Gatwick is the UK’s second busiest airport, and a major hub serving London and the south east. It is situated at Crawley to the south of London, and is a hub for a number of airlines. It is the world’s busiest single-runway airport.
Sadly, despite the draw of so many aircraft, Gatwick is notoriously difficult to spot at, and a recent change has seen one of the only good spots made more difficult by the addition of an extra fence blocking the view at the end of runway 08R.
So, where can you spot at Gatwick? Here are some suggestions:
Gatwick Spotting Locations
1 Multi-Storey Car Park
The top level of the Blue Multi-Storey car park 1 outside the South Terminal is a nice spot for logging aircraft on short finals to Runway 26L. Facing into the sun is not ideal, however. Signs at this location indicate that spotters are not welcome to loiter, and security will often move you on. A similar view exists from the platforms of the railway station.
2 Runway 26 Approach
From the Multi-Storey Car Park, spotters are often encouraged to go downstairs to a perimeter road/path running past the runway 26 approach lights. Previously you could go through the doors to Concorde House, down the stairs, through the door and then walk along the path. However, some recent reports state going through Concorde House is not possible, so you need to make your way downstairs in the terminal, following signs for Lost Property, then out through the tunnel leading to the path. From here you can see all movements approaching runway 26 or departing 08, but can see little of aircraft on the ground.
3 Runway 08R
Following Charlwood Road and Lowfield Heath Road (postcode RH11 0QB) around the end of Runway 08R leads to a crash gate which is close to aircraft lining up on the runway. It is possible to photograph or log aircraft on short final to land, however views of aircraft on the ground through the crash gate are now obscured by an additional fence. The only way around this is to bring a tall ladder to look over the fence either side, which may draw unwanted attention.
You can still see and photograph aircraft approaching the runway as they pass overhead.
Parking is not allowed near the gate itself so you will need to walk to reach it. You can also get the free bus to Purple Parking and walk the remaining distance.
4 Spotting Hotels
There are two good spotting hotels at Gatwick. The BLOC Hotel in the South Terminal has panoramic views over the terminals and runway from many of its rooms.
Meanwhile the Sofitel at the North Terminal has rooms on the higher floors facing the airport.
Airlines at Gatwick
Gatwick is a hub for a number of airlines, including:
- British Airways
- Thomas Cook Airlines
- TUI Airways
- Virgin Atlantic
Other interesting airlines flying in include Air Arabia Maroc, Air Italy, airBaltic, Aurigny, Belavia, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern, Emirates (A380s), Iraqi Airways, LEVEL, Montenegro Airlines, Qatar Airways, Rossiya, RwandAir, Ukraine International, WestJet and Wizz Air.
A new Boeing maintenance hangar due for completion soon also promises to bring in other interesting aircraft on a regular basis.
Busiest Single Runway
Here’s a video demonstrating how ATC slots landing and departing aircraft into tight gaps on Gatwick’s single runway:
Other Useful Resources
Gatwick Airport Spotters Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/235472273160220/
Gatwick Aviation Society – http://www.gatwickaviationsociety.org.uk
Gatwick Aviation Museum – http://gatwick-aviation-museum.co.uk/
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