UltimatePilot24 From UK - England, joined Dec 2012, 1 posts, RR: 0 Posted (11 months 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 4008 times:
I am thinking about going spotting for aircraft at my nearest airport, Gatwick, in the next few weeks. I was just wondering if there is any "Higher-rated" spots (Obviously not fire exits and motorway sliproads, aha), so that I could take some nice photographs and maybe catch some videos. I was down there about a month ago and it seemed busy, people were tucking in the cars into wherever they can park them and take pictures (There was even a guy watching aircraft fly over on the hard shoulder of the M21..). Anyway, thanks, and I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year
"If like doesn't knock, build a door." *Future Pilot for British Airways*
TupolevTu154 From UK - England, joined Aug 2004, 2159 posts, RR: 30 Reply 1, posted (11 months 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3882 times:
How will you be getting to the airport? By car or by train? It also depends on which runway is in use. If it's 26 it's easy to walk to a fairly decent spot (by Gatwick standards) from the terminal. If it's 08 then you've got a 45 minute walk ahead of you.
Gatwick is pretty crap for spotting, unless the wind is favourable and 08 is in use. Can't speak too highly of the traffic either, for the heavies you want to get to the airport for early morning 0500 onwards (in summer obviously otherwise you'll be in the dark). After lunch time things get boring.
Depending on your answer to the above question, I'll let you know how to get to the sweet spots.
Flyingfox27 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2007, 423 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (11 months 2 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 3621 times:
If arriving by train and walking on foot without a car then its midway down East Perimer Road but stay on the path side as fence side they move you on. I did try walking to 08R once but they told me to go back halfway down, nice they gave me a lift back though!.
I did try and take the bus to Charlwood and walk back but this bus is inaffective as miss one and you wil be waiting an hour for the next one home or a £20 taxi fare to nearby Crawley.
Your best bet if you want variety is MAN wherethers better viewing or go to Heathrow where theres plenty more spots.
A388 From Netherlands Antilles, joined May 2001, 9417 posts, RR: 11 Reply 3, posted (11 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 3576 times:
I was thinking of this a few days ago as well. One day I want to go spotting in LHR and as I will be there anyways, I would also like to go spotting at LGW. I want to combine my trip with a visit to the Farnborough Air Show when it's there. This show is close to LHR, right?
So TupolevTu154, bring on those sweet spots as I am a total stranger to the entire London area.
TupolevTu154 From UK - England, joined Aug 2004, 2159 posts, RR: 30 Reply 4, posted (11 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 3557 times:
Quoting A388 (Reply 3): So TupolevTu154, bring on those sweet spots as I am a total stranger to the entire London area.
As Lewis seems to have disappeared into the ether of time, your wish is my command. I make no apology for self-plugging (some of) my shots for various spots.
Runway 26 spots;
There's only really one location worth shooting at for runway 26 ops, and that's the perimeter road, where most of the shots that appear on a.net have been taken. Runway 26 is used about 65% of the time (estimate).
Anywhere south of the centreline is good for most of the year (the only exception being early morning and evening in summer). There's only a small window for shooting though, as a hedge obscures a view of the approach so the aircraft appear without much prior warning. The spot can be found on google maps with this link; http://goo.gl/maps/GSzCe . Perimeter rd E is what you're looking for, and most people congregate to the right of the car park. As FlyingFox said, don't go up to the fence or you'll get moved on.
Getting there from the South terminal is easy. Just follow signs to the easyJet/Virgin Atlantic check in areas. Once there head over to the easyJet ticket desk in the far corner and you'll see a pair of double doors on the right, go through these doors and take the staircase down on the left. You'll be outside once at the bottom, just walk straight ahead and you'll be looking down the runway in no time. If you're driving, you can park your car a 10 minute walk away for free. Head into the Manor Royal industrial estate (via Gatwick Road, where the CAA HQ is) and park down James Watt Way (http://goo.gl/maps/otSmz).
There are only a couple of other locations for 26 but they're at the other end of the runway, so I'll include them in the 08 spots below. Focal length for the above location can be anything from 50mm-300mm depending where you stand and how big the subject is.
Runway 08 spots
Runway 08 ops are less frequent but offer alot more in the way of shooting, and can afford the following photographs.
This is the "standard" type of shot from 08, nothing special. But if you're into side-ons then this is for you (much the same as 26). To get there you need to head along the Charlwood road/Lowfield Heath Road and park opposite the Flight Tavern pub, then walk up to the end. Parking anywhere near the end is a big no-no and you'll be moved on very quickly. Public transport doesn't exist here and to get there from the terminal is at least a 45 minute walk, down a busy road with no footpath. If I remember correctly, for a couple of pounds, you can catch the Airparks bus (Not public) from the South Terminal to the long term car park which is right next to the threshold of 08, so is pretty convenient. I don't know if this opportunity still exists but I know it used to at some point. Focal length, is about 50mm-400mm depending on where you stand and what angles you want.
For the above spot you have to be light, nimble and curious. There's somewhere that gives great views of aircraft lining up on 08, as well as some runway 26 departures (see below). I'm not saying any more than that because it may get you in trouble with the authorities (I've never had any issues personally, but I'd hazard a guess it's frowned upon and I don't want to ruin it for other photographers out there by posting it all over the internet). For this spot you probably need 200mm+.
I can, however, show you where it is; http://goo.gl/maps/aRDo0. Zoom out of this map to get a general idea of the geography of the area.
Next up is the approach lights, which is a personal favourite of mine and I've spent a fair amount of time here without trouble in the past. But I have heard of people getting moved on. It's private property so the police won't allow you access if they're hanging around. Pretty easy to find and you get fantastic views.
This link has some awesome videos taken from the approach lights and other various places around the 08 end, http://www.youtube.com/user/gatwickspotting Focal length can be anything from 10mm (for aircraft over your head) to 400mm+ for aircraft about to touch down/rotate (for 26L ops).
Further on from the approach lights, on the same road, is the crash gate. Best time for this spot is in the early evening in summer and gives you shots like these;
The latter was taken with a ladder. Shooting is easy through the fence, and this spot gets busy on summer evenings. To get a full side on of larger aircraft you need 50mm.
The last place is the most difficult to access, and only possible with a car and often a pair of chest waders! Only useful in the summer months in early morning and evening. Follow the road past the end of 08 and you'll get to the village of Charlwood, once you get to the first junction, turn right. Follow the road for a mile or so and on the right there's a very small turning that takes you towards a nursery/child care centre. Park outside a gate on the small road (not in the nursery car park) and head into the nature reserve. Turn right and follow the path all the way around. It follows a small river (though if it's been raining it'll be big). Walk through the reserve for 20 minutes or so and eventually you'll get to another crash gate and a bench where shots like this can be had;
Both the above shots were taken when 26 is in use, and the aircraft start to backtrack towards the terminals on taxiway Juliet. Focal length for the A380 shot wasn't far off 10mm.
If there hasn't been rainfall for a while, there is a crossing point in the river mid way along the walk where you can jump across and climb up a mound to shoot over the fence. Focal length of 150-400 is good here.
The traffic at LGW is uninspiring. A handful of VS 747's and BA 777's in the morning, mostly EZY Airbus' and BA 737's at other times, with NAX, FR, BE and EI being the majority of other movements. Charter airlines such as Monarch, Thomson and Thomas Cook are based at LGW too.
This is all that comes to mind at the moment, and I hope it's easy to understand. Feel free to ask any questions!
(A note to screeners etc, the two large shots haven't been submitted to the queue. I only wanted the benefit of a watermark because I'm too lazy to do it myself in photoshop)