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, 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.