Saturday, 18 February 2012

Capt. Elmer Saeger

Andre Padrut introduced us to a man called Elmer Saeger who worked for the Crown Prince of Bahrain. At that time Elmer was setting up the BDF (Bahrain Defence Force) new Helicopter Wing. Previously Elmer was a test pilot with MBB (Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm) and he and Carl their engineer were on a sales trip around the Middle East when for their company in the late 1970’s. During this sales trip the Crown Prince of Bahrain was so impressed with the aircraft he ordered 3 x MBB Bo 105 helicopters, 2 for the BDF regular use and a VIP version for himself. The condition of the order was the Elmer and Carl came and worked in Bahrain to train the Bahraini’s in MBB technology.
Some years later in 1991 the later versions of the MBB were absorbed into the Eurocopter project.
Both Elmer and Carl stayed in Fawaz Gardens which was a housing compound owned by the Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed (brother of our partner Rashid). Andre had designed and built this compound some years earlier for Sheikh Mohammed. 
One day Elmer paged us and when we called him he asked us to pop over to his home that afternoon. He was in a fuss as the Crown Prince had given him a red Ferrari Boxer as a present and being German, Elmer was not sure what to do with such a car, so we got conscripted into becoming Elmer’s advisors on his Ferrari. 
In those days Ferrari’s like Lamborghini and other exotic cars were not practical for the heat and day-to-day use in Bahrain. They fouled their spark plugs too often and were constantly in need of tuning and nearly always overheated driving around town. The air conditioning was also pretty poor, especially if the engine was running too hot. 
Elmer became good friend to Bob and I and we got to know him and Carl (who lived opposite him) very well over the years.
Elmer was keen to get back to Germany after the first couple of years in Bahrain so as not to lose touch with developments at MBB but the Crown Prince wanted him to stay. There was also pressure from the Amir, Sheikh Isa, who did not like flying at the best of times, for Elmer to always be on standby and be in the VIP Bo 105 whenever the Crown Prince flew himself.  So he was in a pretty difficult position and he ended up staying much longer than he anticipated.

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