My 40th birthday was on the 21st of June 2000. While I usually don't do much on my birthdays, I decided that I should do something special this time. So I chartered an Antonow AN-2 for a sightseeing flight and invited a couple of friends and co-workers to have a look at Berlin. (Ok, originally I wanted to do something more selfish and do a sightseeing flight in a seaplane, which would have seated just one passenger. But while searching the web for this, I found a page about the Antonow AN-2. So I decided to book this one and celebrate with friends.)

The flight was relatively late (starting at 8pm) and it had been a warm week, so there was a bit of a heat haze over the city and the sun was pretty low. So most pictures taken on the first half of the flight into Berlin (which was westwards, towards the sun) are a bit hazy and low on contrast, but the later ones look quite ok.

[Btw, thanks to everyone who contributed their pictures. Since we are a computer science research institute and most of us are technophiles anyway (well, more like gimmickphiles), there were quite a few digital cameras on board, so about 170 MB of pictures were taken. In addition to the 100+ pictures taken on 'classical' film. So there were a lot of pictures to choose from for this page. Also: since some of the cameras 3 Megapixel cameras, some of the pictures are about a megabyte large, so some of the downloads may take a while.]

The Antonow AN-2 is a fairly odd plane. It's the world's largest biplane. The first planes of this type have been build in 1947, so it's already a bit of a classic. (Though the specific plane we flew in was quite 'young'. D-FWJC was build in 1968.) Originally the Antonow AN-2 planes have been designed as utility aircrafts and have been primarily used as as crop dusting planes and for other agricultural purposes. Nowadays, most remaining Antonow AN-2 planes seem to be used for parachuting.

The flight took us from Finow in the northeast of Berlin towards Seeberg and then westward over Berlin and back, before returning to Finow. I was sitting in the front on the co-pilot seat and I was able to put my GPS receiver on the dashboard and get a nice GPS trail of the flight. The flight took 47 minutes, with an average speed of 158 km/h at about 2800 feet with a maximum speed of 207 km/h and a distance of 125 km flown. The flight path shows nicely that the pilot flew a small circle over the Brandenburg Gate and the flight maneuver on approaching the runway (flying over the end of the runway, then turning about 30 degrees, making a u-turn beyond the western end of the runway and then touching down).

Anyway, here are the pictures (aerial views first, followed by pictures of the plane, the people and the party):
S-Bahn Treptower Park with 'Treptowers' to the right.
Spreepark and Plänterwald, with the Ferris wheel on the left and the rollercoaster on the right.
Tempelhof Airport with Columbiabad at middle left and Südstern at bottom left
Another view of Tempelhof Airport. The 'Luftbrückendenkmal (Air Lift Memorial) can be seen in the park in the half circle of buildings in the lower middle of the image.
Probably not a picture of general interest, but I this is where I live. The large building on the right is the Karstadt department store, the place in front of it is the Hermannplatz. The imposing building in the middle is a school (in front of the green graveyard area) and the street leading away from it is the Hobrechtstrasse, where I live.
Same motive as the one to the left, just a bit further down the flight path, so you can see the houses in the Hobrechtstrasse a bit more clearly.
Kottbusser Tor
Kottbusser Tor, with Kottbusser Damm leading toward the top of the picture.
Hallesches Tor
Hallesches Tor, with the circular Mehringplatz in the middle and the Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek (AGB) above. Finanzamt Kreuzberg to the right and the Heilige-Kreuz Kirche to the left.
Alexanderplatz, with the "Fernsehturm" in the middle, the red city hall at the bottom and the hotel 'Forum' at the right.
Tiled building
Sorry, I've got no idea what this is. I should probably know that building, since it's rather conspicuous, but I can't place it right now. Probably seen it hundreds of times, though...
[Yes, I have. As Ralf identified, this is where Kochstrasse and Friedrichstrasse meet. The white building towards the left is the Ullsteinhaus and at the lower left you can see the old Springer printing building being demolished.]
Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz. The IMAX theatre is easy to locate, the building for musicals (build for "The Hunchback of Notre Dame") to the right of it.
Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz again, but this time with a wider camera angle. Towards the upper left the Sony building (the circular building with the roof which looks a bit like a camera iris), towards the upper rihght the beige/yellow building of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Potsdamer Platz
Yet another view of Potsdamer Platz and surroundings. Brandenburg Gate in the far upper right, Sony Center in the middle. Note the balloon in the middle right. This is a tethered balloon, which takes people up to about 400 feet for a ten minute view of the area and is pulled down again after that.
The government area.The building at the middle right with the large glass dome is the Reichstag, the seat of the german parliament. Brandenburg Gate is (a bit hard to see) at the lower right, the structure amidst the green in the lower left middle is a soviet memorial.
The eye-shaped area to the right is Wittenbergplatz, with the KaDeWe being the big building directly to the left of it. The building with the green roof in the upper left is "Zoo Palast", a large cinema.
Zoo / Breitscheidplatz
This is Breitscheidplatz with the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche. Europacenter at the top center, railwaystation "Bahnhof Zoo" at lower right. The large white building on the lower left is the ZAZ, where this company used to be located before moving to the new site.
TU Berlin
The Technical University of Berlin. The main building at the lower right, Ernst-Reuter-Platz at the lower left.
TU Berlin
TU Berlin again, but this time with a wider camera angle. Towards the top middle of the image, you can see two large spherical containers. If you look about 50 pixel downwards, the large building you see is the place where I work and where the server on which the website is hosted is located.

This is a bit of a 'default picture' that almost everyone seems to have made when the plane taxied over to
where we were standing. So it's a nice image to compare the results produced by the different cameras.
The Antonow AN-2
Canon PowerShot S20
The Antonow AN-2
Casio QV-3000EX/Ir
The Antonow AN-2
Olympus C2000-Z
Finow Tower
The tower of Finow airport.
Not one of the busiest airports around.
They had to open the tower
especially for out flight.
Waiting in anticipation.
Boarding the plane.
Safety Belt
Safety belt
People in plane
Waiting for the start.
People in plane
Taking off.
Instrument panel
Instrument panel
Instrument panel
Instrument panel close up.
Plane from inside
Inside the plane
Me during the flight
Ego shot of me in the co-pilot seat
during the flight.
The Antonow AN-2 and me
The Antonow AN-2 and me.
The Antonow AN-2 and me
And once again.
The Antonow AN-2
A final bow.
The Antonow AN-2 and me
Time to leave.
Celebratory champagne
after the flight.
People in plane
And a nice sunset to finish the day.

Back to other travels