THE ABANDONED MILITARY AIRPORT IN GERMANY
‘Flugplatz Altenburg-Nobitz’ is today known as ‘Leipzig-Altenburg Airport‘. Before it was a civil airport, and it was used by the Wehrmacht and the Soviet Army. Some military buildings are still there today.
The Altenburg airfield was mentioned for the first time in 1868 as military parade ground ‘Storchsecke’. In 1909 an Parseval airship landed here for the first time, two years later the first single and double deckers were shown at a airshow.
One year before the First World War, the Nobitz air base was inaugurated. During wartime, fighter pilots of the type Albatros, Fokker, DFW and Rumpler were assembled in the hangars and student pilots were trained. After the war, the airfield and the remaining aircraft were dismantled. In 1933 preparations began to build a new airbase, which was opened a year later. In 1936 the site was expanded as ‘Fliegerhorst Leinawald’ with code name ‘Alpendohle’. After the beginning of the Second World War, fighter pilots were trained again. From 1942, Focke Wulf FW-190 fighter aircraft were converted into two-seater for training purposes.
In April 1945, the 6th US Armored Division occupied the city of Altenburg. Later, the city and airfield were taken over by the Red Army. Five of the seven hangars were dismantled and taken to Russia. Bunkers, barracks, hangars, and air defense positions were built. Initially, Yak-9 fighters were stationed here, but from 1952 also jet fighters. The runway was extended to 1,800 meters. Between 1954 and 1989. The planes were gradually updated to include the Mig-15, 17, 21, 23 and finally he Mig-29. The Soviet radio call sign for the airfield was PRORAN or ПРОРАН. The Soviet Armed Forces stayed at Altenburg-Nobitz until 1992.
In the United States of America, in the desert of Nevada close to Area 51, the Soviet airfield was reconstructed to use it as a training target. According to old satellite images, the facility was built between 1974 and 1976.
After the Cold War ended, the airfield was handed over to German authorities. Eventually, the conversion to civilian use took place. A new tower and handling facilities were built so that Air Malta’s first charter passenger aircraft could take off in 1996. However, it wasn’t until 2003 that Ryanair was the first airline to establish scheduled flights from here, including flights to Barcelona and London. The airfield was renamed ‘Leipzig-Altenburg Airport‘. Since the booking numbers did not develop as desired, Ryanair switched to Magdeburg-Cochstedt Airport in 2011. The conversion to an airfield for sports and historical airplanes took place in 2012. Also, you can visit the museum of Flugwelt Altenburg-Nobitz. The exhibition has two large open spaces with many military aircraft. I visited Flugplatz Altenburg-Nobitz in 2020.