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Spotting At OAK

Tue Jun 15, 2004 4:28 am

I'm flying into SFO 6/29, and gonna be in the bay area for two weeks. My uncle is thinking of taking me spotting at OAK which is only about 15 minutes from his house in Hayward. Where are the good spotting areas at OAK if its even worth it. My uncle tells me I can go to El Torrito's (sp?) in San Leandro to watch traffic, would that be at SFO or OAK....any ideas are appreciated in advance

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RE: Spotting At OAK

Tue Jun 15, 2004 5:01 am could go golfing at one of the two public courses RIGHT off the airport...You'll get to see planes the entire time you play, that is if your into golf.  Big grin

Un-fortunatly, the runway at OAK normally used for comercial traffic is off out on the bay, literally. However, if your lucky, you'll see comercial traffic using 27R/L. But it's rare. There really aren't many good spotting places at OAK, which is why you don't see many good pictures from people on from spotting locations. It's just not a spotter friendly airport. The golf courses are really the best places I've found, other than when my dad and I fly into OAK ourselves in the 182.
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RE: Spotting At OAK

Tue Jun 15, 2004 5:38 am

Depends what you mean by "spotting". The 8th-floor lounge, just below the control tower above the passenger terminal, is likely the best view you can get at any US airport, but you might not like it for pics. I haven't been up there in years-- dunno when it's open, if ever.
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RE: Spotting At OAK

Tue Jun 15, 2004 6:25 am

There is a marina at the South end of the runway that you can take pictures at (San Leandro). I've never been there in the 18 years of living in Alameda, but it's pretty clear as you land.
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RE: Spotting At OAK

Tue Jun 15, 2004 6:44 am

If you're looking for close-ups, good luck! Even the terminal is not conducive to spotting. Hayward Airport (HWD) has views of aircraft approaching runway 29. However, these aircraft are still relatively high (gear is down). Basically, OAK sucks for spotting!
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RE: Spotting At OAK

Tue Jun 15, 2004 8:27 am

El Torrito restaurant it near SFO.
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RE: Spotting At OAK

Tue Jun 15, 2004 9:59 am

The lounge in the tower is not open anymore to the public, unless it has been reopened recently. But, yes, that was a great place to watch both airliners and the huge fedex and ups cargo operation.
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RE: Spotting At OAK

Tue Jun 15, 2004 11:51 am

During the 80's and 90's, I took a lot of pictures from the Tower Lounge at OAK.
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RE: Spotting At OAK

Tue Jun 15, 2004 12:05 pm

If the El Torrito is in San Leandro that would be OAK. As far as the Tower Lounge if it is open its on the wrong side of security. Can't get there without a boarding pass.
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RE: Spotting At OAK

Tue Jun 15, 2004 12:10 pm

There is also an El Torrito at the San Leandro Marina.
Like most people have said, OAK is not a great spotting airport. The main runway is out over the bay, and you can't get with in a few thousand feet from the airplanes.
There is a park that is north of the Marina, which puts you as close to the airport as you're going to get. If you have a high powered Telephoto lens, you can get decent pictures there, and a decent look at landing planes. I believe the park is called Oyster Bay.
OAK has a major disadvantage for spotting. It is basically ALL 737's, most of which are either brown and yellow, or blue and yellow (some airline from Texas). The only heavies you will see are Fed Ex MD11's.
SFO is a much better spotting airport. Not only is there more variety, but a lot more heavy traffic. And I don't care that Oakland has more movements than SFO, SFO seems a lot busier.
There is a park fairly close to SFO, about at the Westin Hotel. From there you have a good look at departing flights from 1R, and can still watch planes land on the 28s.
If you head out to the very end of Oyster Point in Burlingame, you can have planes fly directly over your head, about 1000 ft above you. Close enough to get a feel for the size, but nothing shocking.
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RE: Spotting At OAK

Tue Jun 15, 2004 6:31 pm

The Tower Lounge in OAK is still closed. I haven't heard of any future plans for it.

The entrance to it is on the public side of security. As you're going up the ramp towards security, you can still see the (unlit) neon sign directing you to the elevator on the right before you get to Giant Burger.
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RE: Spotting At OAK

Wed Jun 16, 2004 1:20 am

And you might as well try the area north/west of the runway 29 departure end. A public road comes within 600-700 meters of it, which is close enough to get departure shots with maybe a 200 mm lens.
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RE: Spotting At OAK

Wed Jun 16, 2004 1:28 am

Some of the bay-area spotters put this page together and it has some great infor about spotting at the three bay area airports. Oakland info here:

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