There were several Bühl brothers, including at least two who were interested very early in aviation. Since they lived near Lake Constance, where Zeppelin was headquartered, they were often attending aviation-related events. Ernie would often tag-along with his older brothers. His oldest brother was Fritz, who, according to an interview* that Ernie gave later in his life, “was a mechanic involved in early airplane experiments in Germany.” (*article - Eddington’s Buehl Airfield Home to Oldtime Flying Dutchman.). We have located a wartime record, evidently dated 1914, that confirms Fritz then was assigned to the Luftstreitkräfte (Air Force), Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilungen Aviator spare department);bayer. Flieger-Ersatz - Abteilung 1 (Schleißheim) (Bavaria, Aviator replacement - Division 1 (Schleißheim)). Fritz remained in Germany following World War I, and ended up serving in the Nazi army during World War II. This photo (at the right) is dated 1936.
His second brother was Karl (photo at the left), who already in the Army, serving the the cavalry, when World War I started. Later in the war he was trained as a military pilot. Karl kept a wartime diary, which we have a copy. It is particularly interesting because it is likely that his experiences in the war paralleled many of the experiences of his younger brother, Ernie. We do not have the detail of Ernie's experience, though, so we are happy to present Karl's descriptions.
According to Karl's daughter, Anneliese, Karl's first contact with aviation came when he was a boy. He would often go to Friedrichshafen, where Graf (Count) Zeppelin built his airships. Karl had contact with one of Zeppelin's sons. It is notable that Ernie's first job was at Graf. The Bühl brothers also attended aviation events in their area. The first direct contact with airplanes we know of occurred at an airshow in Freiburg in 1910. It seems that Karl and Fritz attended, and it is likely that Ernie came along.
Below is the oldest photo we know of to be in Karl's possession. It is of the event in Freiburg in 1910, and we feel it is possible that this was Ernie's first contact with the new technology. Ernie would have been 13 years of age while Karl would have been 19 years old.
(Source for Fritz' military record for World War I: Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; München; Abteilung IV Kriegsarchiv. Kriegstammrollen, 1914-1918; Volume: 18154. Kriegsstammrolle: Bd. 2).