Spotting at JFK Terminal 5

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting Trip Reports, USA | Posted on 25-11-2015


JFK Terminal 5 JetBlue

Spotting at JFK Terminal 5 (JetBlue)

I recently flew out of New York JFK’s Terminal 5 following a family holiday. I had the opportunity to check out the spotting opportunities here and take some pictures to report back for this post.

Spotting at JFK Terminal 5 is actually quite easy and first off, I didn’t have any problems with security or other passengers by discretely using binoculars and a camera. In fact, there was another spotter using the opportunity to take some pictures of passing aircraft using a large camera lens while I was there.

Terminal 5

New York JFK’s Terminal 5 is home to JetBlue Airways. It is one of the newer facilities at the airport, having superseded the original TWA Flight Center terminal and the hasty extension which was put up to handle expansion.

Outside T5 you can still see the TWA Flight Center, which (as we reported recently) is soon to be turned into an airport hotel and business center.

Other airlines using Terminal 5 include Aer Lingus (whom I was flying on this visit) and Hawaiian Airlines.


Landside Spotting


View of A380s at JFK Terminal 4, seen from outside Terminal 5.

At the departures level there is a smoking area next to the entrance and kerbside drop-off at Terminal 5. This overlooks a couple of the gates, a runway and taxiway in the distance, and some gates at Terminal 4. As you can see from the picture above, these were dominated by international airlines, including Airbus A380s and other wide-bodies.

JFK Terminal 5 AirTrain.

Spotting at JFK Terminal 5 AirTrain walkway.

At the opposite end of the terminal a walkway links Terminal 5 to the AirTrain people mover which links all of the terminals. From the elevated position there are some good views across to the British Airways Terminal 7, and runway 13L/31R. You also have some distant views of some cargo and remote parking aprons.


Airside Spotting

Once through security it is quite easy to spot at Terminal 5. All three concourses can be walked along, allowing you to log aircraft parked at the gates.

Places which are particularly good for spotting include:

Spotting at JFK

Terminal 5 view near gate 30.

Gate 30. From here you can see Terminal 7 and runway 13L/31R.

Delta 717

A Delta Boeing 717 taxies past gate 15 at JFK Terminal 5.

Gate 15. Soft seats and a panoramic view of aircraft passing on the adjacent taxiway. A lot of Delta aircraft pass here on the way to Terminal 4. You can also see aircraft using runways 04L/22R, 04R/22L and the end of runway 13L/31R here. Photography is easy given the close proximity.

Behind you, close to gates 11 and 12, you can see across to the Delta terminal and runway 13R/31L beyond.


T5 Rooftop

View of British Airways terminal from T5 Rooftop.

T5 Rooftop

Whilst enjoying the views I heard a couple of automated announcements for the “T5 Rooftop”. Curious as to what it might be, I wandered along to gate 28. There I found a door with a sign and the hours of operation, so wandered through expecting a plane spotter’s paradise.

JFK Terminal 5 Rooftop

What I found was, in fact, just a dog walking/smoking area which faced the roadside area. Walking to the end I could see across to the British Airways terminal, but the view was limited and nothing compared to what was offer (in the warmth) at gate 30.


Other places for spotting at JFK

We recently put together this full guide to spotting at New York JFK Airport, which is especially useful for locations outside the airport.

Minneapolis St Paul spotting area opens

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 07-11-2015


Minneapolis St Paul Spotting Area

Minneapolis St Paul Spotting Area by Emmanuel Canaan

Minneapolis St Paul Spotting Area by Emmanuele Canaan

Photo by Emmanuel Canaan

Minneapolis St. Paul Airport in Minnesota has enamored itself to local plane spotters and enthusiasts by opening a new place to watch aircraft on airport property.

“I’ve always thought MSP Airport should have a place for the public to watch airplanes land and takeoff,” said Dan Boivin, Chair of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, at a ribbon cutting event. “When MSP first opened its doors for commercial air travel, people were able to come right up to the fence. Then, when Terminal 1-Lindbergh was constructed, we offered an indoor observation deck to anyone who wished to make the trip to the airport. But since 2002, when new security regulations were put in place, we haven’t had a designated public space for this activity – until now.”

The Minneapolis St Paul spotting area includes parking, picnic tables, and benches. Trees have been planted that, when mature, will provide shade and natural beauty – perhaps not ideal during the typically harsh winters the area experiences, but no doubt very much welcome by local spotters.

Views available from the spotting area include all four runways, plus terminals 1 and 2. The airport said that they had seen the need for such a place when observing spotters finding spaces alongside the roads and Cell Phone Lot at the airport trying to find good vantage points.

Access to the viewing area is from the west side of the airport. To get to the viewing area from Richfield or Cedar Avenue, travel on 66th St. east to Longfellow Avenue and follow Longfellow south to Cargo Road. Follow Cargo Road to its end at the new viewing area. From Bloomington or I-494, take 24th Ave. north to 77th St. Take 77th St. west to Longfellow Road, and follow Longfellow north to Cargo Road. Turn right on Cargo Road and follow it to the new viewing area, located just past and the Federal Express shipping facility.

The airport has produced a handy map with driving instructions. Download it here:

The space is open every day, dawn to dusk.

Photographs on this post are kindly provided by the excellent aviation photographer Emmanuel Canaan. Check out his website!


World Airports Spotting Guide Book

Spotting at Burlington Airport, Vermont

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting Trip Reports, USA | Posted on 04-11-2015


Burlington Spotting Guide

Burlington Airport is the busiest and largest in Vermont, one of the New England states. I recently visited and checked out the opportunities for spotting here, and what the airport had to offer.

Whilst it is the busiest in Vermont, Burlington is not a major airport by any means, handling about 640,000 passengers in 2014. But it does have some interesting movements and aircraft to see.

Burlington has two runways – 15/33 is the main strip which most movements use, whereas 1/19 is a smaller cross runway used by light aircraft movements.

On the north side of the airport is the Burlington Air National Guard base, which is home to a squadron of F-16 jets. There are a few historic jets preserved outside, which can be seen from the terminal and car parks.

The main airlines flying to Burlington are Allegiant Air, American Eagle, Delta/Delta Connection, JetBlue, Porter Airlines and United/United Express. Most of these use commuter regional jets, but larger types are common in the summer months on seasonal services. On my visit there were four airliner movements, two each by American Eagle and Delta Connection, and both using Bombardier CRJ aircraft.

FedEx is the main cargo operator, and on my visit a Boeing 757 freighter was parked outside the cargo hangar. Close to it were around six business jets parked up.

General aviation and flight training is popular at Burlington, with aircraft parked up to the south of the terminal.



Spotting at Burlington

Surprisingly I found that spotting at Burlington was not a problem, and in fact there were facilities in place to aid in watching aircraft!

Spotting at Burlington - Dog Walking Park

Spotting at Burlington – Dog Walking Park

I had already noted the Air National Guard base before visiting, so decided to keep a low profile when it came to pointing cameras and binoculars about. My first stop was the Dog Walking Park situated on the western side of the runway about half a mile north west of the terminal. It is at the end of Kirby Road, and has car parking alongside the enclosed park which faces the airport perimeter fence, runway and parallel taxiway. This was a great spot to take some pictures of aircraft at close quarters as they taxied for takeoff, and didn’t seem to raise any suspicion from people walking dogs.

Spotting at Burlington - Car Park

Spotting at Burlington – Car Park

A seat for watching the aircraft in the multi-storey car park at Burlington Airport.

A seat for watching the aircraft in the multi-storey car park at Burlington Airport.

Next, I drove to the airport’s multi-storey car park and made my way to the highest level from where you have a grandstand view over the airfield. You can see the runways, Air National Guard base, cargo apron and light aircraft parking. Aircraft parked at the terminal gates are obscured, but you can see them if they taxi. Around half way up the car park, I found a park bench situated in one of the corners for those who want to watch the aircraft.

Spotting at Burlington

The seating area in the walkway from the car park

Inside the terminal there are three areas for watching aircraft. The first is the northern walkway from the car park, which has seats overlooking one of the gates.

Spotting at Burlington

Seats next to the windows inside the terminal.

At the southern end of the terminal is a room which also has seats facing a window looking over some more gates.

Spotting at Burlington Observation Tower

Spotting at Burlington Observation Tower

In what was presumably the former control tower, an observation room has been created. I found it by chance, but it is signposted and accessed via a steep set of stairs. Inside you have views over the whole airfield. The glass is slanted, but acceptable for photography. It was nice to see an airport in the USA providing opportunities to watch aircraft in comfort!

Finally, continuing south from the terminal along Airport Dr, you will see some light aircraft parked on remote areas not visible from the other locations. The small Eldredge Cemetery and its access road have views through the fence.



World Airports Spotting Guides on Kindle

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Book Reviews | Posted on 06-10-2015



Our recent book release, World Airports Spotting Guides, is now available on Kindle.

At present you can pre-order it ready for its release on 16th October. Click here to order.


As a reminder, World Airports Spotting Guides is a concise and all-encompassing guide to over 300 of the world’s best airports for spotting. It includes the big hubs as well as many smaller regional, GA, biz, cargo and storage airports.

With each one, a description is given of the best places to spot aircraft from, and what kind of aircraft you’re likely to see.

Over 50 of the airports have maps and lots more detail, such as the best spotting hotels and aviation museum attractions nearby.

Ordering World Airports Spotting Guides on Kindle gives you the complete guide in an electronic format, easy for travelling with.

What’s more, if you’ve already bought the print version from Amazon, you can get the Kindle version at a vastly reduced price!


Spotting at Tarbes Lourdes Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, France, Spotting Trip Reports, Western Europe | Posted on 02-10-2015


Tarbes Lourdes Spotting Guide

Tarbes Lourdes is a regional airport in the south of France close to the Pyrennees, Andorra and the border with Spain. It is an airport worth visiting for spotters if you are in the area – not because of the regular aircraft traffic, but because it is an increasingly busy airport for storing and dismantling large airliners from around the world.

This guide to spotting at Tarbes Lourdes Airport will show you how to make the most of your visit and where the best places are for viewing aircraft.


The Airport

Tarbes Lourdes has a single, long runway, oriented 02/20. On the eastern side is the passenger terminal, general and business aviation terminal, and associated airport operations.

The western side is home to a large hangar and pans for parking aircraft.

The situation of the airport is quite spectacular, with the Pyrennees as a backdrop. It certainly helps liven up photographs, and there are a few locations to help with spotting on the ground.


Spotting at Tarbes Lourdes

Regular Traffic

Lourdes is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics and, as such, receives a regular stream of aircraft in relation to this. Pilgrims arrive on organised trips from airports all over Europe. These are usually flown on chartered aircraft from both French and international carriers. The mix is too varied and irregular to list here individually, but often includes airlines such as Air Medieterranee, Titan Airways, Germania, and Mistral Air.

Scheduled traffic is provided by Air France regional partner Hop!, which links to Paris a few times per day. TNT provides a cargo link.

In the summer there are a number of additional services by airlines such as Jetairfly, Enter Air, Ryanair, Air Nostrum, Albastar and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium.



Tarbes Lourdes is now an important base for the storage and dismantling of airliners – in particular wide-body Airbus types, such as the A330 and A340.

Tarmac Aerosave operates a large hangar on the western side of the runway. This is the same company that operates the storage facility at Teruel Airport in Spain.

Many of the aircraft will find new homes, but a lot are also dismantled for spares on site, so it’s not uncommon to see fuselages and parts of aircraft lying around. One of the biggest problems I found whilst spotting at Tarbes Lourdes was the fact that many of the aircraft had their registrations removed, so it took a bit of effort to find some other identifying markings, such as fleet or construction numbers on the nosewheel doors. Many have also been given a temporary F- registration.

In addition to the aircraft stored on the west side of the runway, a number are also stored on a strip of apron to the south of the terminal.

On my visit there were 37 stored airliners visible, of which 27 were Airbus A340 variants (including the A340-600 prototype, F-WWCA). The rest were made up of Airbus A300 (2), A319 (1), A320 (1), A330 (3), Boeing 737 (2), McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (1).


Spotting at Tarbes Lourdes Airport


There are a few places to spot at Lourdes. It’s best if you have a car, but not essential. This map gives you an idea of the best locations I found.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 1

1. This is the place to go if you don’t have a car. The road ramp leading from the car park to the departures level of the passenger terminal has a good, elevated view across to the storage area. Whilst it’s hard to see registrations from here, it gives you a good overview of what’s parked on the western side.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 2

2. If you have a car, drive from the terminal and keep going straight. You’ll come to a small roundabout. Instead of joining the motorway, take the first exit and follow the road around the perimeter. At the next roundabout, turn right into an industrial estate. Then turn right again at the T-junction. An area of wasteground here offers a good view of the line of stored aircraft along this part of the airport. It’s also a good place to watch any movements on the runway.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 3

3. Continuing along the perimeter road, take a right at the next roundabout. The road turns into pretty much a stone track here. Where it turns left towards Ossun, take a right and you’ll come to a crash gate. Don’t linger here too long, but you’ll be able to see a few more of the parked airliners.

Tarbes Lourdes Spotting

Spotting location 4

4. Continue along the track parallel to the runway (not towards Ossun). This will be hemmed in by tall crops in the late summer, but eventually you’ll reach the back of Tarmac Aerosave. You can’t go in, but there are fleeting glimpses of aircraft parked around the hangar here – especially of those being dismantled.

Driving on, across the railway line, will eventually complete the loop of the airport, taking you back to the terminal or the N21 motorway.


Spotting Guide Bookdestin3d

Tarbes Lourdes is just one of over 300 airports to feature in my new World Airports Spotting Guides book. Find out more here:

The book has detailed spotting locations, maps, spotting hotels, museums and much more.

World Airports Spotting Guides OUT NOW

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Book Reviews | Posted on 31-08-2015


Our new book World Airports Spotting Guides is out now!


Like our previous titles, the book is a comprehensive guide to where to spot at many airports. This time the coverage is worldwide, and we’ve increased the quantity to over 300 airports!

With each airport, there is a description of the airport and what you’re likely to see there, as well as advice on where to spot. With many of the airports this goes into plenty of detail, and includes a map and details of the best spotting hotels.

Whats more, if an airport has a museum or preserved collection of aircraft, this is also detailed, with opening times and admission prices.

Thanks to a successful pre-order campaign, many readers of this blog will have received their copies of the book.

However, if you still need to buy one, it is available here.

Alternatively, you can get it on Amazon, and from a range of specialist aviation shops.


If you have bought a copy, we’d really appreciate it if you left a review on Amazon as this helps the book get found by more spotters. Please also share this link on Twitter and Facebook with other spotters that you think would like to know about it!

World Airports Spotting Book – One Week To Go

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Book Reviews, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Equipment Reviews | Posted on 05-08-2015



Since I announced the sneak peak at my upcoming World Airports Spotting Guides book last month, the response has been fantastic.

We’ve had lots of pre-orders for the book, and lots of comments of support from eager spotters who are looking forward to getting their hands on the book.


Pre-Order Now. Free Gift!

If you read the original post, you’ll notice that I hinted that it would be worth your while pre-ordering, rather than waiting for the book to be released before getting your copy.

The reason for this is that everyone who orders in advance will receive a free gift from me. Yes, that’s right. A new digital product being developed here at Airport Spotting Blog that will go on sale later in the year will be given free of charge to everyone who pre-orders World Airports Spotting Guides! The only way to get it after launch date will be to buy it.

But that’s not all…

Everyone who pre-orders will also be in with a chance of winning a 1/400 scale model from GeminiJets! The lucky winner will be drawn at random and awarded this brand new airliner model.

So there’s every reason to order your copy straight away!

Pre-orders for World Airports Spotting Guides will close one week from the day of this post, on 12th August.


What’s it all about?

In case this is new to you, World Airports Spotting Guides is a brand new book written and researched for aircraft spotters full of useful and practical information on where to spot at airports around the world. Specifically it includes:

  • Over 300 airports
  • Detailed spotting locations
  • Maps of many of the airports
  • Spotting hotel suggestions and details of views
  • Museums and other attractions located at airports

The world airports spotting book features airports both small and large, from mega hubs to regional gateways, from desert boneyards to cargo airports. I’ve deliberately picked the most interesting places to pursue your hobby.


If you’ve read any of my previous books you’ll know that the quality and research is great and you’ll be able to use this for both pre-trip planning and whilst on the go.

So don’t delay… pre-order World Airports Spotting Guides today. The next time I write about this, the book will be released and the bonus offers will be gone!


Spotting at Minsk National Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Belarus, Eastern Europe, Spotting Trip Reports | Posted on 29-07-2015


Minsk Airport Terminal

In May I travelled to Minsk National Airport at the end of an amazing flight on board the last scheduled Tupolev Tu-154 flight in Europe with Belavia (you can read about my trip here).

This was my first time visiting Minsk, so I took the opportunity to check out the spotting situation and make a note of what kind of things you can see.

Minsk National has a single runway, 13/31, with a series of aprons and taxiways along its north eastern side.

To the north is the main passenger terminal, which is in a semi-circular shape with jet bridges off the main building, remote stands at the north end and also opposite to the south.MinskERJ195

Further south is another large apron which was full of Ilyushin IL-76s, Antonov An-12s and a Boeing 747-200 on my visit. All of these were freighter aircraft operating for Ruby Star and TransAviaExport. However, a number of the aircraft on this ramp and parked to the side of it are currently in storage or withdrawn from use.

This made my visit quite interesting, as it’s not often you see 12 IL-76s all parked together these days. In addition, some more Belavia Tu-154s (some retired), including the Government example, were also visible a little further on.



Airlines and Operators

Naturally the biggest operator at Minsk is Belavia. It currently operates a fleet of Boeing 737-300, -500, -800, CRJ100, 200, and Embraer 175, 195 aircraft.

Other carriers with regular service include Aeroflot, Air China, Austrian Airlines, Etihad Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Turkmenistan Airlines, Ukraine International, and Uzbekistan Airways.

TransAvia and Ruby Star operate most of the cargo flights, but it’s not uncommon to see Turkish Airlines Cargo and other ad-hoc services by other carriers.

Minsk Airport 737s


Spotting at Minsk

Minsk National Airport Map

There are a few places to see aircraft at Minsk, but you should always be discrete as the hobby is not necessarily understood.

From the road leading up to departures level outside the terminal, as well as the open air car park to the north, it’s possible to see aircraft parked on the remote stands (1 on the map)

If you are flying from the airport, once in the departure lounge there are large windows overlooking the apron and the cargo/maintenance area beyond (2 on the map). You’ll also see movements on the runway.

Walking through the departures area, there are a number of gate areas which jut out towards the ramp. Each of these has a slightly different view of the cargo ramps, so it’s useful if a particular aircraft is eluding you.

Because this airport is quite remote (it is literally at the end of the motorway from the city), it is not easy to explore around the airfield without a local guide and car.

There are some withdrawn airliners at the southern end of the airfield, behind the maintenance hangars, including two former Belavia Tu-134s. These are just visible from aircraft taxiing to the runway if you look towards the trees.


The mix of active and stored Il-76s at Minsk National, as seen from the departure lounge.

Spotting from the terminal departure lounge at Minsk Airport

Spotting from the terminal departure lounge at Minsk Airport


Preserved Airliners

A really nice aspect of Minsk National Airport which was a pleasant surprise is its collection of preserved airliners representing Belarus aviation history. These are lined up alongside the main road just outside the terminal, each with a small information board; you can’t miss them, and it’s easy to wander over and take some pictures. The collection includes:

EW-85581, Tupolev Tu-154B-2, Belavia
EW-76709, Ilyushin IL-76T, TransAvia Export Cargo Airlines
EW-237CD, Antonov An-2R
EW-88202, Yakovlev 40S2, Miskavia
EW-47291, Antonov An-24RV, Gomelavia
CCCP-65036, Tupolev Tu-134A, Aeroflot

Minsk Preserved Tu-154


Minsk Preserved Tu-134

Many of these identities are not authentic to the aircraft’s actual history, having been painted as such for the sake of the collection. However, they are all in excellent condition.




Spotting Guide Bookdestin3d

Minsk is just one of over 300 airports to feature in my new World Airports Spotting Guides book. Find out more here:

The book has detailed spotting locations, maps, spotting hotels, museums and much more.

10 Airports You Need to Visit

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Colombia, Eastern Europe, France, Frankfurt, Germany, North America, North Korea, Portugal, South America, Turkey, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 05-07-2015


The world is full of such a variety of airports and each has its own appeal to spotters. I’ve put together this list of airports which every spotter should try to visit at some time to help enrich their aviation interests and make the most of their hobby.


1. Everett Paine Field

Paine Field Spotting

Home of Boeing’s widebodie production lines and the world’s largest building – currently responsible for producing 747s, 777s, 787s and the occasional 767. Once aircraft have been completed they are taken to the paint assembly building, and then placed outside whilst final preparations are made.

Aircraft undertake testing regularly once complete, so you’ll always see something of interest using the airport’s single main runway.

Aircraft that have been completed are sometimes placed in storage at the airport – seen recently with some early 787s and 747-8s. You may also be lucky to see the first Boeing 727 aircraft, which is preserved at the airport, along with a De Havilland Comet 4 and some other historic aircraft.

Head to the Future of Flight centre for a grandstand view over the airport. Here’s a post about spotting at Paine Field.


2. Pyongyang

Pyongyang Line-Up

It’s not the busiest, and some might be a little sensitive about the way North Korea is run, but purely from an enthusiast’s point of view this is a very interesting place. Air Koryo, the national carrier, still flies classic Russian types such as the Tu-134, Tu-154, Tu-204, IL-62 and IL-18.

Pyongyang airport recently opened its brand new terminal, which looks much more akin to those found in the West. But to be able to experience the aircraft here you’ll need to take part in an organised tour, such as those on offer with Juche Travel Service.


3. London City

London City Airport Morning Ramp

The British capital is served by many airports, but London City is by far one of the world’s more unusual. Built on a former dock at the heart of the city, it makes for a challenging and restricted environment to operate large airliners in. Yet every day aircraft arrive from across Europe, and even New York. Its location among the skyscrapers of London’s financial district means the short runway requires a steep approach angle and only certified aircraft are permitted to operate there.

It’s easy to watch aircraft come and go here from the docks opposite the runway, or under the approach paths at either end.

Here’s a post about London City Behind The Scenes.


4. Los Angeles International


With California’s amazing climate, endless sunshine, and an incredible mix of aircraft, LAX should be on anyone’s list of must-visit airports.

Los Angeles has four runways and nine passenger terminals. Each major US airline has a decent presence here, as well as large airliners from across the globe, and leisure airlines from Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. On the south side of the airport, cargo airliners and biz jets complete the lineup.

Head to Imperial Hill or the In ‘n’ Out Burger restaurant for the best views. Here’s a post about spotting at Los Angeles.


5. Frankfurt Main

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

Germany’s busiest airport, and one of the main gateways to Europe. Like LAX, its mix is mouthwatering to the enthusiast, comprising all main European carriers, low-cost airlines, leisure carriers, cargo, regional, and long-haul traffic.

Spotting is not as good here as in days gone by, but the airport still provides two official locations – at Terminal 2 and alongside runway 18 – and there are some other good spots to watch aircraft.


6. Toulouse Blagnac

A350 © Airbus S.A.S 2013 Photo by H. Goussé

Europe’s busiest aircraft manufacturing airport. Most Airbus A319, A320, A330, A340 and A380 aircraft are constructed here, as well as ATR turboprops. Regular airline traffic isn’t much to write home about, but who cares when you’ve got airliners destined for all corners of the globe undergoing completion and flight testing in the southern France sun?

There are various places to watch aircraft around the airport perimeter, and an official viewing deck at the terminal. Plus, you can arrange tours of the Airbus plant, and visit historic aircraft at the on-site museum.


7. Funchal

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When space is limited, sometimes the only option is to build your airport runway on stilts. That’s exactly what heppend at Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean. When demand from leisure airlines grew, the runway was extended out from the cliff-side that it occupies to allow larger aircraft to be handled. The position of this airport also means aircraft take an interesting approach path before landing, often in crosswind conditions.

Spotters can position themselves on the hillside above the runway for some excellent photographs and videos.


8. Phoenix Deer Valley

Phoenix Deer Valley

Unlike other airports on this list, Deer Valley isn’t on the route map of lots of scheduled airlines or a place to see the latest Dreamliners and Airbus A380s. Yet it is one of the busiest airports in the world. In particular, it is actually the busiest airport in the world for biz jet movements, according to recent statistics.

So if you’re looking for something different, or like to log and photograph Citations, Global Expresses and Gulfstreams, this is the place to head to.

The Arizona airport has two runways and is in the north east of the city. You can watch movements from the official observation deck on top of the terminal building, which even pipes in ATC broadcasts.


9. Bogota


Probably the most interesting of South America’s main airports. Bogota, in Colombia, is a hub for Aviana, LAN Colombia, Copa Airlines and VivaColombia. This is great in itself, but the airport is also one of the last bastions for some older jets, like Boeing 727s of AeroSucre and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas, and F-28s and DC-3s of the Colombian Government.

The airport also has a nice collection of preserved aircraft on the military side of the airport.

Spotting is possible inside the terminal, or from the end of the runways if you have a car.


10. Istanbul Ataturk

Istanbul Spotting

Europe’s latest up-and-coming airport thanks mainly to the explosive growth of Turkish Airlines, which is trying to emulate what Middle East carriers are doing in connecting east and west. As such, this main base for the airline (it also operates from nearby Sabiha Gokcen Airport) sees a constant stream of the carrier’s red tails coming and going.

Traffic comprises a good mix of European and long-haul flights, with the vast majority naturally made up of Turkish Airlines and AtlasJet. The draw for enthusiasts is the growing fleet of the national airline, and the opportunity for photography in the warm climate. A good mix of cargo carriers can also be seen.

There are a number of places to spot from round the perimeter, as well as the excellent FlyInn shopping mall which is great for viewing and photographing aircraft from the cafe balcony. There is also a nice aviation museum on the southern boundary.


World Airports Spotting Guides

World Airports Spotting Guide

My upcoming book, World Airports Spotting Guides covers over 300 of the world’s airports, including details on what you can see there, and where to spot from. Many of the guides also include the best spotting hotels and aviation museum attractions. Find out more and pre-order the book here:

Where to spot at New York JFK Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, USA | Posted on 27-05-2015


Spotting at JFK

A while back we ran a request for tips on the best places to spot at New York JFK airport, and some of you kindly sent in information and photographs to help put together this guide.

Since the airport is such a complex place, it is quite difficult to spot at. But because it is one of the most diverse and interesting of any airport in the USA, it has an attraction to spotters who can find themselves number crunching the fleets of US carriers, catching up on cargo heavies, or admiring the airlines from all corners of the globe which arrive each day.



Airport Location and Layout

New York City Airports

JFK airport is situated in Queens, on Long Island. It is 12 miles from Lower Manhattan. Jamaica Bay borders the southern side of the airport, whilst urban sprawl borders the north.

The airport is connected to the road and rail network, and the best way to get to Manhattan is via the AirTrain. Otherwise taxis or car hire are good, if more expensive, options.

JFK airport has four runways:

  • 04L/22R
  • 04R/22L
  • 13L/31R
  • 13R/31L

Each runway is used depending on the airline and proximity to its gate, but at least half of all movements use 13R/31L.

JFK has six passenger terminals:

  • Terminal 1 – Asian and European carriers. A380 equipped.
  • Terminal 2 – Delta / Delta Connection
  • Terminal 4 – Delta, plus Middle Eastern, Asian, European and South African carriers. A380 equipped.
  • Terminal 5 – Jetblue, plus Aer Lingus, Hawaiian Airlines
  • Terminal 7 – British Airways, ANA, United Airlines, Qantas, Icelandair, Aerolineas Argentinas and Oneworld partners.
  • Terminal 8 – American Airlines and Oneworld partners

All terminals are located in a central area, surrounded by runways.

JFK terminal layout

Cargo and maintenance areas can be found at the western part of the airport, largely hidden amongst a sea of hangars and service buildings.


What you’ll see at JFK

The main carriers at JFK are American Airlines, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways and United Airlines. Together, these airlines handle nearly 70% of the passengers that fly though the airport each year. If you’re a registration spotter, these are the airlines you’re going to see the most aircraft of.

Spotters may also be interested in the good mix of airlines from elsewhere in the world. In addition to the main carriers of Europe and Asia, JFK is also a hub for South American and Caribbean flights, with Aeromexico, Avianca, Copa Airlines, LAN Airlines (and partners), TAM and Volaris.

Cargo airlines are also very prevalent, with very large freighters to be seen regularly. The main carriers are ABX, China Airlines, FedEx Express, Korean Air Cargo and Lufthansa Cargo. In all, around 100 cargo carriers use JFK.


Where to spot at New York JFK Airport

New York JFK spotting locations map

Locations away from the airport property are often the best for spotting at JFK, but require a car or a bit of knowledge of the public transportation system to get to.

Brookville Park Mounds
This position offers an elevated mound to the side of a school football field near Brookville Park where you can see arrivals on runway 22L or departures from 04R. It is good for photography and you won’t usually get any attention from the police by being here. To get to this spot, head for 230th Place and follow it to the end where you’ll see the school and field. This is an example arrival shot from this location.

Photo: Howard Chaloner

Photo: Howard Chaloner


Bayswater Park
A good place to monitor and photograph aircraft arrivals and departures on runways 04L, 04R and 31L. To find this spot, head for Mott Avenue in the residential district to the south of the airport. Head as far west as you can go, and you will reach Bayswater Park on the edge of Jamaica Bay. Simply park up, and then walk until you find a spot that suits you. This is a photograph from the location:

Photo: Howard Chaloner

Photo: Howard Chaloner


Inwood Park
A good afternoon spot for photography is Inwood Park, where you can watch and photograph runway 31L arrivals. You need to drive to Bayview Avenue and park at the end (it is signposted Inwood Park), then walk along the shore to get closer to the action. This is a photograph of the spot:

Photo: Howard Chaloner

Photo: Howard Chaloner


North Woodmere Park
A public park to the north east of the airport which is good for runway 22L and 31R arrivals logging, and photography with a long lens. The park is at the end of Hungry Harbor Road, and has a car park. You can then walk towards the path and find a spot. This is an example photograph from here:

Photo: Howard Chaloner

Photo: Howard Chaloner



On Airport Spotting

On-airport locations are a bit more restrictive.  Parking lots 2 & 5 offer some nice views, but the security company which looks after them can be a bit difficult with respect to photography (even though the TSA and PANYNJ don’t have a problem with it!).


Spotting in the Terminals

Tim Chaloner offered this advice on spotting in Terminal 4:

Since they changed the internal security area layout a few years ago, you can now walk the entire length of both the A & B concourses, once you have passed through security for your flight. These concourses provide excellent views of Terminal 4’s aprons, as well as views of runways 22L/4R and 22R/4L. Views of 31L/13R and 31R/13L are more distant or hidden. Photography is of course through glass windows, and reflections can be a problem in some areas.

In my view, the prime location in Terminal 4 is at the end of the A concourse by gates 9 & 10. It gives a great view of the 4/22 runways and most movements can be monitored. Also, the sun is behind you in the afternoons. Photography is possible from here, but a zoom would be needed for aircraft on the taxiways and runways, and there is a lot of ground clutter and light poles to contend with. Also, the Emirates A380 is parked in front of these windows during the day, so can naturally block some of the view, but it does make for a great photo with the afternoon sun on it!

The above location is obviously only accessible if you are departing on a flight from Terminal 4. That is why I often fly on Virgin Atlantic in order to secure these views. Delta takes up most of the B concourse now, and they also have a Sky Lounge on top of the concourse, about half way down it’s length. This has an open air deck with views of the 4/22 runways and T4 aprons, but only faces in that direction, so anything behind this deck would not be viewable. Photography is through glass, and again, reflections are a problem. But it is open air with no roof, and cocktails can by ordered while lounging on the sofas!  The Delta Sky Club in this terminal also has an outdoor observation area ($50 entrance fee for non First/Business Class fliers), complete with chairs and a bar, and overlooks aircraft activity.

JFK Airport


New York JFK Spotting Hotels

A great way to catch as many aircraft registrations as possible, or to base yourself near the airport for daytime spotting, is to use a nearby hotel with views. The best recommended spotting hotel at JFK airport is the Hilton Garden Inn Queens/JFK Airport.

JFK spotting hotel Hilton Garden Inn

Address: 148-18 134th St, Jamaica, NY 11430, United States
Phone:+1 718-322-4448

This hotel is situated at the western side of the airport, and offers one of the few views of aircraft on the cargo aprons at JFK. You need to request an airport facing room on the highest floor to have a decent view. Runway 13L/31R is the nearest to the hotel, but movements on the others can be seen and logged, especially with the aid of SBS or flight tracking websites. The views can be a little distant for photography.

The hotel has a shuttle but linking it to the terminals at JFK, and can also be used to get to LaGuardia Airport.



I want to offer my thanks to Howard Chaloner for his help in putting this guide together, and for the pictures used.

We also recommend the excellent NYCaviation site for further reading and tips on spotting in the New York area.