When German glider pioneer Otto Lilienthal died in a flying accident in 1896, an Austrian named Ignaz Etrich acquired two of his gliders. Etrich went on to build many of his own designs, improving, but not entirely deviating from the bird-like forms of his predecessor. The first Taube (meaning Dove) flew in 1910.
The Taube was stable in flight, which made it very attractive to the airborne sportsmen of the time. Built by over fifty manufacturers in hundreds of configurations, the Taube was the most common type of airplane seen in the skies over pre-war in Germany and Austria. This example, a Taube built by Edmund Rumpler's company in Germany, represents a type built in great numbers just before the beginning of World War I.
For the first months of the conflict, Taubes flew with the Central Powers armies in the role of scout aircraft. As new Allied aircraft began arriving at the front, the unarmed Taubes began to seem frighteningly unmaneuverable and sickening slow to their German flyers. The Taube was soon transferred to the role of training student aviators.
The Museum's aircraft was built by master craftsman Art Williams and completed in 1984. It carries a rare, original Mercedes D.IIIa engine.