This large airbase near Kaiserslautern has been the US military airlift centre since these activities were moved here from Rhein-Main AB. The field is worthwhile year-round, specifically if you are into larger USAF transport aircraft. The base houses the 86th AW with C-130s and a mixture of VIP aircraft. Large numbers of AMC transporters with complementary civil cargo charters pass through on a regular basis. Be aware, Ramstein has quiet hours in weekends and holidays up until 1 pm! This is also broadcasted on the ATIS frequency, but not everyone has a scanner.
The base has two semi-parallel runways, close together. The older, 09/27, was out of service for years but was made operational again in 2008. Most parts of the original three shelter areas have been closed to aircraft, while larger aprons are being constructed for the many cargo flights. The lone but large apron in the south is the Hot Cargo Ramp. Nearly all of the perimeter is lined by forest and in many places far away from the aircraft.
Ramstein is conveniently situated near the Autobahnkreuz of A6 and A62 in Rheinland-Pfalz. The two motorway exits on our map are 13 (Landstuhl-Ost) and 14 (Kaiserslautern-Einsiedlerhof). Spots 1, 2, 6 and 7 are within reasonable walking distance from various train stations. Be aware, however, that if you are after landing shots and get here by rail with westerly winds, a very long hike may be necessary.
Around the Airport
The 08 landing offers opportunities for photos and serials. The position is situated near the main entrance of the base. From exit 13 of the A6, follow the signs "Air Base". When turning right to enter an elevated stretch of road, you enter the old spare runway that runs straight to the West Gate. Take a right at the next roundabout and park here, taking care not to block the gate. Follow the foot/cycle-path at your right to the approach end of runway 08. The last roundabout can also be reached by taking exit 9 (Ramstein-Miesenbach) of the A62 and following the signs "Air Base" from Ramstein village.
In case of bad weather or when lacking strong binoculars, position 2 offers an alternative to view the (tails of) the large transporters on the platform. To get here, take the L356 from Ramstein to Miesenbach and Mackenbach and park at 'Waldparkplatz Azur' opposite a swimming complex. From here, walk back along the road and then follow the canal. It might be obvious, but there is also a small path leading onto the fence right behind the parking lot, which might be confusing.
3Landings north-east side
This spot overlooks the runway ends from a slightly elevated position, so both departing and landing traffic can be seen from here. One can walk up and down a bit to find the best position, but the platforms will stay out of sight. Despite facing the sun most of the day, this is not a bad spot to take pictures of landing aircraft from the east, since the hills of Kindsbach are in the background. Smaller planes like the C-21 will need some 500mm effective to fill the frame.
By September 2011, a guardrail had been placed along the road for several hundreds of meters, rendering the clearing near the railway tracks unuseable for parking. To drive here nevertheless, take exit 14 of the A6 (Kaiserslautern-Einsiedlerhof) and proceed west towards the airfield. This is straight ahead at the roundabout when coming from Kaiserslautern, and left at the roundabout when coming from Landstuhl. The spot is where the road (Auf der Weilerbacher Brücke) bends to the right.
4East & South Ramps
The first left after the roundabout described with spot 3 leads to spot 4. This is opposite the former road-side flower shop, where concrete blocks now prevent parking. The road is officially restricted to local traffic and deliveries to the base. The legal option therefore is to try and park at what space is left close to where the flower shop used to be, and walk the rest. Spot 4 is 1km down the road at the approach lights for 26. From here, tail numbers of aircraft on Ramp 1 and 2 (east side) can be read off, and so are those of large freighters on Hot Cargo. For a better look at that southern apron, move along another few hundred meters towards the gate at the end.
Quite a nice photo spot. From spot 4, move south through the runway centreline(s) and find your place in the clearing. If you decide to drive here, chances are the Polizei will have you remove your car, and possibly fine you. The additional distance to cover from spot 4 is some 500m.
Since vegatation has taken out the view from Kindsbach hill (and former pizzeria "Rosanna", ex "Massimo", "Da Francesco" and "Da Tony" has been taken over by Khao Thai Cuisine ;-) that spot is out of use, and this Aussichtspunkt right above the village of Landstuhl is the place to be for number crunchers. That is, provided you bring something like a 60x pole (C-17s and C-5s are no problem with 30x), you can read off the aircraft parked on the platforms, and generally anything going in or out.
To drive here from Landstuhl, take the L363 towards Bann. This road makes a U-turn along the hill slopes towards the base again. After that turn, exit at Zur Melkerei and drive into the village. Turn left at the first full crossing and right at the third street after that, Am Steinbruch. This leads straight to the viewing point, the last part to be walked.
Another remote position with a complete overview of the base. Aircraft on the ramps are readable from here too, with powerful optics. To abuse this cultural place for some good old long-distance spotting, follow the signs from the center of Landstuhl or just find your way up on the southern side of the hill that the castle is on.
The third remote position, to complete the log of aircraft on the ramps or for special-effect photos. With a steady hand, clear weather and a serious telephoto lens aircraft on final 08 can be captured here in a dramatic way. The centreline is at least 2 km away.
In the centre of Landstuhl, find the Luitpoldstrasse with signs towards the town's Bismarck Turm. This street begins just south of the junction where the road to Kindsbach turns to the east. Follow the signs uphill to the parking lot. The tower is just a few minutes' walk from here and overlooks the base.
A USNavy C-130 landing at Runway 26. Picture shot at position 5.
(Nico van Remmerden)
After returning from Afghanistan, some Apaches perform test flights. This picture was taken near spot 1. (Perry Dirkx)
|308.775 / 121.775||Ground|
|386.750 / 133.200||Tower|
|257.800 / 122.100||Tower (alt)|
|140.900 / 124.275||GCA|
|356.225 / 129.050||GCA (alt)|
|256.675 / 129.675||Langen Radar|
|292.275 / 142.125||ATIS|
|372.675||Ramstein Gateway Command Post|
|355.800 / 131.975||AMC Airlift AMCC|
|+ C-130s on TDY|
|J-245||F-16A, on base on pole|
|Ramstein Air Base||Official website|
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