ekepeke From Sweden, joined May 2007, 2 posts, RR: 0 Posted (6 months 3 weeks 2 days ago) and read 3641 times:
My name is Erik Linge and I'm an aircraft photographer currently based in Kalmar, Sweden. Within a month I will be going on a trip to the USA. Firstly I will visit New York for a few days before staying for more than a week in Beach Haven, NJ.
I've been thinking a little about spending some time flightspotting when I'm in USA. There's another offer of airlines and aircrafts than I'm used to here at my local airport and in Sweden overall...
Since I wont be able to get around by car, I need to visit airports which can be reached by public transportation. Therefore, I want to ask you about which airport in the NY-area, which is the best given my criterias. Is there any good spotting-guide to use?
When I'm in Beach Haven I've heard that Philadelphia Airport can be reached relatively easy. Is this airport easy to get around by foot? I know that Atlantic City Airport also is pretty close and I might like to spend a few hours there as well despite the limited traffic... Anyone been there and who can tell anything about the flightspotting-possibilities?
Lastly, I just want to get your ideas about how to make sure that I wont get in trouble with the police while spotting. I'm not especially interested in getting my gear confiscated. Is it safe to be a flightspotter generally in the US? As I said, I wont be able to use car, so a dismissal wouldn't be especially funny.
I know that this is many questions and I'm not expecting to get every single of them answered. If there's an existing thread (which I'm almost sure that there is), please just send me a link to that one. (I've been searching a lot for this, but haven't really found anything which answers my questions...).
moose135 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2149 posts, RR: 11 Reply 1, posted (6 months 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 3553 times:
Erik, visit NYCAviation.com - you will find extensive spotting guides to the NY area airports, and friendly folks on the forum to help you out.. You can get to some of the popular spotting locations around JFK and LGA via public transportation. It's not easy or fast, but we have a few members of the local spotting community who do travel that way. You do have to watch for runway changes at JFK, as you can miss a bunch waiting on the bus to get to a new location.
I haven't spotted much at PHL, and never via public transportation, so I can't help you much there, but we have a couple of regulars on the forum (here and NYCA) who can give you advice.
You will not have your gear confiscated by the police. You may be questioned, so have your ID/passport handy, be friendly and polite, and you shouldn't have any problems. Occasionally you may find a police officer who gives you a tough time, but they are becoming fewer, and most of the time, police are simply checking you out because some "concerned citizen" reported something. It is not illegal to take photos of airplanes, despite what some people try to tell you, and you should be fine.
kiffy From United States of America, joined Mar 2010, 136 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (6 months 3 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 3525 times:
PHL is a great place to go spotting and virtually any spot is accessible by public transportation if you're willing to do some walking in the hot sun. I have never been bothered by any authorities there (bring your I.D. just in case). However you do have to stay on the opposite side of the road then the airport.
For public transportation the airport is served by bus and the Airport Line Regional Rail at nearly all terminals. Here you can get to the other side of the airport by taking the 108 bus to the UPS hub on Hog Island Road (which runs the length of the airport). Here you can go to the arrivals (east), usually runway 27R (most used, about a 2.5 mile walk), runway 35 (some regional and private arrivals, about a 1.5 mile walk) or departures (west) usually runway 27L (most used, about a .5 mile walk). You can stay on the shoulder of the road or on the old railroad tracks to take photos. I caution you from standing in the grass for there are lots of ticks this time of year.
Here’s a more detailed thread of the spotting locations: PHL Spotting? (by Nicoya505 Aug 3 2011 in Aviation Photography)
As far as Atlantic City I hear spotting is highly discouraged by security and if they see you, you will be asked to leave.
Thanks for the tip! NYCAviation looks great. I'm pretty used to use bus and then walk around while spotting, but I'm a little unsure about how it is to do this in the USA. Your answer really helped me a lot, thank you again.
That sounds amazing! I will most likely take a few hours in PHL, then. Will I be able to pay bus-tickets by cash on the bus or how does this work in PHL? Thanks for that thread, will print out both your answer and that thread.
megatop412 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 294 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (6 months 2 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 3489 times:
Hey Erik, I photograph at both JFK and PHL on a pretty regular basis. If you want to photograph @ PHL be ready to do a lot of walking. Yes you can take the bus from the terminals to UPS and walk from there, but you'll be picking either arrivals or departures because once you're at one end you'll not want to walk all the way down to the other end with camera equipment in the heat of summer.
JFK is a lot tougher to get around without a car because the spots you can take pictures from are pretty far apart. You can see some really nice traffic at JFK, though. I've never tried spotting at Atlantic City.
Shoot me an email if you decide to come to Philadelphia. If I'm not working when you're in town I'd be happy to show you around. And, to echo what Moose said, you will not have your gear taken away. All of my interactions with the police at PHL have been friendly, at least up till now!
kiffy From United States of America, joined Mar 2010, 136 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (6 months 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 3477 times:
Quoting Ekepeke (Reply 3): Will I be able to pay bus-tickets by cash on the bus or how does this work in PHL?
You can pay with cash but it has to be exact change. A better bet would be purchasing some SEPTA tokens beforehand; you can get those at most stations.
Quoting megatop412 (Reply 4): If you want to photograph @ PHL be ready to do a lot of walking. Yes you can take the bus from the terminals to UPS and walk from there, but you'll be picking either arrivals or departures because once you're at one end you'll not want to walk all the way down to the other end with camera equipment in the heat of summer.
Haha, well, I'm pretty used to do walking since it's very rarely that I can use car, when spotting. Don't know if these distances match the regular distances I usually do, though....
Thanks for the tips regarding PHL. It would be a pleasure to have a local photographer showing me around. If I'll go spotting at PHL it will be around 23-29 of June (depending on weather...). However I'll drop you an email when It's getting a bit closer to these dates and when I know more...
In New York I probably won't spend that much time spotting so I'm thinking about just taking a morning (since the jetlag from Europe probably will keep me up during the mornings....) out on the field. So staying on just a spot would be fine. Are these runway changes at JFK just temporary or are a change directly connected with that the traffic will be use that another runway for a few hours? Because if I go there I wanna be sure of that I at least will catch a few planes and not standing at a runway which isn't in use at all....
megatop412 From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 294 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (6 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 3195 times:
Quoting Ekepeke (Reply 6): Are these runway changes at JFK just temporary or are a change directly connected with that the traffic will be use that another runway for a few hours? Because if I go there I wanna be sure of that I at least will catch a few planes and not standing at a runway which isn't in use at all....
They rotate the use of the runways on a regular basis, a few times a day, as long as the winds don't demand a certain runway heading. And patterns can also vary by season. They can on the 4's in the morning, which gets switched to the 31's for a few hours, to wind up on the 22's by evening. It's very maddening to say the least. You could get to a spot to watch 31R arrivals, and be there for 10 minutes when they switch suddenly to 22L(this just happened to me).
(718)995-8188 is the phone for JFK ATIS, maybe call it once you arrive to see what configuration they're using.
Next Wednesday is the Atlantic City Airshow, they just confirmed a Harrier demo so I will try to catch that, so I hope to be free to go to PHL one of the other days next week