Mudboy From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 1167 posts, RR: 5 Posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 3449 times:
Hello, this is first post, so I will start with a question I have wanted to ask after months of reading this great site. What airport in the world, is the "MECCA" for every airline/cargo plane enthusiast to visit, at least once before they die? I have been to: ORD,JFK,LAX,DEN,SAN,ATL,MEM,JAN,MDW,LGA,BOS,MCO,MSP,CVG,LHR,AMS, and FCO. The specifics of this question would be: Large planes, Busy, Multiple Airlines/Cargo,and Multiple Terminals.
YOWza From Canada, joined Jul 2005, 4830 posts, RR: 16 Reply 1, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 3421 times:
Well if you want cargo carrier variety and lots of big birds FRA and AMS are good for sure. But if you want to see cuthroat world cargo ops I think Sharjah in the UAE has to be up there. Lot's of carriers (or should that be couriers) huge variety of metal, Western and Soviet. Well worth a visit.
Sabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 10, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 3281 times:
Definitely Sharjah if you want to see something different (lots of African/Asian airlines and Russian aircraft types). There were even ramp tours (for 100 USD IIRC) available in the past but I don't know if it is still possible nowadays.
Sharjah is by car only approximately 30 minutes away from Dubai, so it is perfect to combine a vacation on nice beaches with a shopping and spotting trip!
A388 From Netherlands Antilles, joined May 2001, 9410 posts, RR: 11 Reply 12, posted (7 years 11 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 3194 times:
I think there is no 'one' airport in the world that can be considered the best or Mecca airport for aviation/cargo enthusiasts. Besides the fact that it depends on which aircraft you prefer seeing, there is no airport that can truly be compared to each other. To give an example, MIA is the best airport for people who love to see Latin American airlines, in that case MIA is the Mecca of all airports. If people want to see almost (if not all) major airlines from the rest of the world (excl. Latin America) than LHR and FRA would be the better locations. If you like to see most (if not all) African airlines, than CDG would be the best place. If Asian airlines are your thing, SIN, BKK, KUL, HKG, SYD, NRT and LAX are the best places. If you want to see all the A380 airlines, LHR would be the place to be. If you want to see most 777 operators, LHR would probably be the best place as well. If you want to see Russian 'rare' aircraft, SHJ (Sharjah) appears to be a good place.
So it depends on what your priorities or favorites are. As for me, I would love to go to LHR again one day. This airport has a lot of variety in my opinion, but I also wouldn't mind going to MIA as this airport is the Latin American 'hub' as some people call it
ZKNEA From New Zealand, joined Dec 2005, 151 posts, RR: 1 Reply 21, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 2504 times:
Glad to see I'm not the only one that instantly thought SHJ when I saw the title of this thread.
Though not on a grand scale or anything, has anyone here been to Fujeirah I think it was where just outside the airport there is (or was) a HUGE russian/soviet looking aircraft just sat in the sand as scrap. It was a few years ago so maybe its been moved, don't know the type either - have photos somewhere but not sure where. It wasn't far from the rifle club, so maybe not at the airport itself. It was just amazing the size of it and you could walk up to it and look around - not fenced off or anything. It's those sorts of a/c that I would love to go watch in action at Sharjah.
YukonTrader From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 207 posts, RR: 7 Reply 22, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 2442 times:
Quoting ZKNEA (Reply 21): It's those sorts of a/c that I would love to go watch in action at Sharjah.
That can be the problem with SHJ: True, there's a lot of rare iron sitting there on the ground, but very often that's all it does: sit there...
I've already spent some days in SHJ with less than 10-12 movements during daylight hours, and the max. I've ever had must have been something like 25-30 movements during daytime, with Lufthansa Cargo usually being the busiest daytime visitor. Some of the exotic airlines tend to fly at night (obvious reason: cooler temparatures that allow the crews zo squeeze a bit more thrust out of their Solovievs and Kuznetsovs!), others can sit there for days or weeks waiting for their next assignment.
ANC is definitely an excellent choice for US and Asian freight aircraft, offering a good mix of freigth ops and other movements to keep your camera busy. In addition to that, it offers scenic surroundings, and long daylight hours during the Northern summer rewarding you with excellent chances to finally shoot all those Asian MD-11F and B747F. On the other hand, it is a large airfield, and you'll inevitably end-up with just seeing that rare bird heading for the "wrong" runway.
Same applies for LHR and FRA, you'll just have a fair share of birds taking the other runway. On the other hand, these airports are busy & diverse enough to still offer you a full bucket of surprises any day, and if you can stay for a couple of days in a row, you'll get what you want, sooner or later.
LUX in Europe is definitely worth it, despite it small size. Like with other smaller airports, it all can depend whether you pick a good or slow day. Still, its well developed Cargo handling facilities make it a viable alternative to the large European airports (AMS, FRA, LHR) which are already crammed with PAX flights and are not really enthusiastic about alloting yet a slot to another freighter. The LUX-mix is made up from African, Asian, American and European (East & West) freight operators, including a good mixture of aircraft types: I've seen photographers taking in 20+ different B747F on one day, along with the odd DC-10F, An-12, B737F, Tu-204 and DC-8F. Two more benefits to take into account:
- Other than ANC, FRA or LHR, it is a one-runway-airport, i.e. you cannot miss a thing.
- Along the perimeter fence, you find several spots that allow for good photography...
A final word: It all depends on what you call a mecca. A while ago, Oostende in Belgium used to be the place if you wanted to see all these odd DC-8s and B707s from Africa uniting in one place. Those glory days are over now, and today I regret I've been there only twice while it lasted, stupidly thinking the handful of movements a day was not worth it...