While moseying though airliners.net, I stumbled down a rabbit hole…a 1980s East German TV services called Treffpunkt Flughafen (Airport Meeting Point) that explores the life of an IL-62 crew flying for Interflug, the flag carrier of the DDR (East Germany).
Treffpunkt Flughafen, A 1980s East German Reality TV Series On Interflug
I’ve written about Interflug before, the fascinating East German airline that had a fleet of Soviet jets and offered service across Europe and to destinations.
Between 1985 and 1986, East Germany produced eight episodes of a “reality TV” program called Treffpunkt Flughafen, which starred the flight crew of an Interflug Ilyushin Il-62, a Russian-made jet that was a staple of Cold War travel under the Soviet sphere of influence.
The stories were fictionalized, but showcased the glamorous (and often dramatic) lives of flight attendants and flight deck crew (it appeared the IL-62 had four pilots and a navigator…). Not all scenes take place at airports or onboard airplanes, but it was fun to see vintage airlines and the classic airliners at the East German Berlin-Schönefeld Airport (now closed with the opening of Berlin Brandenburg).
Here’s a preview of the series:
And the episode I watched:
The irony of Treffpunkt Flughafen was that East Germans had to live vicariously through TV shows like this because they were not allowed to leave. Departing East Germany, at least when heading west, required an exit visa. Fearing brain drain, these exit passes were rarely issued (hello Berlin Wall…) and required special connections. Even permitted destinations like Cuba and Angola were beyond the reach of most East Germans due to the high cost of travel.
But through Treffpunkt Flughafen, East Germans could see life outside the DDR–and of course be reminded at the end of the day how happy crews were to return to East Germany. It helps to speak German, but I quite enjoyed my first taste of this series.
It’s hard for me to conceptualize what it was like to fly behind the Iron Curtain, though this TV series, fictional and idealized, nevertheless helps. I wish I had the the time to binge watch all eight episodes, but I certainly enjoyed the episode above.