- Category : 1900-births
- Type : ME
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Migration 1
German gliding pioneer and sailplane designer who was a co-founder of Schempp-Hirth, still a renowned glider manufacturer.
Hirth was the son of an engineer and tool-maker. He was the younger brother of Hellmuth, who founded the famous Hirth aircraft engine manufacturing company.
As a young man, Hirth took up gliding and was soon drawn to the Wasserkuppe, then the focus of the German gliding movement, earning his pilot's licence in 1920. In 1924, Hirth lost a leg after a motorcycle accident. From then on, he would fly while wearing a wooden prosthesis.
In 1928, he graduated from the Technical University of Stuttgart with a diploma in engineering and began to focus on aircraft construction. Over the next decade, he would also tour the world, promoting gliding throughout Europe, the United States, Japan, South America, and South Africa.
He was the chief flying instructor at the Grünau Gliding School in the Riesengebirge mountains, then in Germany. In 1933, he became the Head of the new Gliding School in Hornberg.
Later in the year, he became the first to correctly identify the phenomenon of wave lift, the highest form of lift source available to soaring pilots.
In January 1934, he joined Professor Georgii's South America expedition, along with Peter Riedel, Hanna Reitsch, and Heini Dittmar, to study thermal conditions, with his sailplane "Moatzagotl". While in Argentina, Wolf set a record of seventy-six successive loops.
With the assistance of Wolf Hirth, Martin Schempp founded his own company in 1935: "Sportflugzeugbau Göppingen Martin Schempp". In 1938, Hirth, mainly responsible for the design work, officially became a partner in the company, which then took on the new name "Sportflugzeugbau Schempp-Hirth". Hirth continued to direct the firm throughout World War II.
He had a heart attack while flying his Vogt Lo-100 aerobatic glider on 25 July 1959 and died in the subsequent crash at age 59. His book Handbuch des Segelfliegens was published posthumously in 1963.