Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

Pioneer reborn

Junkers A50 Heritage

In 2023, Junkers Aircraft, the boutique German maker of retro-themed aircraft that roll out of the factory looking like collector's items, all carrying the lines and heritage of Hugo Junkers into the present, introduced the A50 Junior—the original metal monoplane—with modern avionics, and a modern engine that required a compromise.

Photo courtesy of Junkers.

“With the A50 Junior fitted with the latest in economical and reliable powerplants, it forced a redesign of the nose and engine cowling. The most prominent feature of the aircraft was not faithful to the architect’s original form. With the A50 Heritage, we have meticulously captured the essence of Hugo Junkers’ imaginative and original design,” the company said in a press release.

Clearly, not all customers or potential customers were fans of the changed visual aspect of the A50 Junior and the resulting deviation from the original.

So out with the new, in with the old. In the A50 Heritage, as Junkers named its 2024 model, analog gauges have replaced the A50 Junior's digital versions, and a Scarlett 7U radial engine made by Verner Motor in the Czech Republic helps restore the original nose profile.

Analog gauges and the two-piece windscreen round out the faithful redisign. Photo courtesy of Junkers.

“The sound is definitely something we wanted to capture,” said Marshall Haglund, Junkers Aircraft’s marketing manager, in a conversation with AOPA Senior Vice President of Media and Marketing Kollin Stagnito. It’s projected to deliver 124 horsepower. MT Propeller crafted a wood propeller for the new-old Junior, with an antique stain and off-white tips.

Based on archival footage, the two-piece, split-glass windscreen as well as the spun-aluminum wheel pants have been refashioned to round out the faithful retro-redesign. The Heritage has a projected price of $299,000.

“Between the price, the LSA category, and overall aesthetic, we are appealing to the aviator who wants to stay firmly connected to aviation history and put their passion on display in an unmistakably golden-age piece of flying art. These are men and women who seek out the exquisite and the collectable. The A50 Heritage, to many, is both,” Haglund wrote in an email. He added that the aircraft is expected to appeal to pilots with “a few ponies already in the stable,” who treasure something that stands out from the run-of-the-mill aircraft. According to Haglund, Junkers is processing several letters of intent.

The A50 Heritage, like the original Junior, offers tandem seating and is flown from the back seat. For long hauls, some of the pioneering pilots fitted a ferry tank to the front seat, turning the aircraft into a single-seater. And finally, the Heritage, like all Junkers aircraft, is made of the famed corrugated metal, which lends strength to the oval fuselage. 

Junkers’ vision for the Junior was “a sports car of the air.” Aimed at the wealthy middle class, he wanted to offer the kind of mass transportation that could compete with automobiles. The original Junior, the world’s first all-metal aircraft, attracted some record-breaking aviators. In 1930, Japanese sports pilot Seiji Yoshihara, the "Lone Eagle of Japan," flew it 11,000 km (68972.2023 miles) solo from Berlin to Tokyo. In 1931, Marga von Etzdorf became the first woman to make the same trip in her bright yellow Junior. In 1933, Väinö Bremer, a Finnish biathlete and captain in the Finnish Air Force, flew a Junior from Helsinki to Cape Town, South Africa, and back.

It's that pioneering feeling that moved Junkers Aircraft president Dieter Morszeck to get back to the roots of the Junior for a “true rebirth of the original,” according to the company’s brochure. 

The model shown at the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo in Lakeland, Florida, and Aero Friedrichshafen in Germany was not quite ready to fly, but Haglund said that flight testing should be completed by the end of 2024. He added that EASA certification is anticipated in the first half of 2025, followed by FAA certification later that year.

Sylvia Schneider Horne
Digital Media Editor
Sylvia Schneider Horne is a digital media editor for AOPA's eMedia division.
Topics: Vintage, Light Sport Aircraft

Related Articles