Intro During the late 1980's I visited Frankfurt airport twice, as it was a really great airport to photograph civil airliners. My first visit during spring of 1986, I made the long journey by train. I made it a weekend trip. Unfortunately the weather was not to corporative as most of the time it was cloudy but the photographic opportunities was good. A couple of years later (summer 1989) I revisited Frankfurt again, this time by car with a couple of aviation spotter friends and we decided to visit the viewings terrace and also visit the USAF open day at Rhein Main AFB across the airport. This time the weather was perfect and we enjoyed a great weekend taking pictures of some now legendary companies such as: such as TWA (L-1011), Panam (B737, A310, B747-200), Northwest, Delta (L-1011), Air Canada (L-1011) ect. The second day we visited the USAF ramp for the C5 Galaxy & C141 Starlifter static show and we enjoyed a typical American BBQ with coca cola and hamburgers. Both myself and my friends were on a low budget trip and we decided not to sleep in a hotel but instead sleep inside the car, which was parked under the tail of the Lufthansa Super Constellation D- ALAP, which was parked in front of the main terminal….those where the days!
Frankfurt am Main Airport (IATA: FRA, ICAO: EDDF), known in German as Flughafen Frankfurt am Main or Rhein-Main-Flughafen is a major international airport located close to Frankfurt am Main, Germany, 12 km (7.5 mi) southwest of the city centre. Run by Fraport, it is by far the busiest airport by passenger traffic in Germany, the third busiest in Europe and the ninth busiest worldwide in 2009. It serves the most international destinations in the world and is the second busiest airport in Europe by cargo traffic. The southern side of the airport, Rhein-Main Air Base, was a major USAF airlift base for the United States from 1947 until late 2005. It has since been acquired by Fraport.
The airport is directly located in the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region, Germany's second largest metropolitan region, which itself has a central location in the densely populated region of the west-central European megalopolis. Thereby, along with a strong rail and motorway connection, the airport serves as a major transportation hub to the greater region, less than two hours by ground to Cologne, the Ruhr Area, and Stuttgart. Plans are underway to expand Frankfurt Airport with a fourth runway and a new Terminal 3. First modifications to the airport to make it Airbus A380 compatible are completed, including the first building of a large A380 maintenance facility near the former U.S. Air Base. The work on the fourth runway has been delayed several times due to environmental concerns, but received approval in December 2007. The runway should go into operation in 2011. Frankfurt is a main hub of Lufthansa, the German national carrier. Lufthansa's secondary hub is Munich Airport where many key medium and long haul routes are available, lessening the need to crowded Frankfurt Airport.
The Rhein-Main Airport and Airship Base first opened in 1936 and was the second-largest airport in Germany (after Tempelhof Airport in Berlin) through World War II. Plans for the new airport in the south of Frankfurt existed as early as 1930, but they were not realized due to the Great Depression. After 1933 the plans were revived by the Nazi regime and they started the construction of the airport. Initially the airport was the main base for the airships LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin and LZ 129 Hindenburg, but the regular flights were discontinued after the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. During World War II the airport saw military use; from August to November 1944 the concentration camp Walldorf existed close to the airport where female prisoners were forced to work for the airport. After the war, it served as the main West German operations base for the United States Air Force's contribution to the Berlin Airlift. Since the main runway deteriorated due to the heavy use, a second runway was constructed during this time. The German Lufthansa finally recommenced their flights from Frankfurt in 1955.
The airport did not emerge as a major international hub until 1958, when its new passenger terminal (now Terminal 1) opened. The runways were extended to 3,000 meters in 1957 and further extended to 3,900 meters in the following years. A new terminal building was opened in 1958. In 1962 it was decided to build an even larger terminal building (Terminal Mitte), planned for 30 million passengers per year. The works on this terminal began in 1965 and it was opened to the public on 14 March 1972. Along with the new terminal, the Frankfurt Airport Regional station opened, making it the first airport train station to open in the former Federal Republic of Germany.
Planning for a new runway (18 West) began in 1973. This project spawned massive protests by residents and environmentalists. While the protests and related lawsuits were unsuccessful in preventing the construction of the runway, the "Startbahn West" protests were one of the major crystallization points for the German environmentalist movement of the 1980s. The protests even continued after the runway had been opened in 1984. Work on a new Terminal building began in 1990; the Terminal 2 was opened in 1994. The Frankfurt Airport long-distance station (Frankfurt Flughafen Fernbahnhof) was inaugurated in 1999. It's primarily used by long-distance Inter City Express trains while regional/commuter trains (S-Bahn) continue to use the nearby underground regional station. The Rhein-Main Air Base of the US Air Force was closed in 2005 and the property passed to Frankfurt airport.
For more info on spotting directions see also: Frankfurt – Main Directions http://www.scramble.nl/airports/publish/eddf.htm
General Info from Wikipedia