What was the reason to start GST
As early as the 1920s, the annals record the first flying activities on the hills around Trebbin. At that time the first gliders were catapulted with rubber ropes from a hilltop east of today's airfield, the Löwendorfer Berg, into the Brandenburg sky. A group of gardening apprentices made the start with self-made aircraft, later followed by daring pilots from all over the region and especially from Berlin. A disused cigar factory in Trebbin became the production facility for this forerunner of today's glider. In 1931 the hilltop was raised by an artificially raised hill, four halls were built and several tents were erected. The Trebbin glider airport was born. The LÜWA air surveillance set up a development center on the hill and thus became the forerunner of research activities at today's airfield. Albert Lorke was the first airport manager.
In the following years the rubber ropes were replaced by the first winches and finally the idea was born to pull gliders into the air hanging on a powered airplane. None other than the famous fighter pilot and later General Ernst Udet pulled the first glider with a Klemm 25 from the Priedeltal, at the foot of the Löwendorfer Berg.
The Third Empire
The starting signal for today's airfield was, in the light of the times, the inglorious expropriation of the Mosse family. In 1934 the Jewish banking family lost their extensive lands and possessions around Schönhagen. The then still densely wooded area at the foot of the Löwendorfer Berg was cleared and the planes moved down from the hill in 1935 to the also expropriated Schönhagen estate. In 1938 flight operations could start on the new site. Priority was now given to training young young pilots for the air force in the NS Fliegerkorps, which was spun off from the German Air Sports Association in 1937. The newly trained glider pilots were sent directly to the front from Schönhagen.
In 1940 they moved from the manor to the newly built administration building between the airfield and the outskirts. In 1942, the pilot's forge was raised to the rank of a Reichsegelflugschule. The first headmaster was a Mr. Kiefer. This era was to come to an end just three years later. By order of the Allied Control Council, the new buildings were razed to the ground and in 1946 all gliders were burned.
the post war period
In 1952, the government of the GDR commissioned the newly founded Society for Sport and Technology to rebuild aviation. In the same year the Schönhagen glider school received two double-deckers as tow planes and construction work for a new flying school and hangar, which was completed in 1954, began. Fritz Fliegauf directed the first school in the post-war period.
In the 1950s, the building was not just a flying school, but quickly developed into a cultural center with dance, cinema and sporting events. At that time, airport concerts with well-known artists were broadcast live from Schönhagen. It was only later that the open airfield meeting place was to become the hermetically sealed, strictly guarded area with which Schönhagen experienced reunification.
The first gliding activities were joined by powered flight and parachute training in 1956. Personnel and technical equipment developed rapidly and the training of personnel at other airfields was soon taken over. From 1957 onwards, Schönhagen increasingly became the venue for championships and competitions. Teams from Schönhagen won many titles and records in various competitions and world championships in motor aerobatics and parachuting. From the mid-1960s, foreign pilots were also trained, e.g. from Cuba, Egypt and Iraq. A visit to the Schönhagen Aviation School was on the agenda of many foreign delegations.
In 1974 the GST founded a combine of four schools. In addition to the flying school, a functionary school, model sports school and a news sports school started teaching. About 100 students were constantly accommodated in the four-bed rooms of the Schönhagener Aviation School. The new school combination was headed by Mr Stempin, Fritz Fliegauf remained the head of the flying school.
Schönhagen experienced a boom from 1979 onwards. After the number of cases of flight from the republic increased, the GST stopped training at seven airfields. Besides Jahnsdorf near Chemnitz, Schönhagen became the only airfield with engine flight training. The parachute jump training was concentrated on Halle / Oppin. Numerous aircraft were relocated to Schönhagen and the training focused on the offspring for the armed forces, but also on that of young flight instructors for the flying school itself.
The Modern Age
In 1990, after reunification, the GST and with it the school combine was dissolved and the trust took over the administration. In the same year the first Flugplatzgesellschaft Schönhagen mbH was founded, in which the surrounding communities were initially involved. By the mid-1990s, the Teltow Fläming district acquired the airfield site from the Treuhand, brought it into the airfield company and took over the small shares. Today the district holds 99.54% of the airport company, the rest is owned by the city of Trebbin. Gerhard Blex, who had been in charge of aeronautical training at GST since the late 1980s, became the first managing director of the post-reunification period.
In the meantime, Schönhagen was able to successfully build on its history and set many new impulses for the future.
With around 45,000 aircraft movements, Schönhagen is again one of the most important airfields in Germany and the busiest in the new federal states. Two thirds of flight movements are commercial. Today you can find the entire, colorful range of general aviation here, from private and leisure aviation to the various areas of work aviation to business aviation. Six training companies have made Schönhagen the largest training place in Germany again since the fall of the Wall.
As early as the mid-1990s, investments were made in an asphalted, 1200 m long runway, in a new apron and in a tower. In 1998, the dynamic district of Teltow Fläming developed the concept of an aviation technology park under District Administrator Peer Giesecke, who was committed to the airfield. Since 2002 this concept has been implemented under the current managing director Dr. Klaus-Jürgen Schwahn implemented and further developed.
Today 39 companies, clubs and associations are at home on over 30,000 m² of commercial space and new settlements are added every year. Development and maintenance companies, aircraft manufacturers and flight schools successfully use the synergies that arise. In addition to the local companies, 40 companies from Berlin and Brandenburg have stationed their planes and helicopters in Schönhagen. A plan approval procedure that had been running since 1999 was finally terminated in 2006. This set the course for the continued security and future development of the airfield. The main runway was extended to 1550 m and the airfield facilities were adapted to the latest national and international requirements.
A modern event center with rooms for up to 200 people for conferences and events ties in with the culture house of the 50s. Schönhagen is a regular backdrop for film, television and advertising productions, including for the Babelsberg film studios.
The future viability of Schönhagen airfield is also shaped by the cooperation with various universities that use the airfield infrastructure for various research activities.
The latest development step is the establishment of an aviation security center with well-known partners from the security and aviation industry. The center aims to make a name for itself by participating in national and international research activities, providing test environments and simulating threat scenarios for training and research, including the development and implementation of training modules. It offers appropriate companies and institutions settlement opportunities with great synergy effects.
Not least because of the starting shot for the new international airport Berlin Brandenburg BER, Schönhagen can look to the future with optimism.
In the air traffic conception of the state of Brandenburg, Schönhagen is at the forefront with regard to general aviation and is developing into the most important relief airport for the new capital airport in the aircraft category up to a maximum take-off weight of 12 t. The relocation of aircraft from the former Tempelhof and from Schönefeld, i.e. the future BER, has largely been completed. The number of stationed aircraft has increased from around 50 to 180 in recent years. In view of the current flight operations, instrument flight operations are indispensable for safety reasons alone. After a five-year approval process, Schönhagen Airport received a license for instrument flight operations on June 13, 2012 in accordance with Section 6 LuftVG. The operating license has finally been legally binding since June 22, 2016. DFS has now started planning the procedure. The final commissioning will take place at the end of March 2018.
The proximity to Berlin and the central location in the middle of the fast-growing economic area between southern Berlin, the state capital Potsdam, Ludwigsfelde and the future major airport BER make Schönhagen Airport the ideal location for general aviation in the capital region today and in the future. The accessibility of Schönhagen benefits from the massive expansion of the transport projects around BER.
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