Recently, a group of FlyerTalk members converged on Hamburg to take in the 825th Hamburg Port Festival as well as to take part in special tours of Airbus and Lufthansa Technik’s Main Base. The weekend allowed for friends to see each other again, and to make new ones as well. As part of this weekend, I was to also take my first ride aboard Lufthansa’s Junkers Ju52 along with the winner of the Jason Dahl Scholarship Fundraiser that was held last year that gave away a ride on the Ju52. Unfortunately, Mother Nature played her trump card and forced the cancellation of the Ju52 flight as thunderstorms rolled through the area exactly at our scheduled time of departure. I guess there’s always next year for the Ju52.
The group’s tour of Airbus at Finkenwerder Airport was fantastic as tour guides were available for both German and English speaking groups. The tour covered several of the Airbus hangars including the ‘ginormous’ A380 fuselage production facility. We were treated to fantastic insights by our guides and most of us came away impressed with the experience.
The group also had the opportunity to visit Lufthansa’s Technik ‘Basis’ at Hamburg Airport which serves as the main Technik hub for Lufthansa. As part of this tour, we were given rare access to the VIP hangar where we saw first-hand the 747-400 and 747-8i that are being retrofitted and prepared for service for private clients. In this case, the aircraft were destined for private ownership in the Middle East. Must be a nice problem if you can call a 747-8i your private aircraft.
As part of the Technik Tour, we were also treated to a up close view of an A340-300 going through a comprehensive ‘D-Check’ which requires the tear down and refurbishment of all major components. In this case, the A340-300 was also being retrofitted for Lufthansa’s new First and Business Class cabins as well. We were actually permitted to climb the scaffolding and walk around the fuselage, getting a close up look of what the aircraft looks when an interior is completely removed from an aircraft….including the floors.
Unfortunately, we were not allowed any kind of photography inside any of the Airbus or Lufthansa Technik facilities due to security concerns and to maintain the privacy of Airbus and LH clients. It’s too bad, the 747-400 going to the Qatari royal family would have made for a fantastic desktop wallpaper. The Kuwaiti 747-8i wasn’t too shabby either!
In addition to the tours, the group took part in an evening Dinner Cruise on the River Elbe during the Port Festival. The evening dinner cruise was chosen specifically so that group could take in the Fireworks Show that marked the peak of the Festival. The group was able to enjoy great food and camaraderie aboard the Morgenster, a twin masted tall ship as she sailed up and down the river waiting for the sun to set and the fireworks to start.
Fortunately, photography was finally allowed during this event, but I had to battle constant showers and downpours which made photo opportunities relatively few and far between. I did manage to catch a few images along the way, especially during the fireworks show when the rain finally surrendered for about 30 minutes. Hopefully the few pictures that I was able to take and share with you will give you an idea of what we experienced! A variety of ships from Germany and the rest of Europe made the pilgrimage to Hamburg to celebrate the Festival. The following boats were a tiny sample of the hundreds that attended, but rain prevented photographing more than a handful of them.
As the sun finally set, the rain drops ended just long enough for us to take in the Fireworks Show without getting soaked. I was finally able to take my camera out for more than 30 seconds!
From what I gather, the group plans to do it all over again in 2015 and hopefully we’ll be treated to better weather. According to locals that I talked to during the Festival, they claimed that it never rained on the event. Kind of hard to believe that we broke an 824 year streak of perfect weather!
If you are interested in learning more about these kind of trips that are planned by FlyerTalk members, visit FlyerTalk’s dedicated COMMUNITY BUZZ thread that keeps track of these kinds of gatherings that take place all over the world.