Germany offers a great variety of interest for the spotter, from vast modern airline fleets to huge hub airports and popular aviation museums.
Here are ten reasons why Germany should be your next spotting destination.
1 It still provides airport viewing terraces
Remember the old days when all airports had viewing terraces; Then terrorism and ‘progress’ took over and they all closed? Well, in Germany, most airports still have viewing terraces for spotters to enjoy, often with outdoor and sheltered areas, and good positions to photograph and log movements.
The best terraces are at Dusseldorf, Munich and Frankfurt airports, although you’ll find them at most regional airports too.
2 Catch up with Lufthansa’s fleet
Lufthansa, along with its partner airlines, has one of the largest and most modern aircraft fleets in the world. Recently, it has acquired a fleet of Boeing 747-8 aircraft, and is now taking on new Airbus A320neos alongside the large numbers of A319/20/21 classics.
Partner airline Lufthansa Regional flies regional jets all over, and Lufthansa is also heavily involved with low-cost arms Eurowings and Germanwings.
3 See the historic aircraft at MunichMunich Airport has an observation deck on Terminal 2, and also an Observation Mound separate to the terminals, with good views of aircraft movements.
Alongside this mound there are a number of historic preserved airliners, including a Lockheed Constellation, Junkers Ju52 and Douglas DC-3.
4 Crosswind Videos at Dusseldorf
Every now and then you see some spectacular videos being shared around showing airliners in dramatic crosswind landings and takeoffs. One of the regular locations of these videos is Dusseldorf, where it’s possible to position yourself looking directly down the main runway and see the effects of the wind.
Here’s an example video.
5 The fantastic Sinsheim and Speyer Museums
Two mega aircraft and technical museums in Germany which you need to visit are at Sinsheim and Speyer, around 30 miles apart from each other, and just over an hour’s drive south of Frankfurt.
Both museums have excelled at presenting their collections in unique ways, with many huge airliners perched on plinths in nose-high positions above the walkways and buildings. What’s more, despite these positions, the public can still go on board and walk the cabins of the aircraft.
Both museums feature large aircraft from German and European history, such as the Boeing 747, Junkers Ju52 and home-built types.
At Sinsheim you also have both Concorde and Tupolev Tu-144, plus Tu-134, Ilyushin IL-18, IL-14, Vickers Viscount. Meanwhile Speyer has VFW-614, Douglas DC-3, Antonov An-22, An-26 and Dassault Mercure.
Both also include large collections of military aircraft, plus road vehicles, trains and ships!
6 Log the Freighters at Cologne/BonnCologne/Bonn airport is only moderately busy for passenger flights. It sees movements by Eurowings, Germanwings, Condor, Ryanair, SunExpress and many others. However, the big draw of the airport for spotters is its cargo operations.
Cologne/Bonn is one of Germany’s busiest cargo airports. It is a hub for UPS Airlines, with others such as FedEx Express, Turkish Cargo and Cargojet also putting in appearances. The majority of movements are at night, but often freighters are parked up during the day.
The cargo facility is to the east of the passenger terminal, but can be partially seen from the viewing terrace. Aircraft arriving on 14L can be seen by walking around the end of the runway from the ICE train station.
7 Classic Airliners at the Hermeskeil MuseumThis is not a museum which gains a lot of attention, but it’s a great place to visit for classic airliner fans. Despite being in Germany, the contingent of British airliners is high, with a de Havilland Comet 4 (Dan Air London), Dove (RAF), Vickers VC-10 (UAE Government) and Viscount (Lufthansa), plus a Concorde mock-up among the many pristine exhibits.
Other aircraft include a Lockheed Constellation, Ilyushin IL-18, Tupolev Tu-134 and Douglas DC-3 among many military props and jets.
Hermeskeil Museum is in the west of Germany, close to Trier and Luxembourg, and about a 2 hour drive from Frankfurt. Visit their website here: http://flugausstellung.de/
8 See all the new Airbus aircraft in Hamburg
One of the two main production sites for Airbus aircraft is at Finkenwerder Airport in Hamburg. This airport is purely used by Airbus, and you’ll see various aircraft being assembled and test flown, as well as daily flights connecting workers with other sites in France and the UK.
At Finkenwerder Airbus builds its A319 and A321 models, as well as fitting out other models such as the A380. It’s common to see aircraft destined for airlines all over the world being readied for delivery.
There’s a great viewing platform alongside the runway where spotters assemble to take pictures of aircraft movements. It’s one of the top spotting attractions in Germany.
9 Find an Ilyushin IL-62 in a field!
Some pilots just have nerves of steel. When it came to retiring this Interflug Ilyushin IL-62 in 1989, an aviation museum offered to take it on and preserve it. The only thing was, the runway next the museum is grass and only 900m!
Nevertheless, the pilot pulled off an amazing manoeuvre and landed the aircraft with no trouble. Today you can visit the aircraft at the historic Stolln airfield museum to the west of Berlin.
Here’s a video of the landing and an interview with the pilot:
10 Visit Aero Expo and see aviation history in Friedrichshafen
The fairly rural Friedrichshafen Airport in southern Germany hosts the annual general aviation extravaganza, Aero Expo, every April. Hundreds of light and executive aircraft visit, and all manner of new developments are on display. Visit the website and find out more about visiting and what to expect here: http://www.aero-expo.com/
Friedrichshafen is also home to the Dornier Museum, with some historic Zeppelin hangars still present. There is a viewing area to watch the regular airline movements, too.
Which aviation attractions do you recommend in Germany? Leave a comment below!