Once upon a time on 9 November 1989...
On that historical day, the Berlin Wall fell apart with all its good and bad consequences for millions of people,
including Western aircraft spotters and photographers who couldn't even have dreamed of the incredible
opportunities that were going to materialize during the following months.
A few weeks later, the first (founded) rumours stating that photography of East German military aircraft was
possible, started to circulate. It was however not (yet) recommended to walk around the Soviet airbases of
GDR. Indeed, some people claimed that you could get shot!
Nevertheless, by 1991, it had become clear that taking pictures of Soviet material could be done safely.
A handful op pioneers (mainly Dutch naturally) had started to explore the former East German territory,
whereas local enthusiasts appeared in full daylight.
Some jaw-dropping pictures of MiG-25 or Sukhoïs, taken
near unknown airbases or with names usually associated with the IIIrd Reich air defence, were published in some
It was time to wake up and catch that unbelievable opportunity!
Our first trip to united Germany
was a true revelation. The new German Länder became consequently our main - if not exclusive -
"playground" for around three glorious years until the withdrawal of the last ex-Soviet flying units from
It seems that a very limited number of aircraft enthusiasts have been able or have had the will to catch that
once in a lifetime opportunity. Some of them, no doubt, were handicapped by the formatting of the mind that we all
received, on both sides, during the Cold War.
They missed a lot and even more than spotters' opportunities.
After that great period, our way of apprehending the world and life in general was not the same anymore.
Some months later, my friend Jean-Luc Debroux and I wrote a long article about the last years of
Soviet-Russian aviation presence in Germany, which was published in the first eight issues of the French magazine
This site was initially based on that article. However, quite a lot of corrections, updates and
additions have been included and we must recognize that this article is now obsolete.
Never so much information has been available than since the withdrawal of
the last Russian soldier from Germany. And this is not over yet...
That site will be consequently regularly
updated. Moreover, new sections will be added in the future. It will never be a finished
Any comments or corrections even about apparently insignificant details are expected with interest.
If you have lived that adventure yourself and/or if you have related material, your contribution to this
site will always be welcome.
Hugo Mambour, September 2009