This site is dedicated to the memory of
our friend Gaston Botquin, gone too soon

Once upon a time on 9 November 1989...

On that historical day, the Berlin Wall fell apart with all its good and bad consequences for millions of people, including Western aircraft spotters and photographers who couldn't even have dreamed of the incredible opportunities that were going to materialize during the following months.

A few weeks later, the first (founded) rumours stating that photography of East German military aircraft was possible, started to circulate. It was however not (yet) recommended to walk around the Soviet airbases of GDR. Indeed, some people claimed that you could get shot!

Nevertheless, by 1991, it had become clear that taking pictures of Soviet material could be done safely. A handful op pioneers (mainly Dutch naturally) had started to explore the former East German territory, whereas local enthusiasts appeared in full daylight.

Some jaw-dropping pictures of MiG-25 or Sukhoïs, taken near unknown airbases or with names usually associated with the IIIrd Reich air defence, were published in some aviation periodicals.

It was time to wake up and catch that unbelievable opportunity!

Our first trip to united Germany was a true revelation. The new German Länder became consequently our main - if not exclusive - "playground" for around three glorious years until the withdrawal of the last ex-Soviet flying units from Germany.

It seems that a very limited number of aircraft enthusiasts have been able or have had the will to catch that once in a lifetime opportunity. Some of them, no doubt, were handicapped by the formatting of the mind that we all received, on both sides, during the Cold War.

They missed a lot and even more than spotters' opportunities. After that great period, our way of apprehending the world and life in general was not the same anymore.

Some months later, my friend Jean-Luc Debroux and I wrote seven articles about the last years of the Soviet-Russian aviation presence in Germany, which were published in the first issues of the French magazine Air Zone.

This site was initially based on these articles. However, we must admit that the latter are now obsolete. The site has since evolved considerably. Never so much information has been available than since the withdrawal of the last Russian soldier from Germany. And let's bet that it is not over yet.

This website will consequently remain in constant evolution. Moreover, new sections will be added in the future.

Any comments or corrections even about apparently insignificant details are expected with interest.

If you have lived that adventure yourself and/or if you have related material, your contribution to this site will always be welcome.

Hugo Mambour, September 2009

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