Grosses Internationales Flugmeeting
Mülhausen im Elsass, Germany, July 2nd - 4th, 1910

The Mülhausen/Habsheim airfield

A postcard view of the airfield. The airplanes are retouched in - the nearest Voisin is Étienne Bunau-Varilla's #27 from the 1909 Reims meeting... (1)
The origins of the Mülhausen-Habsheim airfield was an "Exerzier-Platz" for German infantry and cavalry that was established after Germany took over Alsace after the 1870-1871 war. When Aviatik started building airplanes they made test flights at the exercise grounds and constructed a couple of hangars in the northern corner of the field. When the 1910 meeting was planned, it was a natural venue for the event. The rectangular field, covering roughly 1.2 square kilometres, was flat and well-kept and although located around 10 kilometres away from the centre of Mülhausen, on the border between the villages of Rixheim and Habsheim, it was easily reached via the Habsheim railway station. Before the meeting, the usual grandstands, restaurants and temporary hangars were built. Around the field there were bars and refreshment stands on every 200 metres.

The airfield continued to be used by Aviatik until the start of World War One, hosting a couple of more meetings. After the start of the war the Aviatik factory an dall its planes were immediately moved out of Alsace and the proximity of the French border, first to Freiburg on the other side of the Rhine and then to Leipzig in eastern Germany. The military took over the field, which was used as a forward landing field rather than a permanent base. It hosted several different units, among them a couple of famous Jagdstaffeln.

After the war, the French armed forces took over the field, using the northern part as army practice grounds and the southern part as airfield. The air force squadrons moved out already during 1919, however, with the airfield becoming an emergency landing field. It wasn't until 1929 that organized flying returned, with the formation of the club "L'Hélice", which then turned into the "Aéro-Club du Haut-Rhin", which was very active during the 1930s.

During World War Two the airfield again became German. They built two permanent gravel strips, but since the airfield was far from the western front and there were other more important airfields in the area it wasn't used by any operational units. It was also used as a prisoner-of-war camp for Polish prisoners, and part of the field was cultivated.

After the war the "Aéro-Club du Haut-Rhin" was revived, relaunching its general aviation and gliding activities. In 1962 the airfield became a base for the "Aviation Légère de l'Armée de Terre", the light aircraft and helicopter reconnaissance and support services of the French Army. The army base closed in 1977, and the airfield became again entirely civilian. It is still the home of several active flying clubs. In 1981 the main 02/20 runway was covered with tarmac.

The airfield is perhaps best known for the dramatic and controversial accident in 1988, when the brand new third production Airbus A320 crashed into the forest immediately north of the field when it hit the trees at the edge of the airfield after an extremely low and slow flypast. Three of the 130 passengers were killed and 34 injured.

A map of the airfield from the program of the meeting. It is inverted, north is at seven o'clock.

Too see more details, open the map in Google Maps by clicking the "full screen" symbol at the top right of the menu bar!
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