable and the winch on the 813 winds up the cable, slowly pulling the glider into the air. Jürgen climbs out of the tower and into the driver’s seat. A warm summer day is coming to an end. The L 319 slowly rolls into the hangar after a day’s work while the grass outside is mowed. “The V-belt will be replaced tomorrow morning. It will be good weather for flying again,” says Jürgen, while the hangar is locked up.

The Mercedes-Benz L 319 in Reiselfingen in the Black Forest

The view from the tower of the L 319.

The Mercedes-Benz 813 helps to launch gliders

A successful take-off thanks to the 813.

Sailplane above the clouds

Above the clouds: White sailplane from the Black Forest glider club.

The old Mercedes-Benz 813 with a cable winch.

The 813 with its winch helps to launch gliders.

White sailplane

White sailplane from the Black Forest glider club.

Photos: Sailplane Club Reiselfingen

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