Midway DC9-10
Topic Author
Posts: 246
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2000 2:51 am

Best Photo Ops For NW Planes(DTW Or MSP)

Thu Dec 06, 2001 4:06 am

I wanted to drive to Detroit or Minneapolis to photograph NW Airlines' planes. Which of these two airports is best for:

1) NW fleet ( I want to see 727, DC9-10, DC10, and 747)

2) NW Airlink photo ops (any plane)

2) Photography opportunities for NON-ticketed persons.

3) Action photography- mainly approach shots!
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2001 6:21 am

RE: Best Photo Ops For NW Planes(DTW Or MSP)

Thu Dec 06, 2001 7:16 am

About DTW.

You are guaranteed to see all of the above types of planes at DTW. The 744's come in from Asia in the morning and early afternoon. They all depart early to late afternoon. From what I understand from MSP people was that they haven't seen a 744 for a long time at MSP because they usually use a 742 to Asia. There are still DC-9-10s at DTW but they are disappearing with the ARJ-85s. There are still a lot of DC-10s in Detroit and you can always catch one parked by the DC-10 hanger along Goddard/Wick Road which runs parallel to the Norfolk and Southern train tracks and I-94. A lot of DC-10s arrive from Europe between 3p-6p, Several depart after 5:30p unfortunately its dark though.

Not that many 727s flying anymore, I still see them occassionally but a lot have reportedly been grounded since 9-11.

Northwest Airlink ops- tons of Saab 340s and ARJ-85s from Mesaba. There is a quick growing amount of Express Airlines CRJ-200s.

NOW the problem is where to take the pictures. If you ever read any of my other posts you probably have seen me bitching about the cops. They are real pricks even pre 9-11. There used to be an unofficial spot that was between Goddard/Wick Road and an access road in the flight path of Runway 21R which is the longest runway and most frequently used by the internationals. The planes would land 50-100 feet right over your head. This was the old Checkpoint 6. They moved Checkpoint 6 next to the DC-10 hanger and closed that parking area. On nice summer days that parking area would be loaded and the cops would be cool about viewing they just wanted to watch for underage drinking and people smoking blunt.

Anyway, that place is Long gone. With all the construction going on at DTW it is hard to find a place where no one will bother you.

Another place I liked to go was on Northline Road where it ends right at Runway 21L next to the Mesaba Hangar, but I have been kicked out several times by the pigs. One place where cops didn't bug you was on Wayne Road at the approach to Runway 3L (21R). Unfortunately Wayne Road is closed because the brand new runway was built over it. Actually Wayne Road was detoured around the new runway, but the new runway isn't open yet.

The best bet might be to go on top of the parking garage at DTW where you got a view of all the runways, but you will prob need a telephoto. I don't think they will let you past the metal detectors at DTW unless you are ticketed and there really is nothing to see on this side of the metal detector. There were some great spots on the ends of the concourses, but you can't get back there now.

My other idea would be to try to park in the overflow lot that goes next to 21C and 21L, you might get some great take off or landing shots depending what way the wind is from, but 21C is too short for the 747s to take off from, occassionally DC-10s use it, but 21C is the busiest landing runway.

This is how the runways work (until the 4th is opened)

21L/3R- used primarily for landing, very rarely do planes take off from it.

21C/3C used primarily for take offs and overflow landing. The busiest takeoff runway. The largest that land usually on 21C is a 757. It is used for landing when the other 2 are backed up with landings and not many are takingoff.

21R/3L the main landing runway, used mostly for the heavies, but the heavies often land on 21L too. Heavies take off from 21R. 21R is also used for takeoff on peak takeoff times when 21C is backed up with 30 or so planes waiting to take off.
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Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2000 8:30 am

RE: Best Photo Ops For NW Planes(DTW Or MSP)

Thu Dec 06, 2001 8:40 am

Here is a rare site; a British Airways B777 landing on 27R! As I was walking to my car after work, I looked acrossed the airfield and it was a strange site. Another day, a DC9 took off from 27L and it seemed as though it was flying right over the terminals. It was cool site. And love the roar.

I noticed on a trip to DFW in October, the main 3L/21R was remarked as 4L/22R (so I'm guessing the new runway is going to be 4R/22L?). I haven't gotten confirmation that since 3C/21C is no longer the center runway, it's now 21R/3L.

HlwydCatft, did you notice how the runway light posts come all the way to the freeway! They better secure those with some guardrails!

Planespotting info at http://fly.to/detroitmetro

RE: Best Photo Ops For NW Planes(DTW Or MSP)

Thu Dec 06, 2001 11:54 am

Yes, the runways have been renumbered.

The new runway is 4L/22R
3L/21R now 4R/22L
3C/21C now 3L/21R
3R/21L still 3R/21L

The crosswinds 9L/27R & 9R/27L still the same.

Another place that is decent is the parking lots of some hotels on Merriman & Wick Road (North of I-94). The one motel (I can't remember the name right now) up against I-94 is pretty good. Its right below the 22L approach. For landings on 21L try off on Middle Belt Road, I've never really been over there, but it may be worth a try with the on property spots limited. The Green lot used to be good as in backs right up to the parallel taxiway to 3L/21R, however this lot has been reduced in size due the construction of the new South/Midfield Terminal access road. Also, the cops may not like you standing around so close to an active runway and restricted area (< 50 yards).

Right now you're best bet is probably the deck.
Midway DC9-10
Topic Author
Posts: 246
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2000 2:51 am

RE: Best Photo Ops For NW Planes(DTW Or MSP)

Thu Dec 06, 2001 1:40 pm

I really appreciate the DTW info. I can understand how hard it is sometimes to find good spots, especially after 9/11.

Does anybody think I would have better luck at MSP?

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Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2001 3:19 pm

RE: Best Photo Ops For NW Planes(DTW Or MSP)

Thu Dec 06, 2001 5:20 pm

At MSP, go on the top deck of the parking ramps, especially Gold and Green. You don't need to buy a ticket to get up there, just pay for parking. Excellent views of the airport from up there, especially the C concourse where all the Mesaba and Express I planes park. But, in this day and age, it may not be the best idea to be running around on the top deck of those parking ramps overlooking the concourses. You will also see planes like 727's and DC9-10's on the C concourse as well, the widebodies park on the G concourse, on the other side. Or if you are really gung ho about getting pics of Airlink planes, Mesaba is hiring for MSP ramp agents right now (probably one of the few places in the aviation world that is hiring at the moment). That's where I work, I bring my camera to work on a regular basis.
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