You may have heard of Frankfurt Hahn Airport, the low-cost airport mainly used by Ryanair and other low-cost carriers. Hahn Airport (HHN) has become a popular alternative to the main Frankfurt International Airport (FRA), despite the fact that it is located 100 km west of Frankfurt in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz) in Hunsrück region, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
What many of the travelers do not know, however, is that the airport formerly served as a U.S. Air Base until 1993. Founded by the French in 1951 and taken over by the United States in 1952, it was the second largest US Air Force Base in Germany and a major NATO site. Hahn was home to the United States Air Force’s 50th Fighter Wing. At the end of the Cold War, Hahn Air Base supported more than 13,000 military personnel, civil servants and family members. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, the United States was left with a huge excess capacity of expensive airfields and flying units in Europe. On September 30, 1993, most of the military site was returned to the German authorities and then turned into a commercial airport.
Over the years, many of the buildings were demolished or used for the present civil airport. Some of the abandoned military housing units and a couple of other buildings are still there.
In April 2017, I happened to fly into Hahn Airport on my way back from Vilnius and had a couple of hours to spare for urban exploring before moving on to Frankfurt. My flight arrived on time and the weather was pleasant, so I decided to check out what is left of the former Hahn Air Base.
I had seen photos of the abandoned buildings taken in 2013 and was surprised to see many of those buildings demolished. Some of the housing units are still there and in a rather bad condition. To my surprise, the interior of some of the buildings was still in pretty good shape, considering the fact that they had been left unoccupied for many years. Although most windows were smashed, there was no graffiti on the walls and the parquet floor was relatively undamaged.
It was exciting to explore a former U.S. military base from the Cold War era, but at the same time sad to see these buildings in such a desolate condition. But see for yourself:
Urban exploring follows the rule “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, break nothing but silence” – it is about exploring abandoned locations and taking pictures, without damaging any of the property.