New viewing area at Helsinki Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, Finland, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 01-09-2013


Helsinki Scenic TerraceThis had slipped my attention until I read about it on George Hamlin’s excellent Observation Deck blog, but it turns out Helsinki Vantaa Airport in Finland has opened a new viewing area for spotters to watch aircraft movements.

The ‘Scenic Terrace’ actually replaces the older terrace which had closed down. It reopened in April 2013 and sits atop a building next to Terminal 2, giving elevated views over the aircraft parking ramps and of the two main runways.

The terrace is open from 7am to 10pm daily, but make sure you wrap up warm in the winter months! It is free to enter, and there are vending machines for snacks.

East Midlands spotting hotel – Radisson Blu

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Spotting Hotels, Spotting Trip Reports, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 17-08-2013


Radisson Blu EMAA hotel I recently stayed at was the Radisson Blu at East Midlands airport, and got to check out the spotting opportunities there.

I had requested a room with a view of the airport, and upon arrival this was confirmed. My visit was planned to make the most of the evening cargo flights, which are busiest on weekdays. Odd-numbered rooms in the range 301-319 and 401-419 all face the airport and are close enough to read off aircraft registrations. All airport movements are visible, however after dark a SBS or flight tracking website is required to log the aircraft identities. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi with all room rates.

Radisson Blu East Midlands

Photography is also possible from the rooms with a 250mm lens, particularly in the daytime when aircraft are landing or departing on runway 09. However, the glass may cause distortion in some cases.

The photos on this page are from my stay, and show the views that are possible from the room. All movements on the runway are visible.

Baltimore Washington observation gallery reopened

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 13-08-2013


BWI observation galleryAn improved Observation Gallery at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Marshall) is now open to the public. The gallery was temporarily closed in June 2012 for construction of a series of terminal enhancements. The work included improvements and new exhibits for the Observation Gallery and the installation of Sky Azure, a new food and beverage concession.

“The Observation Gallery is an important part of the travel experience for our passengers,” said Paul J. Wiedefeld, Chief Executive Officer of BWI Marshall Airport. “The improvements feature new and updated exhibits that showcase Maryland’s rich aviation and aerospace history.”

BWI observation gallerySimilar to the outdoor observation deck that was part of the original Friendship International Airport, the Observation Gallery was first created in 1995 to offer views of airport operations. The public space included a number of exhibits related to aviation and air travel, including large sections of a Boeing 737-200 aircraft.

Views from the gallery include aircraft parked at the nearby terminal gates, and using the distant runways beyond. Photographs are through glass, and binoculars are required for reading registrations. There are some binoculars provided for public use.

The BWI Marshall Observation Gallery is adjacent to the new B/C security checkpoint on the upper level. It is open to the public and located prior to the security checkpoint. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Manchester Airport spotting hotel – Radisson Blu

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Spotting Hotels, Spotting Trip Reports, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 30-07-2013


Radisson Blu SpottingI recently had the opportunity to check out the Radisson Blu hotel at Manchester Airport in the UK, spending a night in an airport view room.

The hotel is known as probably the best at Manchester Airport for spotting, since it is located between terminals 1 and 2. It is linked via walkway to both, and also to the airport train station.

I was surprised to get a good rate for a room when I booked. It was around £65 for a Saturday night in July.

Unfortunately I was only able to get a room on the fifth floor, but with an airport view all the same. At this level, Terminal 2 partly blocks the view. However, I was still able to see some of  the parking stands at Terminal 1, and all movements were visible on the runway. Combined with SBS or Flightradar24, you won’t miss anything from here.

Radisson Blu Manchester

To try and catch what was parked opposite Terminal 2, I checked out the stairwells at both ends of the building. This let me see some aircraft on the remote stands and cargo ramp, but not those parked at the terminal.

The best rooms to try are even-numbered ones, on as high a floor as possible. The check-in staff are helpful and able to give you what you’re looking for if it’s available.

Although the hotel was going through renovation when I stayed, I still enjoyed eating at the restaurant, and the room was adequate and comfortable.

The pictures in this report are from my stay.

Spotting at Raleigh Durham – an alternative location

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, USA | Posted on 25-07-2013


RDU General Aviation

Raleigh Durham Airport is one of the few in the United States to offer a dedication place to watch aircraft movements without being hassled by security or police personnel. This is the Observation Park (which has recently been refurbished).

However, there is a lesser known SECOND official location at the airport which is also good for watching and spotting aircraft.

The General Aviation Terminal is situated to the north east of the passenger terminal complexes, adjacent to the end of runway 23L. It offers a balcony on the second floor which overlooks the GA ramp and runway, and is good for photography of aircraft close by.

It is also possible to see aircraft using the main runway behind, and also taxiing to and from the main terminals. The main draw of the location is seeing the various light and executive aircraft parked at the terminal which wouldn’t usually be seen from the main terminals.

Parking is free at the GA Terminal, and there’s a cafe for you to use.


Spotting at Stansted – Belmer Road

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Spotting Trip Reports, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 18-06-2013


I recently visited London Stansted Airport and chose to use the Belmer Road spotting location as a base for watching the action.

Whilst there are no official spotting locations at Stansted Airport, this spot is kept in a good condition with cut grass and car parking permitted alongside the road. ‘Plane Watch’ signs attached to the fence also hints that the airport know this is a well-used spot.

After parking up alongside the road (there are usually other cars parked there, particularly at weekends), it is a short walk through one of the gaps in the trees to reach the open area which runs alongside a significant part of the fence on the northern side of the airport.

The airport’s runway runs in front of you, and it is possible to take pictures through the fence or as aircraft climb above it.

Most aircraft movements can be seen from this location, however you’ll usually have to wait for aircraft to move away from the passenger terminal before they can be identified.

Belmer Road Spotting

Directly opposite the spotting location is the cargo ramp, which is often home to a number of Boeing 747-8s. To the right is the VIP terminal and parking area. The aircraft can not be seen from Belmer Road, but it is a short drive or a 20 minute walk to reach the area.

To reach Belmer Road by car, follow directions for the Long Stay Car Park, but continue past their entrance along the narrow country road (Bury Lodge Lane). It eventually becomes Belmer Road, which has the postcode CM24.

The pictures on this post are from my recent visit and show what is possible from this location.

Air Berlin A319

Budapest spotting terrace to reopen

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, Eastern Europe, Hungary, Spotting News | Posted on 10-06-2013


Budapest Airport‘s spotting terrace is to be reopene following renovation work.

The terrace is atop Terminal 2A, and was closed a few years ago when work was being carried out to expand the building.

Now, work is being undertaken to install a glass frontage and netting to protect aircraft from foreign objects, ahead of it reopening in July. The terrace will be open 24 hours with an entrance fee of HUF 400 (EUR 1.35)

The terrace offers views over the airport’s two runways and aircraft using the terminal. Photographs are possible, however the new glass frontage may limit how your pictures turn out.

Guide to spotting at Bristol Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, UK, Websites, Western Europe | Posted on 23-05-2013


Bristol AirportSimon Fewkes from the new Bristol Airport Spotting website recently got in touch to see if I could let people know about his webiste. In return, he’s agreed to give us an overview of where to spot aircraft at Bristol Airport. Here goes…

Bristol airport has a few spotting locations to spot and photograph both landing and departing aircraft, some of these spots are official and non-official. Aircraft that can be seen here include easyJet A319s and A320s, Ryanair 737-800s, Thomas Cook A320s, Thomson 757 and 737s, Air France ATR42, KLM Fokker 100 and Fokker 70, Aer Lingus ATR72, Helvetic Fokker 100 plus other visitors at various times of the year.

Spot 1: Winters Lane

This is possibly the best location to spot aircraft, it can provide great views of aircraft on the apron, taxiing and taking off, unfortunately its not great for photography as the fence can get in the way but a set of step ladders can solve this issue, if you get closer to the end of runway 9 the fence is much lower, during the summer it can become busy here and ice cream vans are available to serve the spotters.

Spot 2: Winters Lane by Golf Course

This spot is good for watching aircraft as they land on runway 27 and taxi back to the terminal as they will pass right in front of you, also departing aircraft on runway 9 will taxi past you to take off, this spot isn’t good for photography as the fence will get in the way and is too high for step ladders. Both spot 1 and 2 can be accessed by turning into Downside Road, go along this road until you see a red phone box and a sign saying “Tall Pines Golf Club and Lodges”. Turn left there into ‘Cooks Bridle Path’. This is a tight lane so be careful for oncoming traffic and regular tractor activity.

Continue up that lane, past the golf course on your right, down another little hill and back up the other side. You will then come to a bend where you will find the airport perimeter fence, and the main taxiway.

Spot 3: Felton Common

This location is great when runway 27 is being used for landings, arriving aircraft are very low above you and can provide great photos and video opportunities, and this location is to the east of the A38 and can be accessed through the village of Felton which is just past the airport heading towards Bristol on the right.

For further information on all of these locations, with photos, videos and maps visit

Alternative Atlanta Airport spotting hotel – Best Western

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting Hotels, USA | Posted on 29-04-2013


If you want to spend time spotting at Atlanta Airport, most spotters know that the Renaissance Concourse is the hotel of choice, with its ideal position alongside the northern perimeter and rooms with balconies facing the action.

However, a lesser-known hotel which is usually much cheaper and still offers good views of aircraft can be found nearby.
Pictures of BEST WESTERN PLUS Atlanta Airport-East - Hotel Photos
This photo of BEST WESTERN PLUS Atlanta Airport-East is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The Best Western Plus – Airport East is located a little further away from the airport, but has rooms offering views of the northern two runways.

Those with an SBS will be able to monitor aircraft on the other runways. If the weather’s clear enough you will be able to see the aircraft approaching and departing the distant runways.

Atlanta Best Western Location

A map of the Best Western Plus Airport East’s location, near runway 26R

Aircraft arriving from the east onto the northern runways can easily be read off from rooms in the *01, *02, *16, *17 range (the higher the better) will have views of the action.


Aviation in Denmark

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Denmark, Western Europe | Posted on 26-04-2013


Copenhagen AirportI’d like to take a look at the country of Denmark and what aviation opportunities exist for aviation enthusiasts.


The main airport gateway to Denmark is Copenhagen Kastrup Airport, situated close to the city and only a short distance across the water from Malmo in Sweden.

Copenhagen is one of the main bases for SAS, and is also a hub for Cimber Air and Other principal airlines operating there include easyJet, Widerøe, JetTime, Thomas Cook Scandinavia and TUIfly Nordic.

Interesting and unusual airlines operating to Copenhagen are Air Greenland, Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Atlantic Airways with the Airbus A319 link to the Faroe Islands.

By far the most popular spotting location at Copenhagen is the Flyvergrillen cafe, located alongside Runway 22R/04L. It has a dirt mound alongside which offers views over the movements on the runways and taxiways. It is acceptable for photography on afternoons. To reach the spot, walk out of Terminal 1 and turn left at the catering buildings. You can also drive this route. It takes 30 minutes to walk.

Other airports in Denmark include:

  • Aalborg, with flights by Norwegian, KLM and SAS
  • Aarhus Tirstrup, with flights by British Airways/Sun Air, EuroLOT, Ryanair, and SAS
  • Billund, which is the country’s second busiest, with flights by Air France, British Airways/Sun Air, Norwegian, Ryanair, and Turkish Airlines
  • Esbjerg, with flights by bmi Regional
  • Karup, with flights by Norwegian
  • Odense, with flights by Malmo Aviation

SAS 737

Aviation Attractions
Danish Technical Museum
Located at Helsingor, to the north of Copenhagen, this museum has a decent collection of around 30 aircraft. These include a SAS Sud Aviation Caravelle, DC-3, DC-7 cockpit, and a de Havilland Dragon Rapide, amongst a number of military aircraft.

Danish Collection of Vintage Aircraft
A museum of over 60 historic aircraft at Stauning Airport on the west coast of Denmark. Open daily.

Former British Airways and European Aviation BAC 1-11 G-AVMN is preserved outside a technical museum around 55 miles west of Copenhagen.