Messerschmitt mishap briefly shuts Berlin airport

Berlin’s ILA aerospace trade fair and air show got off to a bumpy start after an antique World War II German Messerschmitt crash landed, forcing the nearby Schönefeld airport to temporarily halt air traffic late on Tuesday.

Messerschmitt mishap briefly shuts Berlin airport
Photo: DPA

The single-engine Me-109 fighter sent a huge cloud of smoke across the airfield after tipping onto one wing as the right landing gear gave way. The pilot was uninjured, but air traffic control stopped flights in and out of the airport for half an hour, according to Schönefeld spokesman Ralf Kunkel.

The Messerschmitt, owned by a historical foundation from aerospace firm EADS, had just taken part in an aerial demonstration with a Me-262 at the ILA air show, which started earlier on Tuesday. The Me-109 was one of the most widely used German fighters during the Second World War and its landing gear was always considered a weak point on an otherwise highly capable aircraft. The Me-262 was the first jet fighter to see combat.

More than 1,100 exhibitors from 37 countries will present their planes both on the ground and in the air during the five-day ILA trade fair and air show. Industry types had the run of the 250,000 square metre event on Tuesday, but the public will be allowed to gawk at jets, jumbos and choppers starting on Friday.