This blog is geared toward helping fellow enthusiasts identify spotting areas at airports. I've included shots I've taken from those spots to give you an idea of what kind of photos can be expected from each vantage point.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

RAF Cosford, England - (EGWC)

While this is still an active Royal Air Force base, there are really no aircraft based here except the volunteer glider squadron, an EMS helicopter, and a flying club.  However, there is a museum that rivals most any other within its boundaries.  Located just off the M54 motorway about 15 miles northwest of Birmingham in the Midlands, it is worth any and every side road used to get there!  There are no fewer than 50 unique aircraft presented within its hangars.

A beautiful gate guard in the form of a Bristol Britannia

Hey, this looks familiar!  A nice Dutch Navy P2V-7

HS Dominie T.Mk 1 XS709 - Retired here 2/11/2011

Lockheed C-130K Mk. 3 XV202 - Retired here 8/12/2011

Gloucestershire, England - (EGBJ/GLO)

This small airport is just off the M5 motorway about 30 miles north of Bristol.  Manx2 is the only commercial service as of now operating 2x daily with a Dornier 228 to the Isle of Man. (Equipment sub the day I was there to a Let-410)  Most of the hangars and ramp areas are located on the SE side of the airfield making it a morning or early afternoon shooting affair.  Always worth a stop if you're like me and don't live closer than 3,000 miles away.

OK-RDA - Let-410 of Manx2 taxiing to the runway

Normally a shot I wouldn't take but the pilot would not get out of the way!

Blackbushe, England - (EGLK/BBS)

This general aviation airport is situated a short ways from Farnborough, just north across the M3 motorway. (about 10 minutes driving time)  Of course, as every airport is worth a look I made the trek.  Situated right next to the knee level fence were 2 Cessna Citations as well as many smaller GA aircraft.  As the aerodrome is just off the road, it would always be worth a stop just to take a peek.

G-THNX - A classically registered CitationJet (Gee, Thanks!)

G-FBLK - Citation Mustang

Friday, February 3, 2012

London/Luton, England - (EGGW/LTN)

One of London's many airports, Luton caters mostly to the spotters who are looking for "monster biz frames" as this airport attracts business jets from all over the world on a daily basis.  It still is a commercial airport but you are relegated to discount carriers EasyJet, Wizzair, and Ryanair.  Monarch and Thompson have a maintenance facility here so you never know what types will be in for them.  Again, as with most airports in the U.K. this airport's spotting locations are well known and can be located on the internet with ease:

The day I showed up, they were operating off runway 08 which made for some great shots taken from the crash gate on the south side of the airport.  Due to the close proximity to the runway you can expect to get even the smallest mustang-like jet with a lens no bigger than a 300mm, with most subjects being a short 125mm-200mm away.

EAT Leipzig's newly acquired A300-600R D-AEAG
OE-GVF - Lear 60 of Austrian operator VistaJet

HB-VOJ - Hawker 850XP

G-OBYG - An empty Thompson 767-300 getting airborne quickly

ZS-AJZ - South African registered GLF5 

HZ-MS4 - GLF4 from Saudi Arabia

HA-LWA - Airbus A320 of WizzAir

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Manchester, England (EGCC/MAN)

First Choice 767-300
I had the opportunity to visit this great airport whilst on business and the weather even cooperated.  Being a UK airport and spotting being such a huge hobby over here, this airport has been covered in depth.  I found this information to be quite helpful in my search for spotting areas:

The following were taken from the hill as described on that site as "South Side runway 2".  They were only using runway 5L the day I visited which requires a fairly sizable lens. (at least 200mm for A380 and 300mm for narrow bodies)

Emirates A380  A6-EDR landing 5L
Thomas Cook A330 G-OMYT departing 5L

Jet2 737-300 G-CELI landing 5L

KLM retro scheme 737-800 PH-BXA arriving 5L

While I was standing in the same location, the runway was switched from 5L to 23R.  When this happens it effectively cuts down the amount of shots you can get as you are quite a ways down toward the departure end of 23R.  Only heavies roll long on landing as evidenced by the following Qatar shot and most narrow bodies are quite high by the time they pass you.  The only real good opportunities are when the heavies depart as they have a longer takeoff roll.

Qatar A330 A7-AEI at the end of its landing roll on 23R

FlyBe E-170 G-FBJC having just departed 23R

Icelandair 757-200 TF-FIT just airborne off 23R

US Airways A330-300 N275AY on its way to KPHL from 23R
The sun is brilliant for most of the day from this location.  It will depend on the time of year as to how much sun you get per day. EGCC sits at a latitude that makes for short days in the winter and much longer ones in the summer.  I visited in January and wasn't able to start shooting until about 0900 and the sun started making long shadows around 1300.  At that point you can pop over to the other side of the runway at park at the official Airport Viewing Area at a cost of 3 Pounds per hour (quite steep) and try your luck as the aircraft vacate the runway or taxi by you on the way for departure.  All the aircraft actually on the runway are still somewhat backlit as evidenced by the Air France A320 shot below as an example of the poor light.

Example of how poor the light is from the Airport Viewing Area
when the aircraft are on the parallel taxiway or runway.
A Monarch A321 on the 45 degree taxiway showing the sun possibility
in the late afternoon from the Airport Viewing Area.
This Ryanair 737-800 is shown taxiing from the runway to the
stand in the late afternoon from the viewing park.
Overall this airport has probably the best vantage points of any airport in the UK with a good amount of traffic as well.  And because the spotting hobby is so big over here, you can be pretty much be anywhere outside the perimeter fence and the police just drive by, smile, and wave.  Not being hassled over and over makes for quite a pleasant and enjoyable day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Billings, MT - KBIL

This unique regional airport sits atop a mesa 600 feet above the city.  There is one main air carrier runway which runs east/west (10L/28R) that provides for some great light in the winter. (Just bring a parka) The public viewing area is just off Airport Rd near the approach end of 28R and is clearly marked. Shots can be had from 10L departures or 28R arrivals. 

N169HQ - Republic Airways E-190 departing 10L in high summer sun.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Manchester, NH - KMHT

Located a short 45 miles north of Boston's Logan Airport lies this quaint little regional airport.  Now known as Manchester Boston Regional Airport due to it's geographic location in the region, it's main traffic consists of Southwest.  Traffic has declined here over the years, but if you enjoy runway-side action, it's worth a stop in your travels through the northeast. 

The main viewing area is co-located with the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire and sits alongside runway 17/35.  The sun swings quite early from this vantage point and is really only good for a couple of hours in the morning.

N571FE - FedEx MD-10F rotating runway 35 
N415NP - Nie Planes Lear 60 taxing to runway 35
There is also a crossing runway (06/24) that provides for good views when in use.  There isn't an official viewing area but if you drive towards the main terminal you'll see a health club parking lot you can spot from.  Keep in mind it is not an official viewing area and if asked to leave, do so.
N806MD - Republic Airways E170 holding short runway 6
(Photo by: Eric Trum)

N154GJ - GoJets CRJ-700 landing runway 6
(Photo by: Eric Trum)