Trips / Berlin Tempelhof

trip
Farewell trip to Berlin Tempelhof
October 24/25, 2008
From Lelystad to Hannover From Hannover to Berlin Tempelhof From Berlin Tempelhof to Braunschweig From Braunschweig to Lelystad EHLE; Lelystad EDDV; Hannover EDVE; Braunschweig EDDI; Berlin Tempelhof

Good-bye flight to Berlin Tempelhof

Tempelhof Airport in Berlin was one of the earliest commercial airports in the world. Tempelhof was designated as an airport by the Reich Ministry of Transport on 8 October 1923. In anticipation of increasing air traffic, the Nazi government began a massive reconstruction in the mid-1930s. After the war, the airport acquired a further iconic status as the centre of the Berlin Airlift of 1948–49. One of the airport's most distinctive features is its massive, canopy-style roof extending over the apron, able to accommodate most contemporary airliners in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, protecting passengers from the elements. Tempelhof Airport's main building was once among the twenty largest buildings on earth.

Tempelhof Airport closed all operations on Thursday, 30 October 2008. We made a final good-bye flight to Berlin Tempelhof on the last weekend before closure.

NOTAM Tempelhof closure
NOTAM Tempelhof closure

Berlin Tempelhof, history

David Schwartz was a wood merchant from Zagreb. He had taught himself a great deal about the mechanics and construction of airships. In the summer of 1896 he decided to construct the first all-metal airship in existance. In 1896, his rigid airship made its first flight at Tempelhof field in Berlin.

Schwarz airship at Tempelhof
Schwarz airship at Tempelhof

In late August 1909, Orville Wright went to Germany. Over the next month he made 19 flights at Berlin's Tempelhof field.

Orville Wright over Tempelhof Field
Orville Wright over Tempelhof Field
Orville Wright over Tempelhof Field

On 8 October 1923, the airline Berlin-Königsberg began the first operation in Tempelhof. On the same day, the decision of the magistrate was taken to construct the Tempelhof field for Berlin central airport.

Tempelhof designated airport
Tempelhof designated airport

On 6 January 1926, Lufthansa opened it's European Hub at Tempelhof with regular flight to Erfurt, Stuttgart and Zurich. In 1930, Tempelhof was the largest airport in Europe in terms of passenger volume. Even the number of flight routes increased; 71 cities of which 25 outside are Germany are headed for Tempelhof. Further construction of the airport was not considered because of financial crisis.

Lufthansa
Lufthansa
Lufthansa

Larger and faster aircrafts like Junkers Ju52, Ju160 or Focke Wulf Fw 200 Condor brought more and more people to their destination in lesser and lesser time in 1930s. With the single-engine Heinkel He 70, the fastest commercial aircraft of its time, Lufthansa, renamed since a year, launched its route from Berlin to Frankfurt am Main in 1934.

In May 1933, when the National Socialist Party came to power, Göring assumed control of the aviation industry.

Between 1936 and 1939, architect Ernst Sagebiel designed what would be the biggest airport in Europe at that time on the Tempelhofer Feld: an elegantly curved new building of over 1.2 kilometres in length with 9,000 rooms.

Goering inspecting the airport design
Goering inspecting the airport design in 1937

Sagebiel erected Tempelhof on a steel skeleton construction, which observers can clearly see from the airfield. Despite its monumentality, the airport has a functional design: the architect systematically divided the procedures according to air passengers, baggage, cargo, and mail. This enabled passengers to quickly get from the check-in area to the gate. And the 40-metre, unsupported steel canopy is a technical masterpiece. However, the airport was never completed. Preparations for the war impeded its completion.

Construction of Tempelhof in 1937
Construction of Tempelhof in 1937
Construction of Tempelhof in 1937

The allied aircraft repeatedly attacked Tempelhof and damaged the airport. The Red Army occupied the premises at the end of the war and shortly afterwards it was handed over to the Americans.

June 1945
June 1945
Arrivals at Tempelhof, late 1945
Arrivals at Tempelhof, late 1945

When the USA also allowed the introduction of the D-Mark in West Berlin, the Soviet Union responded by blockading part of the city on 24 June 1948. Two million inhabitants and the allied occupying forces were suddenly cut off without adequate supplies.

But the USA did not give up on West Berlin. On 26 June 1948, the first aircraft already landed in Tempelhof with relief supplies. For eleven months the Allies sent supplies to West Berlin via an airlift. Planes carrying food, medicine, and heating material landed in Tempelhof almost every two minutes around the clock.

On 12 May 1949, the Soviet Union lifted the Berlin Blockade due to the lack of success and Tempelhof Airport became an international symbol of the free West.

Berlin Airlift, 1948/49
Berlin Airlift, 1948/49
Supplies for Berlin
Supplies for Berlin
Official opening Airlift monument, 1951
Official opening Airlift monument, 1951
Berlin Airlift
Berlin Airlift

It was only in divided Berlin that Tempelhof Airport fulfilled its real task. When the USA opened it to civil air transport in 1951, it became Germany's biggest airport for several years. The war damage was repaired, extensions were added – and Tempelhof was completed in 1962. The aeroplane provided the only secure connection between the Federal Republic of Germany and West Berlin, which gave Tempelhof a particular importance.

In 1970, the airport was given a new terminal building and in the following year, six million passengers used it for the first time.

Tempelhof Tower in 1975
Tempelhof Tower in 1975
A BOAC Lockheed in 1957
A BOAC Lockheed in 1957

However, political and technical developments brought this era to an end. Not only did the 1972 Basis of Relations Treaty between the GDR and the Federal Republic of Germany make it possible to travel across the GDR by car or train on a transit route, but jet planes became an accepted means of air transportation. However, the Tempelhof airfield was too small to accommodate them so West Berlin had to rely on the new airport in Tegel and the airlines relocated. By 1975, Tempelhof was only being used by the United States Air Force.

In 1982, the air force of the USA built the distinctive radar tower with its geodesic dome on four legs. Smaller civil aircraft gradually started flying to Tempelhof again, especially after the German reunification. In 2008, the airport closed its doors for the last time.

Shortly before midnight, a vintage DC-3 Candy Bomber and a Junkers Ju-52 – both from the 1930s took off from the historic airport. Then the runway lights went black forever.

Pan Am Boeing 727, 1981
Pan Am Boeing 727, 1981
Ju-52 departing just before midnight, October 30, 2008
Ju-52 just before midnight, October 30, 2008

24 October, 2008 - From Lelystad to Hannover

The crew
The crew
The captain
The captain
Welcome to Hannover
Welcome to Hannover
Final RWY 27R Hannover
Final RWY 27R Hannover

From Hannover to Berlin Tempelhof

Rene at Hannover airport
Rene at Hannover airport
Approaching Berlin Tempelhof
Approaching Berlin Tempelhof
Taxi to the apron
Taxi to the apron
Arrived at Berlin Tempelhof
Arrived at Berlin Tempelhof

25 October, 2008 - From Berlin Tempelhof to Braunschweig

Berlin Tempelhof terminal
Berlin Tempelhof terminal
On the apron
On the apron
Farewell Berlin Tempelhof
Farewell Berlin Tempelhof
PH-WCU
PH-WCU

From Braunschweig to Lelystad

Fuel stop at Braunschweig
Fuel stop at Braunschweig
Fuel stop at Braunschweig
Departure Braunschweig
Departure Braunschweig
Approaching Lelystad
Approaching Lelystad

Other Trips | Top