Home Airport Spotting Guide Orlando Plane Spotting Tips

Orlando Plane Spotting Tips

by Matt Falcus

Orlando is one of the most popular destinations in the United States. The city’s theme parks and thriving tourist industry means millions of visitors arrive every year to enjoy all it and Florida have to offer.

If you’re one of them, Orlando can also prove an enticing destination for aviation enthusiasts thanks to its many airports and spotting opportunities.

Here are some tips on plane spotting in Orlando:

 

Orlando International Airport

American Airlines Boeing 737 with Oneworld Livery - Orlando International Airport MCO - Orlando FL

Orlando’s main airport is the guilty pleasure of many spotters who should otherwise be enjoying a family holiday at the nearby theme parks. Because of the popularity of the area for leisure travellers, Orlando International has become a very busy airport with links from across the country and many other countries.

Leisure airlines dominate – especially Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines. However, all US carriers are present along with charter and mainline airlines from Canada, Europe, Central and South America.

The northern terminals A and B are linked via monorail to four remote concourses. The new South Terminal Complex and Intermodal Terminal are also linked via the monorail.

Orlando has four runways, all parallel in a north-south orientation. Along the western boundary are a series of cargo centres served by FedEx Express, ABX Air, Atlas Air and UPS Airlines, plus various FBOs.

The MSCP parking garage has good views from the 9th floor. From this spot you can see most of the runways and gates. You are required to sign a Use of Facilities Form to use this spot. The form must be completed in person, accompanied by a valid photo ID, between 8am-5pm, Mon-Friday (excluding public holidays), at the Public Affairs office, located on the 3rd level of Terminal A in the Aviation Authority Executive Offices (to the left of the East Security Checkpoint for Gates 70-129).

Tradeport Drive runs down the western side of the airport, and passes the executive jet parking areas, maintenance areas, and the cargo ramp. The best thing is to drive along and pull in to read aircraft off, then move on. At the end of the road, you can make a left onto County Road 530 which should give you views of the BAC 1-11 and Boeing 727 on the fire dump to your left.

 

Orlando Sanford Airport

Back to the Sanford Junk yard

Today, Sanford is served primarily by Allegiant Air which uses the airport as a hub.

In recent the airport has also become a storage location for airliners being refitted, maintained or scrapped. This is an additional draw for enthusiasts who may be lucky to see something classic or rare. The two areas used for this purpose are on the north of the airfield, off E 25th St, and on the east, which is not easily accessible but visible at a distance from the passenger terminal.

The top floor of the parking garage outside the terminal has views. You can also explore the access roads around the terminal which give views through the fence onto different ramps and parking gates.

 

 

Melbourne Orlando Airport

This airport is actually 70 miles east of Orlando itself, on the coast. It sees service from Allegiant Air, American Eagle, Delta and Sun Country Airlines, as well as TUI Airways flights from the UK. Other activities include aircraft storage and maintenance, flight training, and a technology park whose tenants include Northrop Grumman.

On the north side of the main runways are a couple of FBOs, and Embraer Phenom and Legacy production facility, and an area of light aircraft hangarage; the passenger terminal is in the south-east corner of the site, alongside the storage apron.

There is an area of grass next to the fence to the right of the terminal entrance which lets you see aircraft parked at some of the gates, and also those on the adjacent storage and maintenance ramp.

A footpath runs alongside S Apollo Blvd, which passes the end of runway 27L and has distant views across the field. Further along, General Aviation Dr passes the executive parking ramps along the northern perimeter where you can catch occasional glimpses of parked aircraft.

 

Orlando Executive Airport

The original municipal airport for Orlando, and now a reliever airport handling most of the city’s corporate and general aviation traffic, along with flight training. It is a couple of miles east of downtown, and ten miles north of Orlando International.

The airport has two runways. Most facilities are on the northern and western sides. The Colonel Joe Kittinger Park at the corner of Crystal Lake Dr and South St provides a viewing area alongside the approach to runway 07. It has a preserved F-4D Phantom aircraft on display. From here you can take good approach shots, but aircraft parked on the north side are too distant to see easily.

Livingston St, to the north of the park, is a good place to dip in and out to log some parked aircraft.

 

Kissimmee Gateway Airport

Darwininan, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Conveniently located for the nearby resorts and tourist areas near Orlando. Kissimmee Airport is used by corporate jets and general aviation users, as well as local sightseeing flights. Warbirds are quite common here and you can visit the Warbirds Adventures building off N Hoagland Blvd.

5th St, further south off the same road, culminates at the fence with views across the airport. Patrick St on the eastern side of the airport also leads to the fence, and Dyer Blvd off M L K Jr Blvd on the northern perimeter leads to the Signature Flight Support apron, with a small viewing area next to the fence.

 

Other airports of interest within a relatively short drive from Orlando include Lakeland, Daytona Beach, Tampa and St. Petersburg Clearwater.

 

Have you been plane spotting in Orlando? What were your highlights? Leave a comment below.

Title picture (c)

 

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