BERLIN: Airports

Time to read:

3 minutes

This is really about Tempelhof Field, which was retired in 1975 and turned into a vast city park. For most people my age, it will forever be the home of the Berlin Airlift. Berlin has two major airports and one on the way. In the northwest is Tegel, now disused, where many international flights arrived. In the southeast is Schönefeld, where many European flights arrived. And next to Schönefeld, there’s BER, the new Berlin airport.

The terminal was the world’s largest building for a while and still is Europe’s largest. Why would any photographer think he could fit the whole thing into a single camera frame?

The tower. Inside, the terminal features a large mural depicting the famous Airlift. In 1948-49, Western allies helped sustain the city’s residents after the Soviets cut off land and water access. The planes carried 2.1 million tons of food and other essential supplies into Tempelhof on 278,000 flights over 11 months. And the so-called “Candy Bombers” dropped parcels of sweets to eagerly waiting children.

The park has kept its airport features.

These long runways now belong to Berliners out for some exercise.

There are runners, of course.

Two-wheelers predominate. That plane you barely see in front of the terminal is a C-54, the model used during the Airlift.

No excuse for a second bike photo. I just liked the curve of the fence.

You can find three wheels.

Or one.

Or skates.

Especially skates with a little boost. The never-ending wind on the field makes Tempelhof a great spot to fly a kite, and the city holds a kite-flying competition here each year.

But sometimes just a quiet walk.

The folks in these photos were out on the coldest Sunday in a month. Luckily Coffee Bike serves right out on the runway.


Tegel airport tower

Tegel was scheduled to close once the long-delayed Berlin-Brandenburg airport (BER) came online, and BER finally is a reality. Voters told city planners they wanted to keep Tegel operating, but it’s now “disused.” Last I heard, it was being used to house Ukrainian refugees. Tegel’s future may not be known for years.

At Tempelhof in 2011, city planners had wanted to build new commercial areas and offices, 4,700 homes and a large public library on this site. After months of debate and despite a campaign backed by much of the media, voters preferred by nearly 2 to 1 to keep Tempelhof a park.

After almost 15 years in planning, more than a decade of construction, half a dozen delays and an estimated $5.75 billion in overruns (on an original budget of $2.3 billion), Berlin Brandenburg now is Berlin’s big airport.

This little yarn about Berlin airports also is where I take off. My Berlin trip is over, and this is the final post. Thanks to each of you who looked in on the blog. Your being along gave the trip a wonderful extra dimension.


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