NOVA Online (see text links below)
Nazi Prison Escape

Fly the Glider Go to "Fly the Glider"

Flash plugin required

The Colditz Glider
by Rick Groleau

Of all the prisoner of war escapes that almost were, the one involving the Colditz glider is certainly among the most ingenious. Built secretly in an attic of Colditz castle, the glider was an airworthy craft, as clearly demonstrated by the replica featured in the NOVA program "Nazi Prison Escape." Many believe that, had the war not ended when it did, two POWs would have stood a decent chance at making a successful flight. (Whether they would have gotten away once they landed is another matter. For the challenges of making a clean getaway, see Escaping Colditz.)
  • Building the Colditz Glider
    Fashioning a flyable, two-person glider out of scavenged materials was no small feat. Find out how it was done.

  • Airfoil Aerodynamics
    So what keeps a flying machine in the air? Here's an explanation that describes how wings produce lift.

  • Fly the Glider
    Requires Flash Plugin
    Work the controls of the Colditz glider to learn about glider aerodynamics.
Note: The primary source for "Airfoil Aerodynamics" and "Fly the Glider" is Stick and Rudder by Wolfgang Langewiesche. Although this book was originally published in 1944, its explanations still hold up today.

Rick Groleau is managing editor of NOVA Online.

Escaping Colditz | The Jailor's Story | Great Escapes | The Colditz Glider
Resources | Transcript | Site Map | Nazi Prison Escape Home

Editor's Picks | Previous Sites | Join Us/E-mail | TV/Web Schedule
About NOVA | Teachers | Site Map | Shop | Jobs | Search | To print
PBS Online | NOVA Online | WGBH

© | Updated January 2001
Feedback Shop NOVA NOVA Site Map Search NOVA NOVA Nazi Prison Escape Nazi Prison Escape Nazi Prison Escape Nazi Prison Escape Site Map