A few days after booking, I received my ticket by mail, with a nice cover:
Monday, 05 September 2005
Stuttgart (STR) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Airline: Lufthansa / Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung
Flight number: LH 8804
Scheduled departure time: 16:00
Scheduled arrival time: 17:15
Type of aircraft: Junkers Ju52/3m
Registration: D-CDLH “D-AQUI Berlin-Tempelhof”
Photo © Olaf Juergensmeier
Photo © Michael Fritz
Some words to the history of this particular aircraft, taken from a leaflet I received with my ticket: this bird is one of about 5,000 Ju52 being built between 1932 and 1952. It left the Junkers production in Dessau / Germany in early 1936 and was delivered to Lufthansa, wearing the registration D-AQUI and the name “Fritz Simon”. Only three months later, it was sold to the Norwegian airline D.N.L. which had a shortage of aircraft. New registration was LN-DAH with the name “Falken”. During war, in April 1940, German army annexed the plane and used it for military purpose. After Second World War, it was returned to Norway again where it flew until 1956. After being withdrawn from use and stored for more than a year, it was sold to Transportes Aereos Orientales in Quito, Ecuador where it was used as a cargo aircraft to carry mainly goats, cows and freight. 1963, after years of flying without much maintenance, the aircraft was in a very bad condition. It was stored at the edge of Quito airport where it rotted for some years. In 1969, a former US army pilot found the aircraft there and bought it for USD 5,200. He spent some more money to rebuild the aircraft and make it fly again; it got the new registration N130LW, but was only licensed as an “experimental aircraft”. In 1974, an other American purchased the bird for USD 52,500 and gave it the name “Iron Annie”. It got the registration N52JU, moved through the USA and attended several aircraft meetings and flying shows. In the 1980’s, Lufthansa was looking for a Ju52 which was still flying. They bought the aircraft in 1984 and took it over to Germany. They brought it up to modern technical aviation standard and begun using it for sightseeing flights. It got the actual registration D-CDLH (as “C” is the first letter of all registrations for aircraft of this size in Germany today) and as a second, in-official registration its former registration D-AQUI. It was called Berlin-Tempelhof and is flying all over Europe until today.
But back to my flight: I arrived at Stuttgart airport by train. LH had a special check-in counter for this flight which opened about 90 minutes before departure.
I showed my ticket and received a hand-written boarding pass that had been prepared in advance:
Then I made my way to the spectators area where I could watch the “Tante Ju” (=aunt Ju, nickname of this type of aircraft) returning from its last sightseeing flight around Stuttgart:
Later I passed security check (quickly) and went to my gate on the ground floor. 16 passengers (including me) were waiting there, so this flight was fully booked. Passengers were of all ages; an old lady who maybe travelled on one of those bird on a regular flight when she was young, but also middle-aged and younger people. Boarding started about half an hour before scheduled departure and the friendly LH gate agent wished everybody a lot of fun on this special flight. Boarding cards were collected completely.
A bus took us to the aircraft; it surrounded the aircraft completely (note the Lufthansa flag above the cockpit):
We were welcomed by our crew which consisted of pilot, first officer, flight engineer (three-men-cockpit) plus a (male) purser in the cabin. All crew members are active or retired LH employees who are doing these flights in their free time; they don’t get any payment for this. Our captain is usually flying the A 340 while our purser is retired; he was formerly operating on the B 747 and the A 340.
It was free seating, but you will always get a window seat:
Seats were nice; the aircraft was refurbished in the old-style:
I took a seat in the first row, as nobody else went there. Walking to the front was an interesting feeling with the uneven floor and the front being much higher than the back of the aircraft.
View to engine number one, not yet in action:
All crew members were really friendly; they were making jokes and were happy to talk to the passengers and give information to the Ju52 – you realized that they were doing this for fun as well. Because of the high noise level, the captain gave us the information about our flight route before the engines were started: it would lead us via downtown Stuttgart to Ludwigsburg, then along the Neckar to Heilbronn – Heidelberg – via the Bergstrasse and the Odenwald to Darmstadt – Egelsbach – Frankfurt. He invited everybody to visit the cockpit during flight, but apologized for not talking too much because of the noise. Flight level would only be 500 – 1,000 metres above ground, so there was plenty to see. Weather was great, so this was going to be a great sightseeing flight. By the way: we were told that the responsible technician had already gone to FRA on an other way (probably on a regular LH flight) in order not to block a passenger seat; he was awaiting the aircraft there.
The purser gave us the security instructions and asked us to leave the safety cards on board. So I made two photos of it:
A view to the wing and the apron before the engines were started:
Then the engines were started – a great sound, but really loud. It reminded me bit of a tractor.
We taxied to the runway and took off in eastern direction – a very smooth take-off, and really slow - take-off speed was only about 120 km/h. What a difference to modern aircraft!
We made a sharp left-turn which offered a great view to Stuttgart airport and the motorway A8 which leads to Munich:
Hohenheim Castle in the South of Stuttgart which hosts a university today:
The housing estate “Asemwald” which was built in the 1970’s:
Flying so low over my home town was just amazing for me!
The sports fields at “Waldau”:
Probably Stuttgart’s most famous sight, the “Fernsehturm” (television tower) – as you can see, it is just being renovated:
I apologize for the low quality of this pic – and some others – but the double glass window and the gleaming sun didn’t make photographing easy.
Downtown Stuttgart with the “Schlossplatz” in the centre of this pic – plus the two castles of Stuttgart:
The “Pragsattel”, a busy crossroad in the North of Stuttgart:
Nice flying weather:
After we had left the Stuttgart area, the third man in the cockpit – the flight engineer – stood up and removed his seat that was situated in the frame of the “cockpit door” (but no door was there):
He went to the back and cleared the way to the cockpit for visitors – a chance I kindly took:
The captain had a window open – it was quite warm in the aircraft, but of course no air condition available – and no heating as well! That’s one reason why sightseeing flights are offered only in summer. The captain told us about a very cold flight some day in April across the Baltic Sea (fortunately without passengers…). In the old days, people had to wear warm clothes when flying in Winter, but you can’t expect that from anyone today…
Nice old clock at the front cabin wall:
The town of Heilbronn:
Due to the shortage of space, no food or drink service was offered (did anybody expect something else from LH ? ) but the purser distributed pins and postcards with a stamp of today’s flight that could be purchased for EUR 2,50 to help the organization:
The City of Darmstadt:
The industrial area of Darmstadt with the headquarters of T-Online and Wella:
Shortly after, we were approaching FRA from the South. Some town close to the airport:
Our flight route was amazing – the captain told us that we got a special permission for that (the slow Ju52 is blocking the airport for some time anyway, and the afternoon is not the busiest time at FRA): We were approaching FRA from the South, parallel to “Startbahn West”:
Cargo City Sued and the maintenance facilities at the southern side of the airport:
Then we were crossing the two main runways:
…and the cargo area on the North side:
A remote stand where aircraft that are used for over-night flights are parked during the day (SAA 346, FedEx MD-11, Qantas 744 and Air Namibia MD-11):
Then we made a sharp left-turn, passing a chemical production company:
FRA airport from the West with the motorway and the skyline of Frankfurt in the upper left corner of the pic:
The City of Frankfurt:
Approaching runway 07L:
Other aircraft are waiting for us to clear the runway:
We touched down very softly, left the runway to the left hand side and taxied towards the area of the airport that is owned by LH.
The kerosene tanks of Frankfurt airport:
Lufthansa maintenance facilities:
We came to stand on a place within the LH-area, far away from any “public” parking positions on the apron, behind the LH main maintenance hall and next to a parked A 320. This offered all passengers the possibility to walk around and take pictures of this great aircraft without any restrictions:
Note the mechanic who is just checking the engine:
The crew was waiting together with the passengers for the bus. The crew thanked us and we thanked the crew for the nice flight.
Maybe a little bit “off topic”, but while we were waiting for the bus, an A 340-300 was pulled into the maintenance hall:
It took ages until the bus arrived, but I can imagine worse things than waiting on the LH base, surrounded by aircraft. Maybe the driver didn’t find us on this unusual parking position? Anyway, the bus finally arrived and the crew and the passengers boarded. On the way to the terminal, the crew left the bus at some LH office building. They said good bye and the bus took the passengers to the ordinary arrivals area in Terminal 1.
I spent some hours on the observation deck until they closed at 20:30, then I took the ICE-train back home to Stuttgart. By the way: the train was even a bit faster than the Ju, but I guess speed is not what you are looking for when flying this aircraft…
Conclusion This was a very special trip. It was expensive, but it was worth it – a real once-in-a-lifetime-experience! It gives you an impression of flying in the old days – which was so much different from today’s modern aviation. If you should ever have the chance to fly on a Ju, take it – it’s just amazing!
Thanks for reading my report – I hope I didn’t include too many of my pics, but I was just too fascinated by this trip…
Any comments are appreciated as always.