The city of Berlin, Germany, has had four airports. Two of which are still active. Being Otto Lilienthal Airport, better known as Tegel Airport (EDDT), in the western part of the city and Schönefeld Airport (EDDB) in the southeast.
Tempelhof (EDDI) and the smaller Flugplatz Gatow (EDBG) were closed in 2008 and 1995. There's even a local law stating that Berlin can only have a limited number of active airports at a time. The legislation was imposed by 'Die Grünen' and a major fraction of Berlin's inhabitants. This way the hindrance of aircraft noise was greatly reduced and ensured that the planning of the new and bigger Berlin Brandenburg International Airport (BBI) stayed on course; although the later was idle hope to begin with...
As Tegel and Schönefeld are still open, my interest is especially
triggered by the two closed airports - you know me!! I wanted to smell
the fumes of old kerosene and take a look at how 'we' did things in
the old days.
To that regard, Tempelhof is literally "the temple" to go to. There are still a couple of old aircraft on the airport's ramp and the structures and buildings are for 99% still there. Oké, some hangars are nowadays used for big exhibitions and conferences, and the runway is used for Nordic walking, cycling and rollerblading, but the main thing is: it's still there to see, feel and smell...
Designated by the Ministry of Transport on 8 October 1923, Tempelhof became the world's first airport with an underground railway station, in 1927. And the station is still there, now called Platz der Luftbrücke. You can get there by taking U6 (metro 6).
Tempelhof was one of Europe's three iconic pre-World War II airports. The first terminal was constructed in 1927. As part of Albert Speer's plan ("Generalbebeauungsplan für die Reichshauptstadt") for the reconstruction of Berlin during the Nazi era, Prof. Ernst Sagebiel was ordered to replace the old terminal with a new terminal building in 1934. The resulting building is huge in every way. It a 1.2 kilometre long quadrant with more than 900 rooms and offices, including a large ball-room (which the Americans used as a basketball court(!), during their stay) and 14 staircases.
One of the airport's most distinguishing features is its large, canopy-style roof that was able to accommodate most contemporary airliners during its heyday in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, thereby protecting passengers from the elements.
But this was not the only reason for building such a monumental roof. The Tempelhofer Feld was formerly used for military parades. On Sundays it was a popular picnic and exercising place for Berlin's population. Even several sporting stadiums were built for tennis and football. In 1830 a racecourse was built. So, when it was decided to build an airport, it was designed to double as a stadium. The current roof being the terraces on which approximately sixty thousand people could be seated. However, it's never been used for sporting events or air shows.
If you get the rare chance to go up onto the roof, you still can see the structure of the intended terraces and where the seats would have been.
Tempelhof played a essential part in the airlift operation in 1948 and 1949. Operation "Vittles", as the airlift was unofficially named, began on 26 June when USAF Douglas C-47 Skytrains carried 80 tons of food into Tempelhof. This was far less than the estimated 4,500 tons of food, coal and other essential supplies needed daily to maintain a minimum level of existence. But this force was soon increased by United States Navy and Royal Air Force cargo aircraft, as well as British European Airways (BEA) and some of Britain's fledgling wholly privately owned, independent airlines. Airlift was operational for a staggering 462 days. To operate it many types of aircraft participated in the airlift. They are frequently referred to as "Rosinenbomber" (Raisin Bombers in English).
The name came from the fact that pilots dropped sweets and candy (likely also raisins) on little parachutes out of the window to Berlin's children, which lined up on the edges of the airfield watching the aircraft. American pilot Gail Halvorsen (still alive today) started it and it was soon adopted by military command and dubbed "Operation Little Vittles".
The Douglas C-54 "Troop Carrier" was one of the many aircraft used. It's the militairy version of the DC-4 "Skymaster". There's still one at Tempelhof. It actually took part in the airlift. Another one can be found just outside the airport at the Columbiadamm (@52° 28′ 56″N, 13° 24′ 23″O)
About the photo
This HRD consists of three photos: -2, 0 and +2 stops, made with my Canon 5D Mark II, handheld. I used Photomatix Pro 2.5 (for some reason this version suites me best) and did some extra work with PS11.