Sperenberg

Validation date: 27 03 2011
Updated on: Never
Views: 3389
See on the interactive map:


52°08'00"N 013°09'00"E

Runway 09/27 - 2500x50m - concrete (CLOSED)
Runway 09/27 - 1000x50m - grass (emergency use only - CLOSED)


Air Base Sperenberg (german: Flugplatz Sperenberg, Russian: Аэродром ГСВГ Шперенберг) was a Soviet air field built from 1958 near Sperenberg, south of Berlin in Brandenburg, Germany.
It served as a replacement for the military use of Berlin Schönefeld.


Contrary to popular belief Sperenburg was not always an air field, not even during the Nazi-days.
The area was originally part of the Heeresversuchsanstalt (Army proving grounds) Kummersdorf, doing research in the usability of military hardware since 1870.
Until World War II it also served as a training facility for railway pioneers, as shown by the many remnants of bridges and railway tracks.
During World War II it served as a rocket and missile research facility to Dr. Werner von Braun, before he moved to Peenem�nde.


In the 1950s the Red Army was looking for an airfield for exclusive military use.
After intense budget talks with the German Democratic Republic (DDR, or East Germany) construction began in 1958.
Construction was done by prisoners under direction of VEB Spezialbau Potsdam.
The airfields intended use was to relieve Berlin Sch�nefeld of military air traffic and use it for civilian flights only.





A very dark grey An-12 'Cub' Red93 of 226.OSAP (Transport Regiment) at Airfield Sperenberg in May 1994 (source)


Sperenburg was already a Soviet garrisson because of the army units in the area, so there was little need for extra barracks, garages and support units.
Over time the airfield developed into a Sovieet city within East Germany, with schools, shops, movie-theatres, hospitals, etc.
The airfield had its own daily service to Potsdam and Moscow, and at it's peak housed 5,000 military and civilian personnel.
Besides its main runway it had two taxi tracks that could serve as wartime emergency runways.
The Red Army made heavy use of Sperenburg: it had both cargo and passenger aircraft (such as An-22 and Il-76) stationed, but also bombers and combat helicopters.
Sperenburg was the location where Erich Honecker, former Head of State of the DDR (from 1971 until 1989), spent his last night on German soil.
As there was a warrant for his arrest he used the Soviet airfield and a Soviet aircraft to flee to Moscow, and from there to Chili.


When the two Germanies were reunited, things changed almost overnight for the Russians.
Most importantly, they were no longer in charge of affairs in the DDR (english: GDR).
The first aircraft spotters (especially the Dutch) recognised there was an opportunity to shoot as many Soviet aircraft as they liked.
What was highly illegal in pre-1990s East Germany was now legal, and there was not a thing the Russians could do about it.
This made it highly attractive to spotters to invade Soviet Air Force installations, shoot photos of aircraft that the Soviets considered classified and get away with it for free!.
(The Soviet military came under (West-)German law, which meant they could no longer shoot on sight. The Germans did not,
however, provide them with the same power the western air forces posessed in Germany, which meant they were themselves
responsible for the safety of their flight operations)
The Soviets operated from the airfield (although severely restricted) until 1994.






The Soviets had not yet left when a national debate began about Sperenburg.

Recognising that the remaining 4 airfields in Berlin were either too small, too outdated or too restricted in growth a search began for a replacement airfield for the national capital.
As Sperenberg already served as the main hub for Soviet forces it was deemed a good candidate.
Proponents argued the infrastructure was already in situ and the area was thinly populated, reducing noice restrictions.
Others argued the air field was too far away from Berlin (60kilometers) and too close to the Halle-Leipzig airport and its ICE fast rail connection.
The matter was settled in 1996 by politicians allowing Berlin Sch�nefled to grow considerably.
The decision was controversial because economics were said to be in favor of Sperenburg, but an attempt to reverse the decision was blocked.






Airfield Sperenberg in 2005 (Google Earth)





End of the runway at Airfield Sperenberg in 2007(naturstiftung.de)






2010 view of the tower at Airfield Sperenberg (Picture-Alliance, via Tagesspiegel)
 

From 1996 the airport and the surrounding lands, altogether 2400 hectares of property, were owned by the Bundesrepublik (Federal German State) and not in use.
In 2009 the property was handed over to the Federal State of Brandenburg.
The complete installation is left to the weather, nature and vandals.
On the main runways several surfaces for use on roads were laid out and sound blocking walls were erected for testing by several faculties.
One of the taxiways is in use for crash testing by the German safety research organisations T�V and Dekra.
From what I've gathered on line the airfield is accessible to the public.