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A Lufthansa Airbus A380 takes off from Frankfurt International Airport. The A380 is the world's largest passenger plane.
A Lufthansa Airbus A380 takes off from Frankfurt International Airport. The A380 is the world's largest passenger plane. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
A Lufthansa Airbus A380 takes off from Frankfurt International Airport. The A380 is the world's largest passenger plane.
A Lufthansa Airbus A380 takes off from Frankfurt International Airport. The A380 is the world's largest passenger plane. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
People on the visitors terrace at Frankfurt Airport watch a Lufthansa Airbus A380 taxi to its starting position. The A380, the world's largest passenger plane, is still a major draw on the terrace.
People on the visitors terrace at Frankfurt Airport watch a Lufthansa Airbus A380 taxi to its starting position. The A380, the world's largest passenger plane, is still a major draw on the terrace. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
A Japan Airlines passenger jet rolls to its gate as a Lufthansa plane travels down the runway in the background. The three-fingered structure between the planes in the background is the Berlin Airlift Memorial.
A Japan Airlines passenger jet rolls to its gate as a Lufthansa plane travels down the runway in the background. The three-fingered structure between the planes in the background is the Berlin Airlift Memorial. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
When the planes are taking off to the east, you can see a lot of the action from the food court at Frankfurt Airport’s Terminal 2. The food court includes what the airport claims is Europe’s largest McDonald’s restaurant.
When the planes are taking off to the east, you can see a lot of the action from the food court at Frankfurt Airport’s Terminal 2. The food court includes what the airport claims is Europe’s largest McDonald’s restaurant. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
A member of the ground crew at Frankfurt Airport cleans the cockpit windshield of a Korean Air jet.
A member of the ground crew at Frankfurt Airport cleans the cockpit windshield of a Korean Air jet. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Jets from Air Berlin and Japan Airlines are reflected in the window of Frankfurt Airport's Terminal 2.
Jets from Air Berlin and Japan Airlines are reflected in the window of Frankfurt Airport's Terminal 2. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
The tour bus becomes part of the heavy traffic at Frankfurt Airport, Europe's third busiest.

Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes
The tour bus becomes part of the heavy traffic at Frankfurt Airport, Europe's third busiest. Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
The new control tower at Frankfurt International Airport. With the new runway to the north of the airport due to open in October, the airport needed a new tower that could overlook all of its runways.
The new control tower at Frankfurt International Airport. With the new runway to the north of the airport due to open in October, the airport needed a new tower that could overlook all of its runways. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
An Ariana Afghan Airlines plane rolls to its parking position at Frankfurt Airport. More than 100 airlines flying to almost 300 destinations take off and land at the airport, the ninth busiest in the world.
An Ariana Afghan Airlines plane rolls to its parking position at Frankfurt Airport. More than 100 airlines flying to almost 300 destinations take off and land at the airport, the ninth busiest in the world. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
These little vehicles known as "Armeisen," or ants, can be seen all over Frankfurt Airport's flight line, usually pulling baggage carts and containers.
These little vehicles known as "Armeisen," or ants, can be seen all over Frankfurt Airport's flight line, usually pulling baggage carts and containers. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
Besides watching airplanes take off and land, visitors will find plenty of places to eat, drink and shop at  Frankfurt Airport. Seen here is Terminal 2's new shopping plaza.
Besides watching airplanes take off and land, visitors will find plenty of places to eat, drink and shop at Frankfurt Airport. Seen here is Terminal 2's new shopping plaza. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
A youngster tries to get a closer look at the busy flight line at Frankfurt Airport.
A youngster tries to get a closer look at the busy flight line at Frankfurt Airport. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
There is always plenty going on on the ground and in the air at Frankfurt Airport. The airport is Europe's third busiest after Heathrow in London and  Charles de Gaulle in Paris.
There is always plenty going on on the ground and in the air at Frankfurt Airport. The airport is Europe's third busiest after Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in Paris. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
People watch the action at Frankfurt Airport from the visitors terrace. The airport is Europe's third busiest after Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in Paris.
People watch the action at Frankfurt Airport from the visitors terrace. The airport is Europe's third busiest after Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in Paris. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
A view of Terminal 2 with its food court at Frankfurt Airport. The McDonald's at right is supposedly Europe's largest.
A view of Terminal 2 with its food court at Frankfurt Airport. The McDonald's at right is supposedly Europe's largest. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)
A United Airlines jet takes off from Frankfurt Airport. The airport is Europe's third busiest after Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in Paris.

Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes
A United Airlines jet takes off from Frankfurt Airport. The airport is Europe's third busiest after Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in Paris. Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

An airport is a fascinating place. People coming and going. Airplanes taking off and landing, being loaded and unloaded. It’s a place where people from around the world converge.

Frankfurt Airport — the third busiest in Europe after London Heathrow and Paris-Charles de Gaulle — is no different.

There are a few ways to watch the action at Frankfurt: There is the visitors terrace at Terminal 2, a bus tour that takes you along the flight line or you can just sit in one of the airport’s many bars, restaurants and cafes and watch traveling folk pass by.

Taking the 45-minute bus tour is not unlike taking a plane. You buy tickets, go through a security check and then you are on your way.

The bus joins the busy traffic pattern of vehicles serving and servicing the airplanes. It stops near the runway so you can get a closer look at aircraft taking off and landing.

It drives by the Lufthansa cargo area and past the giant maintenance hangar that can service six Boeing 747s at once.

Nearby is the new air-traffic-control tower. With a new runway due to open north of the airport in October, the new tower will be able to overlook all of the runways.

The bus loops around the new extension of Concourse A, where you get a look at jets pulling away from the gates.

The visitors terrace, once on top of Terminal 1, is now at Terminal 2, overlooking the gates.

From here you can see planes from more than 100 airlines land and take off, flying to almost 300 destinations around the world.

Families waiting for friends to arrive or depart are among the visitors here, but you will also see people with binoculars scanning the airport, scribbling notes into a little book, then popping up to the railing to take photos of planes. These are “tail watchers,” and watching planes is their passion. They note the type of aircraft, airline and tail number of the planes, hoping to see every plane that flies the skies.

abramsm@estripes.osd.mil

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