With a tinge of sadness, 80 years of history will end on Oct. 31 with the formal closing of Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport, or Zentral Flughafen as it was long known. This airport – “the cradle of aviation” in the words of a press release issued by Berlin’s airport authority – was built in 1923 and remains one of the only surviving airports constructed before World War II. With Hitler-led renovations, Tempelhof became a representation of Nazi architecture – and later the aviation home of the famous airlift effort to oppose Soviet repression in 1948-49.
In the fall of 1909, Orville Wright took off from Tempelhof and made history as the first engine-powered flight to depart German soil. It is hard to overstate the airport’s role in history and commerce: It was once Europe’s largest hub and the home of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, now one of the world’s biggest carriers. The last commercial flight is scheduled to be German carrier Cirrus Airlines’ flight 1569 to Mannheim, late on Thursday. After that, two historic, restored airplanes will depart just before midnight for a flight over the city.