Flugplatz Brand is an abandoned airfield about 60 kilometers south of Berlin. It was built in 1938 as an air base for the Luftwaffe, the aerial warfare branch of the Wehrmacht. After the end of the Second World War, Soviet Troops took over and were there until 1990, when the airfield was transferred to German authorities.
A couple of years later, a company called Cargolifter bought the area and started building the most massive hangar in the world. In 2002, the company went bankrupt, and the airship hangar was turned into Tropical Islands, a fantastic tropical-themed water park!
I went to explore Flugplatz Brand back in January 2017 when I went to Tropical Islands and realized that the area around the park used to be a military airfield. I looked for some pictures online and found a gold mine of urban military exploration with a Lenin mural, abandoned hangars, and bunkers.
And everything seemed terrific covered in snow!
A Little Bit of History from Flugplatz Brand
Before it was called Flugplatz Brand, this air base was called Fliegerhorst Briesen, and it was used for supply purposes. During the Second World War, this airfield was used as training grounds for Flieger-Ausbildungs-Regiments 82. There was a grass runway, and this made turned the area into a landing site but no flying units were stationed there, but this would change soon.
Between 1950 and 1992, Flugplatz Brand was used by the air forces of the Soviet Army which extended the small airfield into something bigger. First, in 1951, it was a concrete runway that was 2,500 meters long. Later, in 1958, another track was built, and the airfield took the shape that it had before being abandoned. In later years, there was even a command post and a weapons warehouse that could be used to store nuclear aircraft bombers and MIG-17 as well.
Back in 1998, Cargolifter bought the area and started dismantling the northern runway and, later, the construction began for the most extensive unsupported hall in the world. This is where you can find Tropical Islands today. But I already talked too much about the history and not much about how exciting this place is.
What to see and photograph at Flugplatz Brand
The first place I tried to enter when I first arrived at Flugplatz Brand were the Hardened Aircraft Shelter which could be described as bunkers for aircraft. They are positioned close to the camping site from Tropical Islands, and they are easy to spot since they look like fake kills in the middle of the trees. At first, you will see a concrete slab closing the door, but you will find your way in if you take your time. Inside, there were newspapers in Russian and a few signs with military text, also in Russian. I hope they’re still there!
Every time that I go to an abandoned place like this military base, I like to try to find a sports court or gymnasium. For me, these places are one of the most interesting ones when they’re abandoned because they used to be filled with life. Now, when they are abandoned, they turn into something completely different.
This one at Flugplatz Brand looked fantastic covered in snow. The roof had caved some time ago, and it was one of my favorite places to take pictures there. There were even some paintings on the walls from the time the Soviet soldiers were stationed there.
My favorite finding was a mosaic of Lenin in the middle of some buildings that had seen better days. The yellow and red of the tiles looked like something out of an apocalyptic movie when you think about the snow around it and the contrast of colors. At the same time, it was great to see a familiar face in the middle of a wholly abandoned place like the Flugplatz Brand.
If you’re looking to take pictures of abandoned and decaying buildings, Flugplatz Brand might be the place for you. The housing blocks, especially, offer a view that seemed to me like a fallout scenario after a nuclear bombing. Trees are growing where buildings used to be, and there were animal tracks on the snow everywhere. If you want to visit and explore Flugplatz Brand, pay attention to where you are walking. The area has seen better days, and there were a lot of buildings that looked like they were on the verge of collapse. It could be due to the snow, but it could be by the lack of care in the last 30 years.
Also, pay attention to security people from Tropical Islands since, if you are walking around Flugplatz Brand, you are trespassing private property. For me, it was pretty simple to walk around and jump over fences since I felt like nobody would be walking around a frozen abandoned airfield in the early hours of the morning on a weekday. I had a day off, and I decided to use it well.
If you liked the pictures here, there are way more of them at Flickr. You should take a look.
Flugplatz Brand: Abandoned Barracks and Bunkers Close to Berlin