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LHR & CDG Spotting In December-Thoughts & Advice?  
User currently offlineNPeterman From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 174 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 7 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 6096 times:

Hello all,

As a photographer who has spent the vast majority of my spotting "career" in the vicinity of RIC (not a hotbed of widebody activity   ) I have long been hoping of pulling off a trip to the European airport capitols of the world, LHR and CDG. Such an opportunity may present itself this coming December, but I have several questions.

First, regarding LHR and CDG, I am aware that the day is pretty short at the more northern latitudes of Europe that time of year. While anything I see there is bound to be lightyears ahead of what I am used to, my question is this. During the relatively short days (roughly 0800-1600), will there be much interesting traffic to make the trip worth the cost? BA and AF are 2 airlines that I do have a fairly good amount of shots of, and I would love to catch some non-local traffic (of any size).

Regarding CDG: I know permits are required. Assuming I could get one, how easy is CDG to do without a car. As two non French speakers, would we face any massive difficulties (IE would it be impossible?)?

And lastly, assuming there was time enough, is LGW or manchester worth the travel from LHR to shoot at in your guys' collective opinions?


I would really love whatever input you might have!


Regards,

N Peterman

8 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineLifelinerOne From Netherlands, joined Nov 2003, 1907 posts, RR: 8
Reply 1, posted (1 year 7 months 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 6074 times:

Quoting NPeterman (Thread starter):
First, regarding LHR and CDG, I am aware that the day is pretty short at the more northern latitudes of Europe that time of year. While anything I see there is bound to be lightyears ahead of what I am used to, my question is this. During the relatively short days (roughly 0800-1600), will there be much interesting traffic to make the trip worth the cost? BA and AF are 2 airlines that I do have a fairly good amount of shots of, and I would love to catch some non-local traffic (of any size).

LHR is, in my opinion, always nice traffic-wise. Although a lot of interesting Asian traffic starts arriving around 16.00, I do think there's enough to catch during the day. Looking at my photo archive for 2011 (my last time to Heathrow), I shot during 08.00-16.00 some 50 not local planes (so no BA, BMI and Virgin), but things like Air Mauritius (A340), Air India B77W), PIA (B77W), Gulf Air (A330), Royal Jordanian (A330), Cyprus Airways (A33), Transaero (B734), Qatar (B77W), Austrian (B738), Aeroflot (A321), Etihad (A346) and so on.

Do remember that LHR has a runway alternation system when operating on the 27s. In the morning they will use either 27L or 27R, swapping runways around 15.00. On www.plane-mad.com at the spotting guide section of LHR you can find the scheme of the alternations. If they are on the 09's, landing will occur mainly on 09L for the whole day, with some planes using 09R, but these are limited.

Without a car, LHR can be done, especially the spot near 27L can be easily reached by underground, station Hatton Cross.

Quoting NPeterman (Thread starter):
Regarding CDG: I know permits are required. Assuming I could get one, how easy is CDG to do without a car. As two non French speakers, would we face any massive difficulties (IE would it be impossible?)?

CDG can be done by non French speakers, as I'm not one and I visit the airport at least once a year. Without a car, two good spots exists. First is near the preserved Air France Concorde. Take the CDGVAL from either terminal 1 or 2 and take the train to Roissypole. Exit at the bus station, turn left and walk past the bus station and you can already see planes taxiing on the taxiway between Terminals 1 and 2. After passing the Hilton, you can't miss the Concorde and you can climb the small hill near it for a good view over the taxiway.

Another spot, that can easily be reached without a car, is the Terminal 1 walkway. When exiting the airport at arrivals level, there's a busy road and after the road a walkway is wrapped all around the circular terminal. From there you'll have a good view on the proceedings and nice shots can be made from there. But, be careful, the walkway isn't very wide and traffic is buzzing by very close. So watch out for those side-mirros, especially from buses. Although I never experienced any problem at this spot, people have been sent away, permit or not.

Hope this helps you!

Cheers!   



Only Those Who Sleep Don't Make Mistakes
User currently offlineNPeterman From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 174 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (1 year 7 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 6046 times:

Thank you! This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for! I was definitely afraid that I would end up missing the Asian bank of arrivals at LHR, and that is too bad (was hoping to finally catch Cathay Pacific for instance among others) but it sounds like it definitely wouldn't be vain! Some of the local BA or Virgin traffic would be "new" to me as well (BA 77W, 763, VS 744, A346, etc) so it sounds like it is definitely worth the effort.


With regards to CDG, is the types and variety of traffic sufficiently different from LHR to warrant the trip, or would my time be better spent staying at LHR?


N


User currently offlineCaptainKramer From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2012, 225 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (1 year 7 months 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 6017 times:

Hi NPeterman,

December can be hit and miss with the weather. Normally if we have had a very hot summer, you can expect some snow, but Summer 2012 was one of the wettest on record, so it is anybodies guess as to what type of winter we will have over all. If it is overcast, or drizzling with rain it can make getting good shots of aircraft difficult. If you have already booked the flight then your in the lap of the Gods.

If you are able to hold off buying the ticket till the last minute, then I recommend you go on the website - 10 day weather forecast for London.co.uk - to get a better idea of what is just around the corner weather wise and hopefully there is a window of nice weather in which to visit the U.K.

I flew up to Manchester Airport for 3 days to take aircarft shots and it is probably the most photographer friendly airport in the U.K. You will find it on Plane Mad as mentioned by LifelinerOne, as well as all the other U.K. airports, giving the best spots to shoot from, during the different seasons of the year. Manchester has enough variety, Charters, Airlines, Cargo, Biz Jets, depending on scheduals etc, but if you want Turboprops look no further than Manchester. It is certainly worth the 50 minute flight North, including the chance to get up close and personal with an ex British Airways Concorde stored in it's very own dedicated Hangar and is open to public.

Hope this helps as well and good luck.


User currently offlineNPeterman From United States of America, joined Apr 2009, 174 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 7 months 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 6009 times:

Weather was my big concern. Are Decembers usually pretty bad?

User currently offlineLifelinerOne From Netherlands, joined Nov 2003, 1907 posts, RR: 8
Reply 5, posted (1 year 7 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 5970 times:

Quoting NPeterman (Reply 2):
Thank you!

You're welcome!

Quoting NPeterman (Reply 2):
With regards to CDG, is the types and variety of traffic sufficiently different from LHR to warrant the trip, or would my time be better spent staying at LHR?

Oh, I really like CDG as it has its own fair share of traffic not seen elsewhere. Ofcourse, you'll have the Air France nice locals (A380, B77F), but other interesting bits as well (Aigle Azur, Europe Airpost, Air Madagascar, Air Cairo just to name a few).

If I may choose, I would pick CDG as it has a tendency to surprise me a little more with exotic airlines.

Cheers!   



Only Those Who Sleep Don't Make Mistakes
User currently offlinewhisperjet From Germany, joined Nov 2007, 561 posts, RR: 8
Reply 6, posted (1 year 7 months 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 5951 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
PHOTO SCREENER

Quoting LifelinerOne (Reply 1):
CDG can be done by non French speakers, as I'm not one and I visit the airport at least once a year. Without a car, two good spots exists. First is near the preserved Air France Concorde. Take the CDGVAL from either terminal 1 or 2 and take the train to Roissypole. Exit at the bus station, turn left and walk past the bus station and you can already see planes taxiing on the taxiway between Terminals 1 and 2. After passing the Hilton, you can't miss the Concorde and you can climb the small hill near it for a good view over the taxiway.

The spot is not accessible anymore as far as I know. When I was there end of May it was had been turned into a construction site. Better verify with somebody who has been there recently in order to avoid disappointment.

Stefan



Nobody is perfect - not even a perfect fool.
User currently offlineCaptainKramer From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2012, 225 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (1 year 7 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 5928 times:

Sorry I didn't reply earlier, but I wasn't online by the time you replied to my post.

December can be bad, low level cloud, sometimes drizzle, (although rain has been more like downpours like you find in the tropics of late!) which makes things alot darker given the sun will be low on the horizon already, but you do get windows of nice weather, clear skies, all day from sun up to sun down, but they don't last long, maybe 2 pr 3 days if your lucky. On other days it will start out cloudy and then clear up nicely for the last 3 or 4 hours of available sunlight before the sunsets, or it can be the complete reverse, at sunrise it is nice and clear then after a few hours it starts to cloud over. Being a local it is not an issue, just look out the window, if the weather forecasters have got it wrong. For you that luxury is not available unless you are here. In January and February you can also get these windows where the weather is severe clear as the pilots like to say, blue skies and wispy clouds.

In case you are still considering giving it a go there are 2 hotels right near London Heathrow I might mention. One is the Jury Inn which is near Myrtle Avenue and Hatton Cross Underground Tube Station which is at runway 027L and 027R end. The other is the Thistle Hotel that is down towards Terminal 5 at the other end next to runway 09L end.

Also I want to clarify that you should type in "10 day weather forecast for London" which will give you a good cross section of local weather forecast providers online, to give you a better variety of views of what the longer term weather forecast "maybe"

At the end of the day, you never know your luck unless you try.

Good Luck if you take the plunge.


User currently offlineLifelinerOne From Netherlands, joined Nov 2003, 1907 posts, RR: 8
Reply 8, posted (1 year 7 months 21 hours ago) and read 5888 times:

Quoting whisperjet (Reply 6):
The spot is not accessible anymore as far as I know. When I was there end of May it was had been turned into a construction site. Better verify with somebody who has been there recently in order to avoid disappointment.

I've been there two weeks ago. You could still go up near the Concorde.

Cheers!   



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