Under the spell of the lenticularis, Joachim Küttner (21.9.1909 - 24.2.2011)
Dr. Joachim P. Kuettner in his UCAR office in Boulder, in 2000
He was already in his second life when he met his first mountain wave, above the Riesengebirge in the Silesian part of Germany. As he approached its sister in the American West, three lives were behind him.
Later he started number seven, when he embarked on solving the mystery of the mountain waves once and for all.
How many lives can one squeeze in a hundred years?
For Joachim Kuettner this question was without meaning, for he followed his instincts, pursued his passion and lived the life(s) he encountered.
His career started with legal work but the skies always called him. He began with the exploration of that strange up an down motion in the air and then moved on to testing heavy aircraft - from silent flight to thunderous motion he went.
That the atmosphere with its waves seduced him a second time was no miracle but rather a consequence of his curiosity. He came to the Sierra Nevada with more determination and better equipment. From the cockpit of a glider he looked the monster in the eye.
Science gained new knowledge out of this and he an altitude record in gliders.
As if this wasn't high enough he kept moving up higher still: he helped Wernher von Braun to shoot the first American into orbit.
After that he came back to Earth, back to science, that is. In global mission he investigated the workings of the atmosphere.
But lee waves and rotors didn't let him go just yet. Before he assembled another team to solve the last mysteries of turbulent and laminar flow behind mountains he promoted a vision which he had about 50 years ago during his spectacular wave cross country flight of 600km in an old training twoseater: to fly 2000km solely with the power of those wild winds.
It was this dream which brought him and us, the Mountain Wave Project, together. It fascinated him to see somebody chase his prize for the first 2000km straight-out wave flight in a way which he didn't anticipate. So he came to Berlin to discuss ideas, contribute experiences and reveal the latest in wave research.
When he finally handed over his prestigious award to Klaus Ohlmann in February of 2004 he intensified the exchange with us and raised the bar again.
Joachim Kuettner won't be able to present his prize for the first 2500km flight, he died on February 24 at the age of 101 in Longmont, Colorado.