Miniatur Wunderland is the largest model railway in the world! But it’s more than ‘just’ a model railway. It’s a scaled-down version of the world. It is located in Hamburg’s Speicherstadt, not far from the Elbphilharmonie and was founded in 2001 by twin brothers Frederik and Gerrit Braun.
Here are some statistics: there are 1040 locomotives, 280 moving cars, 390,000 lights, 263,000 miniature figures and 15,400 metres of track. The layout has an area of more than 1,499 square metres and is controlled by 50 computers.
The model world is populated by thousands of miniature figures. They are called ‘Preiserlein’ after the company that makes them, Paul M. Preiser GmbH. There are different areas: Hamburg, Scandinavia, America, Austria, Switzerland, Central Germany, Italy, Venice and the airport.
Every 15 minutes it goes dark and thousands of LEDs are switched on. The effect is beautiful. There’s no Berlin but Hamburg is proudly represented. The Elbe, the Landungsbrücken, the Hochbahn, the S-Bahn,the Hauptbahnhof, the TV tower and the Elbphilharmonie are all therre. We see the port, the ships and the Köhlbrand bridge by daylight and at night.
All models are designed to be as lifelike as possible. As in the real Sweden, the trains run on the left. In America we start in Key West and right next to it is Las Vegas. At dusk, the city looks fantastic We continue to the Grand Canyon, but there is no Chicago or New York.
The small trains come from all directions. We don’t know where they are coming from or where they are going. A few metres further and we’re in hilly Mitteldeutschland. The ICE crosses a modern railway bridge. At night, a UFO flies down from the sky. An alien hunter is waiting. Famous conspiracy theories are represented humorously. In an underground studio, for example, the moon landings are filmed.
The airport is probably the smallest commercial airport in the world. More than 40 miniature planes take off and land just like real planes. I don’t know exactly how it works. Every now and then a Star Wars spaceship or a big bee flies along the runway. The model of Venice was completed in 2018. There is also Rome, Vatican City and other regions in Italy here.
The layout is constantly being expanded. Coming soon is Provence and a working Monaco Grand Prix. Britain was due to arrive in 2020, but it seems to have gone off the radar. You can look at the workshops and take a behind-the-scenes tour.
The attraction is open 365 days a year. Millions of people have visited Miniatur Wunderland. The model world so detailed, so impressive and so realistic that you look at the real world with completely new eyes. At Miniatur Wunderland, the keyword is wonder. Here you can really learn to… bewundern – to look in wonder at our world. Soon the real world starts to look like a model, as here, the Alexanderplatz seen from the Berlin TV Tower.
Miniatur Wunderland is an expression of the European idea as not only Germany is presented, but also several European countries as well as regions on other continents.
Soon visitors will be able to walk on a new footbridge over the water into the neighbouring warehouse to see South America. The future at Miniatur Wunderland looks exciting.
More info about the video and this article
This is a new version of an older video, now in German with English subtitles.
I’m attracted to Miniatur Wunderland because I love all types of models and I love trains and all forms of transport. It fits into the AVZINE channel’s theme of cities and journeys, as a number of cities are represented in miniature size – Hamburg, Rome, Venice, Las Vegas and others, but not Berlin, New York or Chicago.
It’s also about journeys as the trains run on thousands of journeys each day. There are also ships, planes, buses, cars, vans, a UFO and a strange bee-like creature.
The music is by the amazing Bad Snacks – the Los Angeles based musician, a genius with synthesizers and the violin, which she has played since she was a child. Thanks to her as always for making her music available via the YouTube Audio Library.
There is a students’ PDF for this video with script, side by side translation and questions. It’s available to my students, or just contact me and I’ll send you a copy.
Hello students, hello everyone! And welcome to my channel, the Audio Visual Zine. I am presenting a newer version of my video from 2019 with some extra airport scenes from 2020. It’s now in my AVZ channel format with text on screen and bilingual subtitles.
For my students, there’s a PDF file of the script with vocab and follow-up assignments. There are English and German versions, this is the English version. And do you know what this strange-looking thing is called in English?
Watch and find out! In the video we see chilling scenes of the airport in lockdown and we look back at airlines and aircraft that have sadly gone from our skies. So let’s go now to our starting point
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We’re going to cycle around Manchester Airport and our mode of transport will be an electric bike.
Our starting point is one mile or 1.6 kilometres east of the airport.
On the way we will stop at places where you can view, photograph or video the aircraft.
Now we are standing directly under the approach to runway 23R/05L (twenty-three right zero five left).
These houses were demolished due to safety regulations. This is what it looks like today.
The name Shadowmoss Road reminds me of the Shadowmoss plane crash of 1957, Manchester’s forgotten air disaster.
Today there are about 500 aircraft movements every day at Manchester Airport. Safety standards are very high.
Aircraft land from the north-east and take off towards the south-west. When the wind blows from the east, they take off towards the north-east.
The Airport Hotel is a pub, and there’s a garden where you can watch the planes taking off.
Here is my photo of an Aer Lingus A320, which I took in 2007.
With the iPhone we can photograph and video the planes through the fence.
This is what the scene looked like almost a year later, on Sunday the 2nd of May, 2020. No passengers. Planes parked. A silent airport.
Now back to May 2019.
At Terminal 3 Please note, there’s a charge for using the Drop Off Area.
And now again twelve months later. Terminal 3 was closed. There was an eerie silence.
Back to 2019
This block dates from 1962, when a new terminal was built.
The Air traffic controllers moved to a new tower in 2013.
I visited the airport as a child. The beautiful viewing terraces were closed in the 70s.
After university, I worked at Manchester Airport at the information desk. It was an exciting job.
Over the years the terminal has been extended.
The architecture of the Radisson Blu Hotel fits well into an airport
The Business Class Lounge has a great view over the apron. Behind the hedge is a Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Ethiopian Airlines.
This is The Station, which is used by trains, trams and buses. In the Skyline there are moving walkways that are not always working.
Parking is quite expensive at Manchester Airport. The best way to get there is by public transport or use the free drop off area.
Terminal 2 is being extended. Completion is planned for 2020. When I worked here, there were only empty fields.
Right next to the airport there is an old half-timbered house.
On the way to the cargo centre I saw this handmade road sign.
SLOW SLIPPY BEND
Slippery is “slippy” in the Manchester dialect.
We are at the World Freight Terminal. This is the new control tower.
The Romper Pub is very popular among the airport staff.
The airport was named after the neighbouring village of Ringway. It is strange that the ancient name ‘Ringway’ sounds like the modern word ‘runway’.
At Runway Viewing Park you can watch the planes. Admission is free for cyclists and pedestrians.
The biggest attraction here is Concorde. You can book a Concorde tour on the website.
Here is my photo of Concorde on the 22nd of October 2003 after her final flight.
On Sundays families come here.
Over the PA there’s is even a running commentary.
We now continue along the A538 and pass a brand new petrol station.
My first car was a Triumph Spitfire. I once ran out of petrol at exactly this point!
We are between the two tunnels. The new tunnel runs under the second runway – ‘23L/05R’ two three left zero five right.
At this roundabout, we turn left.
20 years ago, environmental activists protested in the trees and under the ground against the construction of the second runway.
At that time, this road, Altrincham Rd closed.
We can continue through the National Trust’s Styal property.
The airport is just behind the trees.
We are cycling along the gravel path by the southern perimeter of the airport.
Here we can stop and watch the planes from a small hill.
Here are some archive photos. The BMI A330. BMI ceased operations in 2019. Here an American Airlines Boeing 767 in the old livery…
…and this is the new livery. Thomas Cook Airlines went into administration in September 2019. And taxiing majestically to the runway, the ‘Queen of the Skies’
Virgin Atlantic retired the last Boeing 747s from its fleet in May 2020.
The Emirates Airbus A380 is a major attraction.
This area is not officially approved as a viewing area by the National Trust.
Here Altrincham Road continues east. On both sides are houses and farms.
And here at sunset we find a field with horses. The airport lies directly behind it.
The battery still has some power, so let’s continue. Here on the left we see the mock-up aircraft of the airport fire services.
At the end of this road, we turn left into Styal Road and soon we are back at our starting point.
We have covered a distance of 7.5 miles or 12 km.
This video was recorded and edited on the iPhone. I also used a Panasonic TZ70.
Finally a sunset over the A555, which I captured a few weeks ago.
Unfortunately, my electric bike became unserviceable – kaputt in plain language – and I had to retire it. But now I have a new bike, it’s a Brompton B75! It’s fantastic.
So, what effect will the Corona crisis have on the airline industry? That’s difficult to say. Many thanks for watching the video and/or reading this article.
Why was the airport that was once the biggest in the world built in the middle of a wilderness? The answer is actually quite simple.
Gander International Airport is situated on the island of Newfoundland in the north-east of Canada
The airport was built in the 1930s north of Gander Lake around 60 km west of the coast which is often fog-bound. There was also a railway line there.
The range of the aircraft of that time was insufficient for direct flights between Europe and North America. They had to make an intermediate stop and refuel.
Gander and also the Irish airport Shannon became important springboards across the Atlantic. Both airports lie on the route between north-west Europe and north-east America, the shortest connection between the two continents.
Building work began in June 1936. At that time, Newfoundland was a self-governing British Dominion. The town of Gander was built to house the building workers and airport employees.
The first aircraft landed on the 11th of January 1938. In November of the same year operations began. Four paved runways were built, the longest named 03/21, with a length of 10,200 feet or 3109 metres.
After it opened, Gander quickly became biggest airport in the world. In the Second World War, the Gander station of the Royal Canadian Air Force was of great strategic importance.
On the 10th of November 1940 seven American military aircraft departed on a test flight from Gander to Belfast. All seven landed there safely.
After that, more than 20,000 fighter planes flew from the USA to Europe, with a refuelling stop in Gander. Supplies were brought to Britain and to the European front.
Approximately 20,000 people from the U.S. Air Force lived around the airbase.
After the war the local authorities regained responsibility for the airport and it wasn’t long until civilian aviation started.
At that time flying was risky. The strict safety standards of today did not exist.
Despite the risks, more and more people wanted to fly. Soon the big propeller airliners of BOAC, Pan Am and TWA were making the flight across the Atlantic.
At that time the journey from London to New York could take up to 18 hours.
Gander became the hub of commercial aviation ‘Crossroads of the World’ was the slogan.
In the 1950s, 13,000 aircraft carrying 25,000 passengers landed and took off every year at Gander airport.
The passengers at this time were often privileged people, such as film stars and leading politicians.
In the boom years, the rich and famous came into the improvised departure lounge, where they drank cocktails and were photographed. Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor and Winston Churchill were visitors to Gander.
On the 29th of June, 1959 a new terminal was opened by the Queen, but the boom years were to end soon. The DC4s, Stratocruisers and Constellations of the 40s and 50s soon became outmoded.
The Boeing 707 revolutionised transatlantic air travel.
This jet aircraft had a range of 8000 kilometres and could cross the Atlantic direct from London to New York in only eight hours.
And so traffic at Gander decreased rapidly during the 1960s, but the airport was still important for military purposes.
In 1964 Jack James became Airport General Manager. He didn’t just work here, he lived here. The airport was his life and he devoted himself to the commercial success of Gander.
In the late 60s, he targeted the Eastern Block countries. Their Tupolevs and Ilyushins used too much fuel for longer flights.
They flew regularly back and forth to Communist Cuba. Aircraft belonging to Aeroflot and the GDR airline Interflug became regular visitors to Gander.
Aeroflot came with around 60 flights per week. The crews were stationed at Gander. The Eastern Block airlines opened offices at the airport or in Gander.
Eastern Block heads of state such as Brezhnev and Honecker were personally welcomed by the airport director. Fidel Castro had his first ‘winter wonderland’ when as a guest of the airport management, he rode a toboggan in the snow.
Communist rulers were the new VIPs at the airport but their subjects saw an opportunity to escape.
After landing, the passengers always came into the terminal while the plane was being refuelled.
The waiting area did not officially belong to Canada, but if a passenger wanted to stay in Canada it was possible.
He or she could go to a member of the security staff and simply say the words ‘Save me’. That meant that the person was asking for political asylum.
From that moment on they were accepted by the Canadian authorities. The security police of the Communist country they had come from could do nothing.
In the documentary film ‘Gander, the airport in the middle of nowhere’ by Roland May, Wolfgang Jörn from Neubukow in the GDR describes how he and his girlfriend of that time flew from Berlin Schönefeld to Cuba.
They had however already decided that they would not be returning to their socialist fatherland.
He describes how, on the return flight, he got off the Interflug plane in Gander and came into the waiting hall. He had brought his bag with him from the aircraft.
His girlfriend went to the security guard and said ‘Save me’.
Thankfully, he and his girlfriend were successful.
He still lives near Toronto and in 2018 he went back to his home town for the first time in thirty years.
When at the beginning of the 1990s, the end of Communism came the Eastern Block airlines had to close their offices. It was a sad time for colleagues on both sides.
The plane is the safest form of transport. We know that. The last major air crash near Gander happened in the 1980s.
On the 12th of December, 1985, a chartered Douglas DC-8 of the airline Arrow Air made a refuelling stop in Gander. It was bringing US solders who had been on a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai to Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
After take-off, the plane got into a stall and crashed. All 256 people on board were killed.
Presumed cause: Ice on the wings. Two other serious accidents took place near Gander: A Czechoslovak Ilyushin 18 in 1968 and a Sabena DC4 in 1946.
In the 1990s fewer and fewer International airlines came to Gander Airport. Its future seemed uncertain until in the north-east of the USA an unimaginable tragedy caused a crisis.
On the 11th of September 2001 after the terrorist attacks, 39 aircraft were diverted to Gander. 6122 passengers and 473 crew were stranded there and had to wait many hours in their aircraft.
Then the passengers were welcomed by the 10,000 inhabitants of the town of Gander. They were treated like members of the family. The guests and their hosts became close friends. When the time came to fly on, many parted with tears in their eyes.
In recognition of this, Lufthansa named its new Airbus 340 Gander/Halifax in 2002.
Nowadays not many aircraft land at Gander but at a height of 30,000 feet and above, around 1500 aircraft overfly Newfoundland on a normal day.
The control centre of the Canadian air traffic control for Canada and the North Atlantic, Nav Canada, is situated not far from the airport and is an important employer in the area.
Gander airport today is an airport for small passenger aircraft, private jets, regional airlines, freighters and military aircraft.
There’s an important flying school here: Gander Flight Training. It dates back to the year 1992, when its founder Patrick White bought a Cessna 150 and began as a flying instructor.
Today the school offers a wide range of flying courses. Students come from Canada and abroad to do their pilot training here.
With its long tradition in aviation, Gander is a place with a passion for flight. The people here are fascinated by planes and flying.
That makes Gander an ideal place for flight training. Newfoundland is a cold and often wet place with snow, ice and wind. Many people all over the world say, if you have learned to fly here, you can fly anywhere in the world.
But Gander like its sister airport Shannon, also has an important role as an emergency landing site for aircraft that get into difficulties over the Atlantic.
The coronavirus of 2020 brought new challenges for Gander and all other airports.
Gander International Airport has seen many highs and lows in the past.
Hopefully as the time moves on for this historic and remarkable airport, its future will remain secure.