View Full Version : EDDI Berlin Tempelhof closing for good

30th Oct 2008, 12:24
October 30, 2008

Hundreds of people bade farewell on Wednesday to Berlin's Tempelhof Airport, a massive Nazi-built landmark in the heart of the German capital that served as a lifeline for West Berlin during the post-war Soviet blockade.

Dubbed "the mother of all airports" by architect Sir Norman Foster, Tempelhof dominates a huge stretch of land the size of New York's Central Park just south of central Berlin.

A functioning airstrip since 1923, its monolithic limestone terminal building was built by forced laborers between 1936 and 1941 on the orders of Hitler's architect Albert Speer.

The airport became a powerful symbol of the Cold War when Soviet forces prevented supplies from getting into West Berlin in 1948. The West responded by airlifting more than 2 million tons of food and other goods into Tempelhof for nearly a year.

It has continued to operate as a commercial airport, but its fate was sealed in April after a referendum to prevent its closure failed because of low turnout. Even Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out against shutting it down.

The last planes will fly out of Tempelhof just before midnight on Thursday. It is unclear what will happen to the site, which still stirs strong emotions with many Berliners.

"I am 85 years old, as old as the airport itself. Now that the airport's time is up, mine may be too," said Ursula Wellnitz, gazing through the window at the landing strip as she wiped a tear from her cheek.

Wellnitz is one of hundreds of people, who traveled to the airport on Wednesday, to bid it a last farewell.

Some, like 52-year-old Peter Fetsch and his nephew from Baden-Wuerttemberg, traveled hundred of miles to witness the end of the Tempelhof era.

For others, like Sabine Meyer, who met her future husband while waiting to reclaim her luggage at Tempelhof almost 12 years ago, the airport feels like home turf.

"I have campaigned and protested, and nothing worked," Meyer said. "This airport is where our relationship first started to blossom. Losing it is like losing a piece of our lives."

Television and radio stations have held competitions to win tickets on the airport's last flights. Articles with headlines like "Tragic Ending" have peppered city newspapers.

Since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the capital has operated three airports -- Schoenefeld, Tegel and Tempelhof.

Construction has begun on Berlin Brandenburg International (BBI), due to open in 2011 next to Schoenefeld.

"Our future is in BBI," Berlin's Mayor Klaus Wowereit said back in April. He hopes the new airport will create 40,000 jobs.

For some the economic benefits of a new airport are no reason to shutter Tempelhof, one of the world's oldest operating airports.

"I was born in the middle of the 1948 airlift and it breaks my heart to see this place closing down," said visitor Andreas Schoenefeld. "Although I share my name with Schoenefeld, it will never have a place in my heart like Tempelhof does."

Hundreds Bid Farewell To Berlin's Tempelhof Airport (http://news.airwise.com/story/view/1225354974.html)

30th Oct 2008, 13:54
Sad day for Aviation !

the historic airport Berlin Tempelhof will be closing for ever at midnight tonight. Although I have not flown there personally myself, I would find it interesting to read memories of those that have been there and feel like posting. I think starting a thread here would be appropriate. The airport holds great merit to the german-american friendship.

At midnight a Junkers52 and a "candybomber" DouglasC54" will try and take off at the same time - will depend on the wind and skill of the pilots which aircraft will be airborne last.

Tempelhof R.I.P. :{

30th Oct 2008, 14:00
It is sad day for an historic aerodrome, so much of todays, post WW II Berlin owes so much to the Airlift and EDDI.

30th Oct 2008, 14:06
I am old but not that old to have flown the "Airlift"...
Was with PanAm, back then F/E then F/O on 727 - the "IGS", early 1970s.
During furlough, returned to Berlin late 1970s, but was with AeroAmerica (TXL base).
Aufwiedersehen, Tempelhof...
Happy contrails

Spunky Monkey
30th Oct 2008, 14:21
I flew into Templehof last year and I must admit that I found it rather sad to think that it would be closing.
It is probably the most magnificent (architecturally) airport in the world.
An airport that should be treasured even as a work museum rather than turned into flats.
It is somewhere every pilot should fly into at least once in their lives.
Strangely I feel proud that I have done so.

Luke Darkstar
30th Oct 2008, 14:21
I once went there and I found it more than impressive to land in this small circle airfield in the middle of all these Berlin houses surrounding the airport. And then taxiing towards this huge and impressive airport building.
What will happen with this building?? Does anybody know?

30th Oct 2008, 14:25
Goodbye Tempelhof!

30th Oct 2008, 14:33
Auf Wiedersehen Tempelhof.

A true shame...


Go Around
30th Oct 2008, 14:48
So long Tempelhof.
I flew in there in the 80's and 90's. Anyone remember the aerial photograph of Berlin and the Wall that was hanging in one of the FBO's rooms?

A sad day.Thanks for all the memories.

30th Oct 2008, 14:54
What will happen with this building?? Does anybody know?Since it is landmarked, it will have to be preserved as is. As for the airfield, lots of ideas floating about in the media but nothing definite. Sad thing really.

Thanks a lot, Mr. Wowereit. :ugh::ugh::ugh:


Capt H Peacock
30th Oct 2008, 15:35
How very sad. I flew in there about 20 yrs ago. You can't help but be impressed by the fantastic Art Deco terminal building, and taxying in to park under the overhang was a novelty that I suppose we'll never have again.

Rejoice accountant, behold your handiwork.:uhoh:

30th Oct 2008, 15:40
I flew a King Air there when it was the football world cup. Awesome airport but was a tough one to get out of when there was supposedly 700 a/c there all wanting to do the same thing and only one frequency to do it on!! But will also look at my log book with memorys

30th Oct 2008, 15:49
I used to fly there on a regular basis with DAT. Wonderfully evocative of another age especially when coming onto stand under the great overhanging roof. Visiting the loo which is unchanged (I gather) from new, I pondered how many illustrious and dare say infamous fellow aviators had previously visited the same facilities.

eghi r20
30th Oct 2008, 16:05
When we were there in Feb 08 they had the idea the airfield would become another Berlin Park, with the terminal becoming a museum.

Rumour has it, the few people who could perhaps have saved it had interests in the other Berlin airports. :uhoh:

30th Oct 2008, 16:26
I was there last month and not too many people happy with it.
Would put a pic up but don't know how to!!!
Doh! :ugh:

Plane Dumb
30th Oct 2008, 16:28
3 generations of my family have flown there. My grandfather was involved with the airlift (my mother grew up in postwar Berlin), my uncle in the 80s & I did an ad-hoc there a few years ago.
Amazing terminal building, looked like an old film set (or vice-versa).

what next
30th Oct 2008, 16:36

Made my "farewell-visit" there two weeks ago. The apron already looked quite deserted. What a shame. Force closed by people, whose parents were not even born when this airport was inaugurated.

Greetings, Max


30th Oct 2008, 16:37
Just after the wall came down I had the pleasure of operating one of the first scheduled services into the 'free Berlin', landing in this extraordinary airfield.
Parking under the roof and looking at the surroundings burned impressions in my mind I will never forget.

My (digital) logbook tells me about 48 incident free landings and take-offs at THF, certainly all of them some kind of a special event for me.

Well, politicians with no vision rule everywhere these days, THF would have deserved better.

It is not the first airfield which will be closed forever; but it is certainly one with a great history. There are for sure still a lot of 'Airbridge' pilots around who helped Berlin surviving with their impressive go-arounds after dropping the big parcels....on an airfield they never landed on.

Very sad to say Aufwiedersehen, it will be by car however.

30th Oct 2008, 19:43
I've got one landing at EDDI in my logbook, I feel proud to have been there but a real shame that I won't be able to add to that anymore.

30th Oct 2008, 21:28
Watching live-TV with tears in my eyes:
In these minutes the last scheduled flight, a Dornier Do-328 has left Tempelhof.

English Info+Video from DW (http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,3751506,00.html?maca=en-tagesschau_englisch-335-rdf-mp)

30th Oct 2008, 21:37
Happy Days! I remember parking under the roof; ideal when it's raining! You don't realise the size of the building until you're there, and how beautiful it is inside. A really sad day for aviation... again! Got a great pic to share, but it's not happening..

30th Oct 2008, 21:46
A sad day...the last scheduled flight has just left. Last will be a DC-3 and the Lufthansa JU-52. I have tears in my eyes and watch live-TV right now...

BBC-Video in English (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7700672.stm)

31st Oct 2008, 07:57
Somewhere, I have an old photo of myself standing on the tarmac at Tempelhof in the 1980s. It is going to be very strange to look at that when I find it again, years from now. But, when I explain it to the younger members of my family, I will tell them this. I remember the architectural beauty of the airport, absolutely. But even more important to remember are these things: The courage and energy of the crews who flew the Airlift, under very demanding and dangerous conditions. And the strength and dignity of the Berliners -- proud and free citizens who refused to yield when a cruel attempt was made to starve them into submission. I salute both groups, and will remember them well, along with Tempelhof.

31st Oct 2008, 08:57
Got ramp-checked at EDDI, felt like the Spanish Inquisition.

Thought the place looked like a kick-back to pre-WW2 days, architecturally. Imposing, but not beautiful.

Watched an Airship lose control and career about the place at 50ft. Whilst we sat in our 320 wondering if it would bump into us. Unusual.

Random memories, but the place certainly sticks in my mind.

31st Oct 2008, 09:48
The wizards who run or ran Berlin City Council, who have invested very heavily in the colossal white elephant down the road at Schonefeld, will rue the day that they closed THF.
Most cities in the modern world would give an eye tooth to have a city centre airport such as THF but lack of foresight, greed, incompetence and extremely bad planning have led them down this one way street towards closure.
They blame this closure on the fact that THF makes a loss but the Council are the very people who forced the airlines out of the airport, to operate from TXL and SXF against their wishes.
I lived close to THF for some years, used it regularly and often wondered why it wasn't allowed to operate to its full potential.
Now we know.
Politics, kick-backs, greed and money have once again killed a golden goose.

btw, if you are ever there, take the tour of the underground facilities. There is a huge, and I mean massive, factory down there where fighter aircraft were built right up to a few days before the Russians arrived in 1945.

31st Oct 2008, 12:44
Sorry, but I've got to rain in on the parade a bit. Let's start with the "beauty" of Tempelhof. It simply doesn't exist. The building is ugly as hell and is a typical example of Nazi-architecture, designed to intimidate the beholder and definitely not for beauty (but, unfortunately, we're not going to get rid of this monstrous building). Yeah, it's impressive, but for all the wrong reasons. And yeah, there's a certain element of nostalgia also for me, having flown from Tempelhof (as SLF) since I was a small kid in the sixties, but so what?

Closing it down isn't just a question of incompetence, or even, as someone suggested, kick-backs and greed, at least as far as I can tell. I think it's undisputed that Berlin needs a larger, modern airport. Until yesterday we had three airports, two of them directly in the inner city. (Surprisingly, most proponents of Tempelhof don't mention that Tegel (EDDT) isn't that much further away from the city center than Tempelhof and don't complain about it getting closed down in the forseeable future.) Both of the inner city airports can't be extended. The only one that can is Schönefeld (EDDB), but, for several legal reasons, that's impossible unless the other two get closed. Keeping Tempelhof open for much longer would have opened up legal loopholes that would have further delayed the expansion of Schönefeld and might even have killed the whole project, so the Berlin City Council actually didn't have much of a choice at all (ironically, the opposition party, which is now so outspoken against closing Tempelhof, was in power when the whole process got started, knowing very well all the consequences).

Finally, as someone living beneath the approach path to EDDI I for sure will miss the view of landing airplanes coming directly my way but I definitely won't miss the noise;-)

31st Oct 2008, 19:58
Somebody posted a
Youtube Video from last day (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S22ul5iCJ8Y) and transcription of radio com between TWR, DC-3 and JU-52 before the last take-off

BBC-Info (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7701232.stm)

:( :{

Pressure Carb
1st Nov 2008, 08:25
A sad day indeed. The last international departure was the British Eagle DC-6 G-APSA, to Rotterdam.

1st Nov 2008, 22:15
It's a shame to close such a historic airport. I made my last visit there a few days ago. Unfortunately I couldn't be there on the 30th October, so I just watched the closing and the last take offs on TV. What a sad day...

The Associated Press: Berlin's historic Tempelhof Airport closing (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5ggIJztToa_rhxW6lASIGgqJgO7xQD944A6700)

Bye bye, Tempelhof!

4th Nov 2008, 14:47
Did not realise but the land that templehof is on was actually owned by the Knights templars, hence templehof.

5th Nov 2008, 17:19
Well, what can we expect... a neo-communist "Senat" with a gay mayor at the top. :mad:
It's a prime example of incompetence and stupidity from some provincial decision-makers.

21st Jan 2009, 01:16
What a super picture posted by jhlinga.
I would like to see a picture from just before the war, with many different airliners on the ramp, or in the BEA/Pan Am/Air France postwar period when air travel to Berlin was subsidised. When did traffic start being moved to other airports? I remember flying to THF in a Pan Am 727 in the mid-sixties. We had to stay below 10,000 feet due to some Allied agreement, I think.