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Go Aero

Check out Germany's GA show

Editor's note: Aero Friedrichshafen has been postponed indefinitely, show organizers announced March 6. The show was postponed because of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.

If you love a nice, big aviation show and traveling abroad, fly to Germany to visit Aero Friedrichshafen.

  • A display of vintage gliders. Photography by the author.
  • Extra’s display at AERO in 2019.
  • The Horten aircraft.
  • Reproduction of Gustav Weisskopf's 21B.
  • ATOS exhibiting their gliders.
  • The Junkers F 13 on the show floor.
  • A Schempp Hirth Arcus hanging from the ceiling.
  • Lift-off. The Zeppelin NT rises above its shadow.
  • Approaching Mainau by boat.
  • The waterfall of flowers on the Mainau.
  • One of many species of butterflies to be found in the butterfly house on the Mainau.
  • Walking the Mainau in spring.
  • Evening mood at the terrace of the Hotel Engel in Langenargen.

Aero Friedrichshafen rises to the top for several reasons. The airy, modern exhibit halls are located next to the airport, so visitors can roam the halls and walk to the static display. As far as exhibits go, a special segment called e-flight expo has been growing steadily over the years, showcasing the latest electric vertical-lift aircraft and power, (including manned and unmanned varieties). All the traditional manufacturers are also present with aircraft displays. There’s a special area for gliders, and then there are the inspiring, beautiful designs like the Horten flying wing and the new Junkers F 13.

Should you tire of all that buzz, step out to the courtyard between the exhibit halls, and enjoy pretzels, authentic German cuisine, and maybe a beer. When you stroll over to the static display, don’t forget to peek into the huge hangar housing the gentle giants of the air, the Zeppelin NTs. You’ll probably spot them overhead as well: They fly several trips a day.

Bring the family, because part of the beauty of Aero is its location. Friedrichshafen lies on the shore of Lake Constance in the foothills of the Alps. The alpine lakeshore is shared by Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, making the area a year-round vacation destination. The city itself offers boardwalks, lakeside dining, and breathtaking views, as well as the Zeppelin museum. The area is a paradise for hikers, bicyclists, in-line skaters, and mountain climbers. Hop on one of the boats crisscrossing the lake and visit the island of Mainau, famous for its gardens, orchid and butterfly houses, or explore charming Lindau or the Austrian city of Bregenz. Wineries and distilleries abound, and welcome visitors.

If you want to spoil yourself, book a ride on a Zeppelin NT. It’s hands-down the best and most relaxing way to appreciate the beauty of the area. Trips vary in length, but even the shortest one will give you a wonderful view over Lake Constance and the majestic peaks of the Alps. The ticket office is right next to the hangar, so you can’t miss it. Book early—trips sell out quickly.

Did I make you curious? I hope to see you there. Please introduce yourself if you see me (I’ll be the one in the black AOPA shirt at the AOPA booth); I’d love to hear what you think.

If you go

Where to stay

Evening mood at the terrace of the Hotel Engel in Langenargen.

If you like a bit of buzz, by all means stay in Friedrichshafen proper. For a bit of a retro experience, though, you should opt for one of the tiny villages in the vicinity. There are spas around, but the majority of places to stay are family-owned, small hotels. The atmosphere is reminiscent of the 1950s, with a promenade along the lake and weekly markets included. Langenargen and Kressbronn are typical examples. Situated right on the shore of Lake Constance and only 20 minutes away from Friedrichshafen they offer all amenities in a laid-back setting.

Akzent Hotel Löwen

Hotel Engel

Seevital Hotel Schiff

Where to eat

Friedrichshafen offers an abundance of cafés and restaurants along the lake. For a simple dinner on a lake-view terrace, both Hotel Restaurant Engel and Loewen in Langenargen are perfect. A more elegant setting can be found at Schloss Montfort, just a short walk away. The local specialty is a freshwater fish called “Felchen” (perch), usually the day’s catch from the lake.

Schloss Montfort

What to do

View over Lake Constance and the Alps from the Zeppelin's back window.

To book a ride on one of the Zepplin NTs:

Deutsche Zeppelin-Reederei GmbH

Visit Lake Constance’s islands or cities:

Bodensee Schifffahrt

Check out a distillery:

Edelbrennerei Gierer

Sylvia Schneider Horne
Digital Media Editor
Sylvia Schneider Horne is a digital media editor for AOPA's eMedia division.
Topics: International Travel, AERO Friedrichshafen

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