The Johannisthal airfield
One of the pylons. Inside each pylon there was a switchboard where
a pylon judge registered all passing machines with a push-button,
one for each competitor. (1)
Work on the airfield was started during the spring of 1909, under
the management of the Deutsche Flugplatz-Gesellschaft, a company headed
by the businessman Arthur Müller, together with aviation enthusiasts
and Deutsche Aero-Club members Georg von Tschudi and Eduard von Pustau.
The preparations were carried out in a great rush. 150 army soldiers
were recruited for clearing the land, which was partly farmland and
partly forested. The trees were cut down and most of the stumps
removed, but because of the short time available the ground was still
rough and uneven when the 1909 meeting started.
A seven kilometre wooden fence was built around the field. A
trapezoidal course of 2.5 kilometres was laid out. Twelve hangars were
built, together with grandstands, several restaurants and canteens and
a post office. It was claimed that all the grandstands and other public
facilities were built in 19 days immediately before the opening of the
The installations were improved and enlarged already the year after.
Several airplane companies, for example Albatros, Rumpler and LVG, and
flying schools made the Johannisthal airfield its home. During WW1 it
was used by both the marine and the army. It continued to operate after
WW1, but gradually lost importance as a civil airfield after the
Tempelhof field was opened in 1923. It was then used by the Deutsche
Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt and by the military.
In April 1945 the airfield was taken over by Soviet forces and ended up
in the eastern sector of Berlin. After WW2 it was briefly used, mainly
by Soviet transport planes, but flying activities declined quickly. The
airfield was officially closed after a final airshow in 1995.
Today the area is being developed, mainly for industrial and academical
purposes, but part of the airfield will be preserved as a park.
A map showing the general layout of the race course and the airfield
installations. Development of the previously forested northwestern
parts of the field (on the left side of the map, north is at ten
o'clock) had started, but the 1909 2.5 km course was still used.
for a high-resolution version!
A superb panorama over the airfield and the grandstands, with de
Caters' #1 Voisin and Amerigo's Sommer in the foreground.
The hangars along the "Alte Startplatz" as they looked in
Too see more details, open the map in Google Maps by clicking the
"full screen" symbol at the top right of the menu bar!