Sponsor Message:
Aviation Photography Forum
My Starred Topics | Profile | New Topic | Forum Index | Help | Search 
Seattle Tacoma Intl. Airport Spotting  
User currently offline777LR From United States of America, joined Apr 2011, 58 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 10 months 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4871 times:

Hello,

Does anyone know what runways are generally used in arrivals and departures at Seatac airport during the winter (around December)? Would aircraft use the 16s or 34s? Also, does anyone know about the parking garage located just east of the airport? It is surrounded by Arrivals Drive and Pacific Highway South and has the spiral loops that go up to the top floor. How is that location for spotting? I'm thinking of video recording planes in addition to photography, and after looking at some spotting guides for SEA, I think the top floor of the parking garage is the only place where I can get an overview of the airport, runway, and terminals.

Thanks
777LR

4 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinecargolex From United States of America, joined Apr 2010, 1268 posts, RR: 8
Reply 1, posted (2 years 10 months 21 hours ago) and read 4845 times:

The parking garage will allow you to some of what's going on, but only at fairly extreme distances. And much of the action is blocked by other buildings.

This location is only really good for watching what's going on at N-gate, and even then, most of it is blocked by D-gate, and everything is pretty far away (you'll need 400mm). You can't see very much of what is going on at S-gate from the roof, and even if you could, much of it is blocked by A-gate and that whole area is employee-only parking. Probably not a problem for a quick spot, but not so good to camp out in. You won't see anything that's happening at the cargo area or B-gate from the parking garage, and C-gate is only barely visible.

Unfortunately, without special access (i.e. you work there or have a professional relationship with the airport), it is very difficult to get on-tarmac shots of anything at SEA. The entire airport is on a plateau above street level on both sides.
Out of all of my photos at SEA, only a handful are of aircraft on the ground, and those were taken airside.

The best spots are South 188th st. and the water tower. The water tower in particular is a really nice place just because it's a nice quiet park. Both are generally "plane against a blue sky" kind of territory.

Quoting 777LR (Thread starter):
Does anyone know what runways are generally used in arrivals and departures at Seatac airport during the winter (around December)? Would aircraft use the 16s or 34s?

It depends entirely on the wind, and there's no predicting that. There are multiple configurations that the ATC's use, however, to determine the which of the runways get the most use. For example today 16C was getting alot of use in the morning but many of the mid-day heavies were on 16L. Except for Asiana, which was on 16R. As noon approached, 16R got more use and 16C less. It pays to listen to the ATCs to determine where to be.


User currently offline777LR From United States of America, joined Apr 2011, 58 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (2 years 10 months 12 hours ago) and read 4803 times:

Quoting cargolex (Reply 1):
You can't see very much of what is going on at S-gate from the roof, and even if you could, much of it is blocked by A-gate and that whole area is employee-only parking.

That's too bad then because I wanted a location that would provide best views of the South Satellite.

Quoting cargolex (Reply 1):
The best spots are South 188th st. and the water tower. The water tower in particular is a really nice place just because it's a nice quiet park. Both are generally "plane against a blue sky" kind of territory.

I checked the Google street view for the South 188th st. location and it seems that the runway is going to be above you when shooting. Is it possible to walk up the hill to get some views of the touchdown?


User currently offlineJonny From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 45 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 10 months ago) and read 4761 times:

Seattle uses the 16's and the 34's almost at random. I was in Seattle for 5 days, and I think they literally went one day with the 16s, another with the 34s...etc.

Like cargolex said, the view from the parking garage is likely to obstruct much of the overview. But I have a friend who says it's a good place. Honestly, I don't know what to tell you there. But, beware that from the parking garage, afternoon shots will be backlit.


User currently offlinecargolex From United States of America, joined Apr 2010, 1268 posts, RR: 8
Reply 4, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 4723 times:

Quoting 777LR (Reply 2):

I checked the Google street view for the South 188th st. location and it seems that the runway is going to be above you when shooting. Is it possible to walk up the hill to get some views of the touchdown?

Nope. It's all fenced off and patrolled. You can stand anywhere along S. 188th pretty much hassle free (though the police might ask for ID, they are aware of the high number of aviation photographers living in and visiting Seattle and are generally friendly as long as you are not doing really egregious things) - but S. 188th isn't as nice as the water tower because it is a very busy road with lots of fast moving traffic. If you are there shooting takeoffs, you also cannot see anything that is coming towards you until it is right on top of you, though you can hear the approach of the engines.

South 188th can yield fun results though. My favorite S. 188th shot:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © A. Kwanten



At this time of year, the sun is at an ideal angle for all takeoffs over S. 188th from about 1:30/2 pm to sunset, which just happens to coincide with the time when the heavies are leaving. So you might want to try for that if there's a southern flow of traffic (16s).

The morning is difficult from virtually anywhere if the aircraft are in a northern flow (34s), because there are very few good spots to see things on the south side of the airport when the sun is in the east. There may once have been, but trees have grown up to obscure many spots and construction has eliminated others. The creation of 16R/34L also eliminated some spots.

This shot, for example - likely taken near the golf course - is essentially impossible now:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Hiromichi Miyagaki



But the afternoon yields good results from S. 188th:


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Brandon Farris
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © A. Kwanten



There is a place where you can see almost everything that's going on overall - but it's very far away.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Rob Rindt - Spot This!



This photo was probably taken from a park that's about a half mile from the northwestern perimeter of the airport. It's quite overgrown now (there was probably much less vegetation when this photo was taken), but it's still there. You can see everything, but you'll need a king-sized lens and good environmental conditions to get any photos from here. It's called Mathison Park. Nice park to walk in, broad view of the airport in the winter, but nowhere near the action.


Top Of Page
Forum Index

This topic is archived and can not be replied to any more.

Printer friendly format

Similar topics:More similar topics...
Miami Intl Airport Hotel... Info Please posted Thu Jan 6 2005 15:43:35 by LHRSIMON
Tripoli Intl Airport (TIP / HLLT) Aerial Photos posted Wed Apr 21 2004 10:51:47 by Aviator9H
Tripoli Intl Airport (TIP / HLLT) Aerial Photos posted Wed Apr 21 2004 10:50:18 by Aviator9H
Seattle Tacoma Spotters Guide posted Thu May 1 2003 23:14:35 by Rsmith6621a
Macau Intl Airport - Photo Opps? posted Sat Jun 23 2001 16:08:48 by Andyhunt
Seattle Airport, Good For Pictures? posted Sat Dec 8 2001 13:16:48 by Lugonza_2001
So Airport Security And Photography? posted Tue Nov 1 2011 14:32:39 by conoramoia
Spottiong At Changi Airport posted Thu Oct 27 2011 17:56:59 by b777vna
MUC Airport Hotel posted Sat Oct 15 2011 08:52:32 by comair25
Spotting Chattanooga Airport posted Tue Oct 4 2011 16:18:23 by kassewyski