Having been photographing aircraft for over ten years now, I’ve had the chance to visit many locations around tens of airports around the world. Some of them were fairly standard while others stood out – whether in terms of traffic, the scenery they provide as a backdrop, or something else.
In this post, I decided to look at some of the ones that I liked the most so far. I hope you enjoy the list – and I would be excited to hear about your favorites in the comments under the post section as well!
The Five Spotting Locations
The below are five of my favorite locations that are still accessible.
Rather than looking at the traffic, I mainly considered the types of photos that can be taken at each of them when choosing the ones to feature. Also, they are in no particular order.
Location #1: ‘Runway 16 End” at Vienna Airport
When I was living in Nitra in Slovakia, Vienna airport was the closest major airport to my house. As such, it is of special significance to me.
And while the airport offers a number of spotting locations including a (not so good in terms of photography) observation deck, a mound offering a view of runway 16 action is my favorite spot there.
With the distinct 109-meter tall tower in the background, it is easy to recognize shots from this place. Especially when they feature an Austrian Airlines aircraft!
Location #2: “A10” at Sapporo New Chitose Airport in Japan
The “A10 spot” at Sapporo New Chitose airport is named after the taxiway it is located next to. It offers great view of aircraft on the taxiway (very close) as well as on the two parallel runways at the airport.
I have only been to this spot in winter – but that is THE season to visit “A10.” The location offers great opportunities for taking unique photos of aircraft surrounded by snow. You can see my photos from the spot here and here.
It takes about 20 minutes of walking in snow to reach the spot from the nearest parking space, but the result’s are certainly worth it.
Location #3: Runway 06/24 at Prague Airport
Similar to Vienna, Prague airport is very close to my heart. Being a fairly cheap and direct 6-hour bus ride away from Nitra, it was my favorite airport to go to when I was in high school. Even today, whenever I go back to Slovakia, I try to visit the airport.
The airport offers plenty of spotting opportunities and while it is not the busiest of the airports out there, there’s a steady stream of traffic.
One of my favorite spotting points at the airport is next to the airport’s runway 06/24. The runway is quite close there, and departure shots (especially of wide body aircraft) feature the Prague airport terminal in their background.
Here, I’d like to thank my good friend Phil (The Full Gull) for introducing me to many locations around the airport more than ten years ago!
Location #4: ‘North Runway Viewing Area” at Fort Lauderdale Airport
Out of the spotting points in this list, this is the only one that I only visited once so far. It is also the one I visited the most recently – during my March trip to Miami. The above shot is one of the first ones I took at the location, and it instantly became one of my favorites thanks to the palms in the background.
The traffic at Fort Lauderdale airport is, arguably, not as interesting as the traffic in Miami. However, at the same time the airport is served by quite a few airlines that do not go to Miami and as such is worth a visit if you are in the area.
Plus, on weekends the airport gets a lot of Canadian traffic which make the place seem like a “little Toronto.” If you want to see more photos from the airport, check out my “Canadian Festival at Fort Lauderdale Airport” spotting report.
Location #5: ‘P6 Car Park’ at Zurich Airport
Zurich airport was the destination of my very first spotting trip – back in 2006. At that time, however, I spent most of my day there at the excellent observation decks the airport offers and took an airport tour which included a stop close to the runways.
As for the P6 parking garage spotting point that made it onto this list, I went there for the first time in 2012.
While it is a bit difficult to take photos from the spot due to the parking garage wall made out of thick bars with quite narrow space between them, once you get used to that, it is a great location.
And, I just love the elevated view the location offers!
In Memoriam: ‘Kaagbaan’ at Amsterdam Airport
One thing you might have noticed is that the featured photo of this article is not taken at one of the above five spots. The reason is because I got the inspiration to write this post while browsing through my photos from ten years ago – more specifically my photos from the Kaagbaan spot at Amsterdam airport.
That location had it all – interesting traffic, the Amsterdam control tower in the background, and even a french fries food truck. …and it did not have fence…
While Schiphol airport offers great spotting locations even today, in my opinion, none of them matches the “Kaagbaan” spot. In fact, if there was one “lost spot” that I could revive, it would probably be this one…
My ‘Wish List’
Of course, the above is not a comprehensive list as it only includes the airports I’ve been to. However, I hope that if you haven’t been to some of them, at least one of them will make it to your “to visit” list.
As for me, there are many airports and spotting locations that I want to try spotting at in the near or distant future. Among others, my “wish list” includes the classics – like Maho Beach in St. Marteen or “helicopter spotting” at LAX. But also less frequently visited airports like Lukla in Nepal or Madeira.
How about you? What are some of the favorite spotting locations you have visited? Which ones are on your wish list?
Are there any locations that you loved to take photos from but later became inaccessible?