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

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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.

 

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.

 

4. Los Angeles International

LosAngeles-LAX

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.

 

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 (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/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

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: http://www.destinworld.co.uk/products/world-airport-spotting-guides/

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

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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
Website

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.

Top 10 airports to number crunch at

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, China, Dubai, Eastern Europe, Frankfurt, Germany, Heathrow, Japan, Middle East, North America, Turkey, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 30-04-2015

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If you’re the kind of spotter who likes to number crunch… that is, collect aircraft registration (or tail) numbers… then there are certain airports and spotting locations that are made for you. At these locations you’re likely to see lots of aircraft in a short period of time, and make the most numbers in your book possible.

Whilst everyone reading this will live in a different location and probably already have seen the aircraft of certain airlines, hopefully at least some of the airports will be an inspiration of how to make more inroads into filling your logbooks on future spotting trips.

If you have a particular favourite, or would like to suggest another airport, leave a comment below!

 

1. Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International

 

Atlanta Airport

Atlanta has been for many years the busiest airport in the world. Last year it handled almost 900,000 aircraft movements and, as home to Delta Air Lines, most of them were flown by its aircraft and those of its feeder partners. Southwest Airlines is also a major carrier here, along with a number of interesting international airlines.

Atlanta doesn’t offer any official viewing areas, but for most spotters here the only place to go is the Renaissance Concourse Hotel on the southern perimeter. A room (which will have a balcony) facing the airport on a higher floor will be paradise for plane spotters. It is a bit distant to photograph airliners on anything but the nearest runway, but with good binoculars and the help of flight tracking software you will log hundreds of aircraft registrations each day.

 

2. Dallas Fort Worth

 

Dallas Ft Worth

A huge airport in Texas, with seven runways and a complex of five terminals in the central area. Dallas Fort Worth is the home base of American Airlines, whose fleet of aircraft numbers almost 1,000 including that of regional partner Envoy and the former US Airways fleet. So if you need to add these aircraft to your log books, this airport is a good place to begin as movements are non-stop all day long.

The best place to watch aircraft at Dallas Fort Worth is the official Founders Plaza observation area off Highway 114. You’ll see a lot of aircraft movements from here, but with so many runways it’s hard to catch everything!

You can also do a loop on the Skylink Train monorail which passes all terminals with elevated views over many gate areas.

 

3. Oshkosh Wittman Regional

 

Oshkosh

Oshkosh for most of the year is a quiet regional airport with various general aviation and executive aircraft movements, along with historic aircraft from the interesting EAA Museum on site. However, come here for a week at the end of July each year and you’ll encounter the world’s busiest airport as it plays host to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Air Show. In recent years up to 15,000 aircraft have flown into the airport over the course of the air show week, with number crunchers filling multiple notebooks and all available time trying to catch everything! One pro tip is to photograph rows of aircraft and note them down later when you have more time, as logging everything simply becomes too demanding.

Most aircraft visiting Oshkosh during the air show are light aircraft, however you will also see many interesting experimental, historic, military and airliner aircraft in attendance to sweeten the log.

 

4. London Heathrow

 

Airbus A380 at Heathrow's Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

Airbus A380 approaching Heathrow’s Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

The busiest airport in the United Kingdom, and one of the busiest airports for international flights. Heathrow is great for its mix of airlines arriving from all over the world. Although there are a lot of European and North American carriers, plus British Airways and Virgin Atlantic aircraft, interesting carriers more than make up for it. The airport is also one of the busiest for Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft.

There are a number of places to spot around the perimeter, plus the Renaissance Hotel has great views and even does spotter packages! One of the favourite spotting locations when arrivals are from the east is Myrtle Avenue.

 

5. Dubai International

 

Dubai Airport © Dubai Airports

Having newly taken the crown of the busiest international airport in the world from Heathrow (see above), Dubai continues to offer a mouthwatering mix of aircraft from around the world. True, most movements are by the impressive Emirates Airline, with its huge fleet of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, but other types from around the Middle East and Asia are fascinating to see and often very rare to the log book.

Spotting can be tricky (and misunderstood) here, so it’s best to find a hotel with a view, such as the excellent Sheraton Deira or the Nojoum Apartments.

 

6. Istanbul Ataturk International

 

Istanbul Spotting

Turkish Airlines’ phenomenal growth over recent years has thrust Istanbul’s two airports into the major leagues. Almost 57 million passengers used the larger Ataturk airport last year, mainly on Turkish Airlines’ flights, but also on a variety of other interesting carriers from around the world. It’s also a great airport for interesting cargo movements, often using some older airliners.

There is a shopping mall alongside one of the runways at Ataturk, with a seating area as part of the food court that overlooks the runway and is close enough to see all movements. Spotters are rarely bothered as long as they buy food and drink. Then, on an evening you can retire to a room at the Radisson Blu hotel, which has rooms overlooking the runway and taxiways.

 

7. Beijing Capital

 

Beijing

With almost 90 million passengers flying through last year, Beijing Capital is teetering on the verge of becoming the busiest in the world. It is certainly the busiest in Asia and China, and an obvious place to make dents into logging aircraft, particularly from the many domestic and regional airlines in China, and the airlines from around the Far East.

Although Capital is due to be superseded by a new airport in the coming years, for the time being it will keep on going, bursting at the seams.

The best place to spot is at the southern end of the airport, where there are a variety of locations just under the approach path to two of the runways. These can be walked to from the terminal, or ask a taxi driver to take you.

 

8. Tokyo Haneda

 

800px-Haneda_Airport_Terminal2_ObservationDeck

Haneda is the busiest airport in Japan, and home to most of the domestic aircraft fleets in the country – namely the ones you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the world… and there are lot of them! In addition to this, the airport is regaining international flights at a good rate after years of living in the shadow of nearby Narita.

The airport has three official observation decks – one on each terminal. These are the best, and easiest, places to spot from to log aircraft. However, the problem with them is that you can’t see all movements from just one deck. So you’ll have to move around a bit. The decks on Terminal 1 and 2 are probably the best.

 

9. Frankfurt Main

 

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

Frankfurt is another of Europe’s more interesting airports, and one of the busiest. Like Heathrow it has a really nice mix of international airlines flying in, as well as the fleet of Lufthansa and its partners, plus a variety of charter and low cost airlines.

Spotting at Frankfurt is possible from a few locations, but these are spread out and none is perfect for catching all movements. The observation area on Terminal 2 is good for seeing aircraft on the ground and the main runways. There is also a small viewing area alongside the departure-only runway 18, but you’ll need a taxi or car to get there.

 

10. Van Nuys

 

LosAngeles-VanNuys

Van Nuys Airport is in the north of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley. It doesn’t handle any airline services at present, however it is on of the world’s busiest general aviation airports. It has two parallel runways, and last year handled over 260,000 aircraft movements. General aviation doesn’t just mean light aircraft… Van Nuys also handles a great number of executive movements, with all manner of biz jets.

The best place to spot aircraft at Van Nuys is the dedicated viewing area off Woodley Avenue at the end of Waterman Drive on the eastern side of the airport. You’ll see all runway movements from here.

Doha Airport Spotting Hotel – Oryx Rotana

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Middle East, Qatar, Spotting Hotels | Posted on 08-04-2015

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Oryx Rotana Hotel

Although the new Hamad International Airport at Doha, Qatar, is now in full operation, a hotel alongside the old Doha Airport is still a good option for spotting at both airports.

For the time being, the old Doha Airport still has a few private and GA operators using the runway, and there is at least one stored biz jet here. The new airport is only two miles further away.

The Oryx Rotana hotel is situated alongside the terminal at the old Doha Airport, but according to a recent report if you get a room above the entrance on the top floors, you can see movements at BOTH airports.

Oryx Rotana Doha Map

Admittedly, the view of the new airport is pretty distant. But with good binoculars and flight tracking equipment or websites, you should see all movements easily, as well as anything still using the old airport.

The Oryx Rotana is part of the Rotana chain of hotels, and is of a good standard as you would expect in the region. You can book rooms through their website, here.

Heathrow Terminal 4 viewing area – spotting video

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Heathrow, Spotting Videos, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 03-04-2015

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If you weren’t aware, London Heathrow airport relented recently and installed a new viewing area for plane spotting (here’s our report about its opening). The major drawback, however, was that it is located in the departures section of Terminal 4, so you’ll need an airline ticket to use it. Nevertheless, anything is better than nothing and you can also show up for your flight really early to make sure you get chance to enjoy it.

To give you an idea of what the Terminal 4 viewing area is like, here’s a decent video (by Dantorp Aviation) showing arrivals, departures and aircraft taxiing around the airport as seen from this area. The view is pretty good and you won’t miss much.

Marana Pinal Airpark opens to visitors

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 29-03-2015

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Marana Pinal Airpark

There are a number of storage airports in the western United States known to aviation enthusiasts, with row upon row of retired and stored airliners parked up awaiting their fate. Largest among these are Mojave, Victorville, and Marana Pinal Airpark.

The latter, located to the north of Tucson in Arizona, is notoriously difficult to get close to for the enthusiast, with guards manning the entrance, which in itself is a long way from any views of aircraft.

In fact, the standard way for an enthusiast to see airliners parked at Marana is to hire a private aircraft and pilot to fly them from Tucson to Marana, performing a number of low approaches, or a landing and slow taxi for takeoff, snapping photographs frantically in the hope of catching everything parked there, and preferably the registrations. Then a period of research would begin to work out exactly what was seen.

However, times are hard for Marana. It urgently needs to repair its runway, and to find new income streams to keep it in business. As a result it is looking at ways to attract more people to the site, and one of the first changes has been the removal of the guard posts blocking the entrance to the former military airport.

Jim Petty is the airport’s economic development director and knows exactly the draw that Marana has on enthusiasts and the curious public who have a fascination with the huge hulks of metal glinting in the sun, some sporting airline liveries of yesteryear, whilst others appear to be factory fresh. For most enthusiasts, storage airports have been a place to catch up with missed aircraft, sometimes classic old jets rarely seen in active service anymore. However, places like Marana offer a good mix, with some aircraft temporarily stored straight from the factory as airlines face economic problems or leasing companies find it difficult to place them.

Other aircraft still have a lot of life in them, but come to Marana to await a new customer.

Whilst enthusiasts will not be given free reign of the airport under its new relaxed rules, Petty has begun offering tours of Pinal Airpark in an SUV, stopping off to take in the different areas of parked airliners, and to watch a variety of different aircraft that still use the active airport.

Marana Map

Marana’s former locked-down security stance came from its long-standing involvement with the CIA, acting as a staging post for secret operations which were closely guarded from the public eye. It was also a military training post. However, Marana is officially listed as a general aviation airfield, and as such should be accessible to the general public. And so it now is.

Jim Petty may live to regret news of this opening of Marana for tours becoming public, as enthusiasts are sure to be planning trips already. But nevertheless, this is great news and I’m sure will be very much appreciated. I will certainly be taking the opportunity if I am in the area!

Free tours are by appointment only and subject to availability. Call Jim Petty, 520-866-6545.

Spotting at Teruel – Spain’s storage and maintenance airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Spain, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 19-03-2015

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Spotters watch the first 747 land (Photo: EL PAÍS)

Spotters watch the first 747 land (Photo: EL PAÍS)

Teruel Airport has suddenly started making waves amongst the spotter community as it has sprung up in no time from the dry land of eastern Spain.

Unlike other new Spanish airports built to attract passengers and ultimately languishing semi-mothballed, Teruel was designed from the start to act as a storage, maintenance and recycling base for airlines and other operators to bring their aircraft to.

Teruel2

The airport has a single, long runway, with ramp space and a tiny terminal. However, behind this is a grid pattern of taxiways which are designed for long-term storage of airliners, much like you would see in Arizona or California. Teruel boasts the largest storage area in Europe for aircraft.

One of the first arrivals at Teruel was a Boeing 747 freighter of Air Cargo Germany. Since then the airport has filled with over 30 airliners, mainly from the fleet of struggling Russian carrier UT Air. Types include Boeing 737s, Airbus A321s and Bombardier CRJs.

There are also Airbus A330s from Libya and Brazil and Boeing 747s from France and the Netherlands present at the time of writing.

Teruel3

The airport is operated by Tarmac Aerosave (which also manages storage at Tarbes Airport in France). It is around 100 miles south of Zaragoza and 95 miles north-west of Valencia, just off the A-23 motorway and N-234 highway at Caude.

Teruel in relation to the main cities in Spain

Teruel in relation to the main cities in Spain

Early reports from spotters passing by are that aircraft can be seen with some perseverance and with the use of a car to explore the minor roads surrounding the field. However, security have also made their presence known, stopping spotters and asking what their business is. Therefore caution is advised.

The owners hope to grow this new business, and may even see passenger flights servicing the nearby ski resorts eventually.

 

Dusseldorf railway station spotting area closed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, Germany, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 08-03-2015

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By Konstantin von Wedelstaedt [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Konstantin von Wedelstaedt [GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately one of the two official spotting locations at Dusseldorf Airport has been closed.

The railway station, linked to the national and local rail network, as well as to the terminal via a monorail, featured an open air viewing area which overlooked the ends of runways 23L and 23R, as well as the taxiways linking them. As such it was a great place for photographing airliners both on the ground and in the air.

But sadly the viewing area is now closed, and it is reportedly a permanent closure.

A.Savin [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

A.Savin [CC BY-SA 3.0 or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons

The other official viewing area, atop the terminal building, remains open. It is on top of concourse B, and reached via the third floor. There is a small entrance fee.

Opening times are now 10am-7pm year-round (no early summer opening now)

Spotting at New York JFK: Send us your tips

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, USA | Posted on 27-01-2015

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JFKAirport2

One of the busiest and most diverse airports in America, New York John F Kennedy is not known as one of the easiest to spot at. This is partly down to its complexity and the lack of official locations. But it can be one of the most rewarding airports if you have a good view.

Do you know JFK well? What’s your tip for getting the most out of a spotting visit?

The best tips will make it into a new guide to spotting at JFK to be posted on AirportSpotting.com. We’ll also publish any of your pictures from JFK, be it of a spotting location or of aircraft action.

Send tips by e-mail here, or leave a comment below, or on our Facebook page.

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Airports of Los Angeles – a spotting guide

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, USA | Posted on 06-01-2015

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Los Angeles is among the largest and most populous cities and metropolitan areas in the United States, as well as a major tourist draw and transport hub.

Its huge 469 square miles and extended Los Angeles Basin is home to a great number of airports and airfields, making its skies one of the most complex and busy air traffic regions in the world.

A spotting trip to Los Angeles can be hugely rewarding for aviation enthusiasts and, whilst Los Angeles International itself is a great draw, spending time exploring the other airports is very much recommended.

This report covers the basics and essentials of spotting in Los Angeles, plus some ideas for trips further afield.

 

LosAngelesAirports

 

 

 

Airports with airline service

  • The main airports in Los Angeles are:
  • Burbank Bob Hope
  • Los Angeles International
  • Long Beach
  • LA/Ontario International
  • Santa Ana John Wayne

 

Los Angeles International (LAX)

LosAngeles-LAX

By Alan Wilson (Flickr: LAX International Line-up #2) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Most travellers, especially from overseas, will arrive at Los Angeles International (commonly known as LAX). Situated at the western side of the city, bordered on one side by the Pacific Ocean, it is an airport with four runways, nine terminals, and handling well over 60 million passengers per year.

LAX is a hub for many airlines. In terms of movements, the most prominent are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Qantas, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin America.

Many of the world’s large airlines fly to this airport, arriving in waves from Europe or Asia. Most international airlines use the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which has recently been extended, although some share the other terminals.

Cargo is also important for LAX, with many daily freighter flights. These use facilities and aprons on the southern side of the airfield.

Where to spot at Los Angeles LAX

Where to spot at Los Angeles LAX

There are a few of spotting locations at Los Angeles International:

Imperial Hill Jim Clutter Park
Situated on the south side of the airport off Imperial Highway, this hill overlooks LAX from a height which offers unobstructed photography of aircraft, and the ability to log all movements on the south side with good binoculars. Movements on the northern runways can be read with a pole. The park features benches and the shade of trees, and a number of food concessions are located close by.

In & Out Burger
This fast food restaurant at Sepulveda Blvd and 92nd Street has gained a reputation amongst spotters due to its position under the approach to runways 24L/R. From the car park, this is a fantastic location for photographs; however, viewing aircraft on the ground is nearly impossible.

Tom Bradley Terminal Parking
The top level of the parking garage has views over much of the action, particularly aircraft on the north side. Departures on the southern runways are also visible.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

Long Beach (LGB)

By Ms ArtGeek at en.wikipedia [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

By Ms ArtGeek at en.wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Formerly the airport at which McDonnell Douglas constructed many of its great airliners, and still a production and maintenance base for C-17 military transports. Long Beach, situated at the south of the Los Angeles area, is a hub for JetBlue Airways and has some other flights.

You can spot at Long Beach from the café and terrace inside the terminal. There’s also a small observation area at the Rainbow Air Academy, just down Kilroy Airport Way from DeVry University. It gives views of the C-17 ramp.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

Burbank Bob Hope (BUR)

LosAngeles-Burbank

Photo (c) Bob Hope Airport

Situated to the north of the city, closer to Hollywood. Burbank has two runways and is a hub for Southwest Airlines, with additional services by Alaska Airlines, Delta Connection, JetBlue Airways, United Express and US Airways Express. The airport is quite hemmed in by the surrounding roads and commercial areas.

Spotting at Burbank is best from the top floor of the car park outside the terminal, from where all movements can be seen.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

LA/Ontario International (ONT)

Photo (c) LA/Ontario Airport

Photo (c) LA/Ontario Airport

Ontario Airport is one of the main Los Angeles airports, and handles over 6 million passengers per year, but is quite restricted on growth by its surroundings. Although it has two parallel runways, they are situated very close together.

There are three passenger terminals, with Southwest Airlines being the most prominent airline although other major US carriers all have a presence. UPS also has a strong cargo presence at the airport.

Spotting at Ontario Airport is more difficult as there are no obvious locations. However, the best views can be had on the southern perimeter near the UPS ramp, were views of aircraft approaching the runways can be had from the road.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

Santa Ana John Wayne (SNA)

Photo (c) Santa Ana Airport

Photo (c) Santa Ana Airport

The closest airport to Disneyland, and named after the famous cowboy actor who lived nearby. Santa Ana is in southern Los Angeles’ Orange County and has two short runways and a cramped terminal. It is also a hub for Southwest Airlines, with nationwide links via other US carriers. Santa Ana is also a very busy general aviation airfield, with hundreds of based aircraft.

Spotting at Santa Ana is quite difficult. The best place is to find Airport Loop Drive, one the western side of the airport behind the many GA hangars, and park up. You can then walk to see aircraft arriving from the north.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

 

Other airports of note

In addition to the airports with airline traffic, a number of other airports are worth checking out if you are into executive aircraft and biz jets, and general aviation aircraft. These include:

  • Santa Monica Municipal
  • Torrance Zamperini Field
  • Van Nuys

 

Santa Monica Municipal (SMO)

LosAngeles-SantaMonica

This historic airfield is hemmed in on all sides by the city. It is here that many Douglas propliners were built. It is very busy with executive and light aircraft movements. However, local residents have been pushing to have the airport closed for many years and the decision is still being considered.

Spotting at Santa Monica is possible from the official viewing deck on the administration building on the south side of the airport, with good all round views and photography. There is a preserved Douglas DC-3 alongside. Clover park on the north side is also good for viewing through the fence.

Be sure to check out the Museum of Flying at Santa Monica Airport.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

Torrance Zamperini Field (TOA)

This is one of the busiest general aviation airports in California. It’s around 10 miles south of LAX. Approximately 500 light aircraft are based here at any time, and the two runways are often busy. The Western Museum of Flight is also based here, albeit quite small. A walk along Airport Drive should yield many of the aircraft parked under the low hangars, and a tour of Robinson Helicopters’ factory is also possible.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

Van Nuys (VNY)

LosAngeles-VanNuys

A few miles to the west of Burbank Airport in the San Fernando Valley is Van Nuys, a busy executive and general aviation airport. It has two runways, and sees well over a thousand movements per day. It is also quite open to aviation enthusiasts.

Spotting at Van Nuys Airport is best from the official viewing area at Waterman Drive in the north east corner of the airfield. This small car park is nestled next to the runways, taxiways and a helicopter parking ramp. You can get close views of all the action, with photography through the fence. ATC is broadcast here too.

Driving around the perimeter will uncover a number of other vantage points from which aircraft parked at the various ramps and hangars can be logged. You can also spot from the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant on Raymer Street.

Airport Diagram: Download Here

 

 

Museums and Preserved Aircraft in Los Angeles

California Science Centre

Includes an air and space section, with the Space Shuttle Endeavour and a United Airlines Douglas DC-8 on display, amongst a few other aircraft.

http://californiasciencecenter.org/

700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037

 

Museum of Flying

A nice collection of aircraft from the beginnings of flight through to the jet age. Includes a FedEx 727 nose section, a DC-3, and a Convair 240 cockpit. Situated at Santa Monica Airport.

http://www.museumofflying.com/

3100 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica, California 90405

 

Ronald Reagan Library

707 Reagan Library

707 at the Reagan Presidential Library

The final resting place of Ronald Reagan in Simi Valley, to the north of Los Angeles, is also home to a museum which includes his Air Force One Boeing 707 transport and one of his helicopters.

http://www.reaganfoundation.org/

40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley, California 93065

(See our list of Boeing 707s you can still go inside today, including President Reagan’s example at Simi Valley)

 

Western Museum of Flight

Located at Torrance Airfield. It houses a number of military aircraft, including jet fighters, which are indicative of Southern California’s aviation heritage.

http://www.wmof.com/

3315 Airport Drive, Red Baron #3, Torrance, CA 90505

 

 

Further Afield

 

LosAngeles-FurtherAfield

 

Once you’ve had your fill of the Los Angeles area, there are a number of options for easy spotting trips further afield:

  • Storage Airfields
    Both Mojave and Victorville are within an easy drive of Los Angeles, and each has many stored and retired airliners.
  • Las Vegas
    There are lots of cheap daily flights to Las Vegas from the various Los Angeles airports. Enjoy some time in ‘Sin City’ and at its very busy airport.
  • San Diego
    A two-hour drive to the south of Los Angeles. San Diego is a busy and compact airport.

 

You can find spotting locations for airports across America in our book, Airport Spotting Guides USA