HAMBURG — Last Monday, a day before the delivery of American Airlines’ first Airbus A319 and all of the associated events, I had a couple of free hours to explore Hamburg before a press dinner that night. Being a humongous #avgeek – I was naturally drawn to visit the Knuffingen Airport exhibit at Hamburg’s Miniatur Wunderland (Miniature Wonderland) – also the world’s largest model airport, with more than 150 square meters in floor space. Opening in May 2011, the airport exhibit reportedly took 6 years to build at a cost of more than $5 million and is loosely based on the real life Hamburg Airport. Miniatur Wunderland is one of Hamburg’s most famous tourist attractions, and features 9 other dioramas including ones themed after Switzerland, Hamburg city, and America.
I was staying at the Park Hyatt in Central Hamburg, and Miniatur Wunderland was in the so-called docklands – roughly 2 kilometers to the Southwest. My walking route took me through a beautiful commercial district of Hamburg, and past the old city hall or Rathaus.
At 15 Euros, my pre-reserved ticket was reasonably priced and I immediately made a bee-line for the model airport. And it was mind-blowing… I’ve seen model airports before, both in person, and on online forums such as Wings900. I’ve even seen pictures and video taken at the model Amsterdam Airport diorama at Madurodam – another working model airport. But all of them pale in comparison to the behemoth Knuffingen Airport –
which features such incredible detailing that it left me speechless. I started on the far left end; where there is a working cargo and maintenance apron along with a general aviation area featuring some historical aircraft.
I then moved along to look at the runway and the assorted buildings on the air-field. There are more than 300 buildings on the diorama. The working runway is the crown jewel of Knuffingen Airport – taking up close to half of total production costs – and a take-off is depicted in the following video: