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Farewell to Berlin's Tempelhof airport

The last flight lifted off from Berlin's Tempelhof Airport late Thursday, bringing an end to an era of aviation that spanned World War II, the Cold War and the rebirth of the German capital.
Germany Airport Tempelhof
The last regular plane to arrive at the Tempelhof airport in Berlin Thursday, Oct. 30, is guided to its park position. At midnight Thursday, the airport permanently closed for air traffic.Wolfgang Kumm / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The last flight lifted off from Berlin's Tempelhof Airport late Thursday, bringing an end to an era of aviation that spanned World War II, the Cold War and the rebirth of the German capital.

Shortly before midnight, a vintage DC-3 "Candy Bomber" and a Junkers Ju-52 — both from the 1930s took off from the historic airport. Then the runway lights went black forever.

Tempelhof is now officially closed. Yet the future of the 900-acre site is uncertain. Proposals have included turning the airfield and building — one of the biggest in the world, protected as a historic landmark — into a luxury spa, some condos, a museum, a park, a trade center or even the centerpiece of a new Olympic bid.

Tempelhof opened as an airfield in October 1923, but had already been used for flights well before that.

The current complex took shape under the Nazis when Adolf Hitler decided to create a monolithic "air stadium" with massive stone blocks and pillars, boasting 49 buildings, seven hangars and 9,000 offices.

Germany Tempelhof's Farewell
An undated file photo shows Berlin children sitting on a fence of the Tempelhof airport watching a so called 'Raisin Bomber' approaching for landing. During the Berlin Airlift allied forces flew a total of 278.228 transport flights to supply the about two million people in the West sectors of the city during the Soviet blockade in 1948/49. Tempelhof Airport is due to close on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008.AP

During the World War II, German fighter planes scrambled from its runways in desperate but futile attempts to protect the capital from Allied bombers.

After the war, Tempelhof became a major U.S. Air Force base. It became the central point of a massive U.S.-led airlift in 1948 when the Soviets blockaded all land and water traffic to Berlin in an attempt to squeeze the western allies out of the city.