It is not often you get to refer to an airport as quaint, but indeed this photograph of it from the year it first opened (1926) is just that. It shows us a single story wooden building with a tin roof surrounded by an attractive white picket fence with all the makings of a small café in its front yard. A casual observer might have mistaken it for a house (which it may well have been for the operator of this “airport”). Their future of 1.8 million passengers annually would have seemed quite a long way off, if they had known.
Of course it wasn’t to remain tiny for long since Lufthansa, the first airline to use Salzburg’s new airport, soon had connecting flights to Munich. Lufthansa was joined by ÖLAG, and began operating flights to Vienna, Zurich, and Budapest. That is pretty good for an airfield that used a grass landing strip.
Ask anyone when WWII (World War Two) started and you’ll get many different answers. It was actually a bunch of unrelated skirmishes, one of which had Germany occupying Salzburg in 1938, well before the September attack on Poland in 1939, and certainly before the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.
The Wehrmacht (Germany’s Army/Navy/Air services during the Nazi Regime of 1935-1946) took over the operations of Salzburg’s airport, but continued to allow civil aviation flights. The upside, if you could call it that, was that in 1944 the airport got its first concrete runway which was 3,700 feet (1,200 meters) long. This allowed them to accommodate much larger and heavier aircraft.
After the Nazis were evicted, the United States established their Austrian headquarters in Salzburg and took over operations for the airport. They officially renamed it Salzburg Airport. Soon Pan American and BEA were flying there, increasing the air traffic. The east-west runway 10/28 was insufficient so a new north-south runway 16/34 was added in 1960. By 1970 it had been lengthened to 7,900 feet (2,500 m) and air traffic rose to ¼ million passengers per year. They hit the half million mark in 1987 and the one million mark in 1993.
In 1996 they renamed the airport to W. A. Mozart (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) to honor the city’s most historically important figure. They added high tech CAT III air flight instrumentation to allow operations in low visibility. Consequently scheduled flights and charter operators began to make heavier use of their facilities. By the year 2000 they had reached 1.6 million passengers annually.
If you have never seen a glass-cockpit in an aircraft, this video should be quite entertaining. It not only affords a forward view from the cockpit itself for the landing at W. A. Mozart airport, but the navigator on the flight records many of the actions the pilot takes on approach.
One of the more interesting webcam variations is located here where you can select an activity, such as a rotating current view that updates periodically, or for more fun, select time lapse (yellow). Now select a time frame (blue), and select a play speed (red) and enjoy the show. If you rotate the camera while the show is running it will stop and restart when you get to the new view you have selected. You can watch the evolving weather; you can watch the snow come and go on the mountaintops; and you can watch the amazing array of aircraft that pass through the airport.
Of course there are various fixed cameras around the airport that you can peer through, with hourly updates. These cameras can give you a pretty good idea of the weather over the course of the day.
If you want to feel like you’re actually wandering through the Salzburg Airport, take a virtual tour of the facility. The airport is actually designed as a two-purpose facility. It is primarily an airport in the wintertime, but used as a recreational facility in the summertime by the local residents, for presentations, awards, day camps, or whatever they can dream up.
During the virtual tour, once the first image has fully loaded, clickable hot spots will appear in the image. Select one and you will be whisked away to a new destination. Each one is a rotatable panorama, each with its own hot spots that will take you to new locations.
Isn’t that special?
What if your kid is a little cranky after a long flight, or bored waiting for your plane to be ready to depart? There are a couple of safe play areas with toys and distractions to give them a chance to wind down. They are right next to the restaurant areas so you can keep an eye on them through the glass. Of course you will probably be on the free Wi-Fi checking your e-mail from home!
Do you like to watch airplanes arrive and depart? The Visitors Terrace could be just the place for you, complete with a mini-biergarten and refreshment area.
If you happen to be carrying prohibited objects when you attempt aboard an aircraft in Salzburg, it is not merely taken from you. You have the option of paying a €4.00 fee to have it held for you, to be returned when you finish your vacation or trip. If it is actually valuable that is so much better than having it end up in the pocket of one of their TSA equivalents, or the trash.
They go one step further. For a fee of €10 (if the object fits in an envelope) they will mail it to your residence. If it needs a larger container, such as a postal shipping box, the fee will be €15.
Isn’t that so much better than what happens with our homebred security people, of whom possibly 10% should be redesignated as Theft, Stealing & Appropriation inspectors? Depending on where you travel (especially South America where high-end electronics are targeted), you can be subject to a lot of Light-Fingered “inspectors” that want your stuff, so it is probably worth six minutes of your life to check out this video that shows you how to protect your valuable gear when travelling.
From a tiny little strip of grass that happened to be flat enough for airplanes to land on, all the way up to the international airport which handles almost two million passengers per year. It has been quite a trip for the once tiny Städt Flugplatz Airfield to grow to become the modern and sophisticated W. A. Mozart Airport, but we are certainly glad that they have finally arrived!