My thoughts were floating and somehow it came to my mind: I never presented in this blog my first urbex adevnture, the beginning! And I did have some pictures of it! Well, yeah. It was in 2007. October. I was in my way for a trip to Bratislava and Wien, which would end in Prague where I was establishing myself. So it was a big moment, an important journey. I was flying with Ryanair, with a scale in the small aiport of Frankfurt-Hahn.
It happens this airport, before it started to being used by Ryanair, was an important American Air Base, playing a major role during the Cold War. From Wikipedia:
“Hahn Air Base was a frontline NATO facility in Germany for over 40 years during the Cold War (former ICAO EDAH, now EDFH as Frankfurt-Hahn Airport). It is located 10 km (6.2 mi) from the town of Kirchberg and 20 km (12 mi) from the town of Simmern, and 2 km from the tiny village of Hahn in the Rhein-Hunsrück district of Rhineland-Palatinate in west-central Germany.
It was the home of the United States Air Force 50th Fighter Wing (in various designations) for most of those years as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). It was one of several USAFE bases in Germany (Zweibrucken Air Base, Ramstein, Sembach, Bitburg, Spangdahlem, and Rhein-Main) all within 100 km (62 mi) of each other. Beyond their location in the heart of US troop concentrations, these air bases were well situated to reach all locations within Europe and the Mediterranean region.
At the end of the Cold War, Hahn Air Base supported more than 13,000 people and three squadrons of F-16 tactical fighters. When the Cold War threat of an invasion of West Germany subsided, the United States was left with a huge excess capacity of expensive airfields in Europe.
As a result, the 50th TFW was inactivated in 1991 after 35 years at Hahn. The 496th TFS was inactivated on 15 May; The 313th TFS on 1 July, and the 10th TFS on 30 September. The 50th Tactical Fighter Wing was inactivated on 30 September 1991. On 30 January 1992 the 50th was activated as the 50th Space Wing at Falcon (later, Schriever) AFB, Colorado.
On 30 September 1993, most of Hahn Air Base was returned to civil German authorities but USAFE retained a small portion as a communications site.
The German government decided to turn the former NATO airfield into a civil airport. One of the main investors in the development of the new Frankfurt-Hahn Airport was Fraport AG, which primarily runs Frankfurt International Airport, the aim being to reduce the amount of traffic using that airport.
The faculty and police training school of the Rheinland-Pfalz State Police were combined at a new joint facility located at the air base’s former housing area in 1996.”
Further info at the Wikipedia Article.
Well, and there I was, with a full day ahead of me, nothing to do. So why not explore the nearby facilities. So I walked. And walked. Eventually I found hangars, abandoned. The old checkpoints reminded me of the famous Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie. I saw the barracks, the squadrons headquarters and assorted structures related with military activity. I can’t remember the details anymore, but it was a cool day, although a bit cold and damp. All of it carrying my full cargo (remember, I was moving to Prague….).
Now, the best bit was the bunker. Yes, an underground bunker I found. Explorable. A wreck but by then no graffiti. It was awkward. Exploring former Soviet bases it’s common. Now, it’s not every day that you ave a change to to the same with their counterparts, an American base. And as it was the best, the coordinates I am providing are for it: N 49° 56.963 E 007° 17.317
Be aware that it might be tricky to find the right access. Most of the area is fenced and eventually guarded. Ironically I almost ran intro troubles when I was exiting as I passed in front of a trailer with two civilian guards who got nervous, seeing me leaving the area from where I was not suppose to come from. Fortunately they couldn’t speak English so I played the dumb tourist role and kept walking as they yelled at me.