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Meiringen airbase

Type:Military airbase
Location:Switzerland, canton Berne[map]
Official website:www.lw.admin.ch(...)[external]
Overall impression:+++++
Photo opportunities:+++++
Facilities:+++

Summary

Out of three active military airbases in Switzerland, Meiringen is by far the most photographically atractive one. It combines easy access from both sides of the runway, no (or minimal) barriers, friendly staff and great mountains all around. Essence of Swiss spotting :-)

Getting there

Public transport

The easiest way to get to Meiringen is the train. First, you need to get to Brienz[map] (most of the express trains stop there) and then, take the regional train to Meiringen. Note: the airbase is traditionally called 'Meiringen', but you need to get out one stop earlier, at the Brienzwiler[map] train station. Alternatively, you can have a refreshing, 5km walk.

Car

There are three possible ways of entering the area:

Around the airbase there are some parking possibilities, most notably: public base visitor's parking[map], just at the entrance, the dedicated spotter parking[map] (!) on the northern side of the Unterbachstrasse. There is also a good place on the unused taxiway[map], convenient for staying around the centerpoint of the runway (but park your car on the grass, so it doesn't obstruct possible military traffic).

If possible, avoid parking your car in other places than these. While there are few more spots, some of them damn convenient, keep in mind that most are on the private grounds. The villagers are generally friendly towards the spotters, it would be a bit pity if this was about to change ;-)

Accomodation

Meiringen / Unterbach are not that much of the tourist places. If you plan to spend more time there, you might find some local accomodation - this page[external] might be a good start. But otherwise, there are plenty of places in Brienz, with a good train connection to the airbase area.

Timetable

Swiss airbases have quite regular flight schedule. On the official page[external] you can find the recent edition of the Flugplatznews and there, a detailed timetable for both Hornet and Tiger flights. In particular, watch out for:

Usually, you can expect at least one flying session in the morning (9am+) and in the afternoon, after the lunch break (2pm+). You can always ask at the gate[map], the guard on duty is usually friendly and well informed.

Open day

About three times a year, the airbase organizes an open day. Provided the excellent public opportunities around the base (see below) it might not be too attractive for somebody looking for the dynamic pictures - however, if you're after some insider shots, visiting the hangars etc, it might be of an interest. There are no fixed dates - just call the airbase, phone number is listed in the heading of the Flugplatznews

Photo opportunities

Meiringen offers an incredible range of photo opportunities, from any possible angle. It's certainly the most attractive Swiss airbase and, arguably, the best one in Europe. Situated in a narrow valley, with either colourful vegetation or the snowy mountains as a backdrop, with some spots on the surrounding mountains, aircrafts within reach of a hand - and all of this fully accessible from the public places, with spotter-friently staff. I've seen many people who, coming for the first time, couldn't believe what they saw.

Direct surroundings

Mountain spots

Facilities

It's a small village, so no first class facilities there... just some notes:

Last updated: 31-12-2010, 21:55

Photos from Meiringen

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