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MEM Spotting  
User currently offlineDelta767-400 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 228 posts, RR: 2
Posted (7 years 9 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 2399 times:

I will be in MEM from the 10-12 of nov and was wondering where some good spots to get some FX planes would be. I noticed on flytecomm that a slew of them seem to come in in the morning. Do FX planes tend to use the same runway? Is there any place I can go to get good pictures of the majority of them? I am also aware that huge amounts of them are parked on their ramp. Is there any place I can drive around to get them?

Thanks
Matt

3 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineJohnJ From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 1656 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (7 years 9 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 2368 times:

Matt:

The FedEx planes can use any of MEM's four runways. Runway 9/27 runs right in front of the FedEx SuperHub complex and is primarily used during busier periods. It's not an easy runway for photography at either end. MEM's busiest runways are the north-south ones (18L, C, R and 36L, C, R) and you'd be best served to concentrate on them. Getting shots of the hub complex itself is very difficult, and unless you have ramp access it's not likely you'll have much success with photography (although a drive around the complex is worthwhile, as you can get some glimpses here and there). It's an amazing facility. The fact that you're there on a weekend might put a wrinkle in your plans, as the FedEx traffic will probably be way down. You can check out FlightAware on a weekend to see what kind of volume you can expect.

The best overall spot in my opinion at Memphis is the roof of the parking garage. Here, excellent views can be had of Runway 18R/36L in the morning:


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Photo © John E. Jauchler



And of Runways 18C and L/36C and R in the afternoon:


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Photo © John E. Jauchler



If operations are to the north, you can get departure shots like these from the garage:


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Photo © John E. Jauchler



Be aware that I've been hassled by airport police while on the garage. I didn't argue with the officer, but I did call the airport public relations office after the incident and they said it was perfectly OK to be there. I might suggest checking in with airport operations just to let them know you'll be there - it might save you some trouble.

The best location in Memphis used to be a strip of vacant land along Airways Blvd. running alongside Runway 18R/36L. Unfortunately, that area has now been marked with dozens of no trespassing signs and no parking signs, and the airport public relations person I spoke to about the garage specifically said to stay away from that area. That said, it is possible to get shots from there - but do so at your own risk and do not linger in the area:


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Photo © John E. Jauchler



There used to be a spot in an office park near the intersection of Shelby Drive and Swinnea Road that afforded good views of Runways 36R and C in the morning. They're building a new Tennessee Air National Guard C-5 base in that area now and it's likely the view has been spoiled. You can give it a try, though:


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Photo © John E. Jauchler



I was in Memphis in August and found that when the 36s are in use it's a very challenging photography airport (the garage is no good for landings on the 36s). I prefer landing shots to takeoff shots overall, and about the only place I could find to capture arrivals on 36C and 36R was a wide spot on East Holmes Road, about a half-mile off the end of the runways. Take Airways south to E. Holmes, take a left and go down about a mile. You'll see an area where the road was widened in front of a cemetery. You can pull over here and get some OK shots:


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Photo © John E. Jauchler



For 36L landings about your only choice is the off-limits areas along Airways. One other spot, not so great for photography but excellent for just watching some action, is behind the Radisson Hotel at the entrance to the airport:


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Photo © John E. Jauchler



The Northwest Airlines Amsterdam flight (A330 equipment) comes in around 5 p.m., and there a Northwest 757-300 that arrives around 5:15 - those are probably the two most interesting passenger planes at the airport. Northwest has three flight banks (morning, midday and early evening) and you'll see loads of CRJs, DC-9s and Airbii, plus a few 757s. The biggest FedEx push is in the middle of the night, but the one in the morning is pretty impressive, too. FedEx planes come and go all day long, so don't worry if you miss the morning window - but be aware that I think the afternoon push doesn't operate on Fridays.

Good luck and say hello to my old hometown!

John


User currently offlineDelta767-400 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 228 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (7 years 9 months 5 days ago) and read 2328 times:

thanks for that very comprehensive overview. i will put it to good use

User currently offlineDispatcher From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 253 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (7 years 9 months 23 hours ago) and read 2270 times:

One more spot you didn't mention, albeit I haven't been there in a few years and don't know what the situation is now. On the far East side of the airport on the approach to runway 27 there is an aviation school of some sort with a parking lot facing the FedEx facility. Got these from there (obviously been a while as you can see by the date!)


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Photo © Brad Hayes
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Photo © Brad Hayes



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