hkg82
Topic Author
Posts: 1310
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2002 4:24 pm

Plane spotting in London

Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:58 pm

Hi all,

I will be travelling to London on March 24 and staying until the 30th of the same month, and plan to do some plane photography while I'm there. It will be my first time spotting London, and while I've been reading the various spotting guides available on the internet, I do have a few questions.

Firstly, based on what I've read, unless you have a car or know the locals spotting at Gatwick, Stansted and Luton is out of the question. Therefore, I plan to spot at Heathrow and London City Airport. I will be staying at the Hilton Garden Inn (at Hatton Cross) so I will be in close priximity to Heathrow.

Regarding LHR:

1). Are all of the spots, especially those situated around the perimeter of the airport (e.g. Myrtle Avenue, various perimeter roads, etc.) generally safe? Do airport police frequently make visits?

2). I've been reading the two guides below, can I just confirm they are generally up-to-date? Are there any other online guides recommended?

http://www.spotterguide.net/index.php/p ... -lhr-egll/

http://www.plane-mad.com/airport-spotti ... -egll.html

3). Are 27s commonly used in March? Myrtle Avenue looks like it's the best out of all the spots but it's only suitable for 27L.

4). What are the best days to get the intra-Europe traffic?

Regarding London City:

1). With reference to the below guide, the river spot by the Royal Albert Station seems to be preferred one for me. Is this also a safe spot and will you be approached by authorities?

http://www.plane-mad.com/airport-spotti ... -eglc.html

2). Is my understanding correct that weekdays are the busiest in terms of traffic at LCY?

It seems like the mode of transport I'll be using to commute to the various spots at LHR will be by public bus, and so does anyone know if the bus stops are all located nearby the hotel?

Any feedback would be most helpful.

Thank you.
 
petertenthije
Posts: 3345
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2001 10:00 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Sun Mar 12, 2017 4:46 pm

With regard to LCY, the Royal Albert spot faces the sun, so this place might not be ideal.

There is a large car park east of the terminal that overlooks the runway. It has good views, but it is private (airport owned) property. Over the years I have been here often without hassle, but the last time (September 2016) I was sent away. I am not sure if this is a new policy, or if this was a temporary measure because the week before protesters breached security and entered the runway.

An alternative would be to go spotting outside the jet centre from the public road. I was approached by both JC employees and police, but since it is public property there is not much they can do. Just be sensible and avoid making photos of infrastructure and airport / JC staff.

LCY is closed saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.


Gatwick can be done without car provided runway 26 is used for landings. It's a brief walk from the terminal to the final approach. Runway 08 can be walked, but it is a loooong walk. Expect 40 minutes minimum. You could try your luck with the shuttle service to parking lot "purple", but they might also refuse you if you dont have a car parked there. A few years ago i had no problem taking the bus to Purple, but was refused entry by a rather rude driver the way back.
Attamottamotta!
 
JakTrax
Posts: 4679
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:30 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:33 pm

Heathrow is pretty easy for those on foot as there are a number of regular free busses that traverse the airfield perimeter. 27 is the preferred operation and the wind typically favours this most of the time, however with the UK's weather you never really know!

I personally don't like Myrtle Avenue much as they are a little high from there for my liking, but it is only a few minutes' walk from Hatton Cross tube station and is popular with visitors. It's perfectly safe but like anywhere else just exercise a bit of common sense. There are better spots but they require 5-tread steps minimum, so unless you're willing to find a local DIY shop and pay out £35 for a set, you're pretty limited.
 
G-CIVP
Posts: 1514
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 6:38 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:14 pm

1). Are all of the spots, especially those situated around the perimeter of the airport (e.g. Myrtle Avenue, various perimeter roads, etc.) generally safe?
Yes but LHR Security don't like anyone standing near the perimeter fence. Myrtle Avenue and the area around it is safe; if you don't trouble the locals, they won't trouble you.

2). I've been reading the two guides below, can I just confirm they are generally up-to-date? Are there any other online guides recommended?
I would say stick to Myrtle Avenue or Bedfont Football Club for 27L arrivals and the 'Huts' for 27R arrivals. For 09L arrivals if they are on Easterlies, stick to the embankment near T5. I wouldn't bother with 09R departure photos from Feltham as more effort is required to get there and you will only be able to photograph approximately 1 in 3 departures.

3). Are 27s commonly used in March? Myrtle Avenue looks like it's the best out of all the spots but it's only suitable for 27L.
Yes. Unless there wind speed from the East is over a certain number of knots (I think about greater than 10 knots), they won't switch as Westerly ops are preferred.

4). What are the best days to get the intra-Europe traffic?
LHR is much the same most days and easily over 60% to 70% of the movements are BA but Monday is popular as you get Ethiopian A350 arrival during the day rather than before 7.00am.

Now the bad news. The sun is getting higher towards the end of March, so you are catching tail end of the best light before grey bottom season but as JakTrax notes, you can't predict the weather.
 
AlexC
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:13 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:59 pm

This winter light thing at Heathrow is all very well, but I've been waiting ever since about November for a sunny Sunday (only day I can make it) and no luck up to now such is the weather in this country.
 
hkg82
Topic Author
Posts: 1310
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2002 4:24 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:49 am

Thanks everyone for your responses. It's looking like there'll be some easterly winds during my stay so 09s are very likely. A few questions about 09L arrivals:

1). Understood the grass embankment by T5 is one of the spots for 09L photos, but I have also been told it's very exposed with no shelter and also very difficult to get to (i.e. crossing difficult roads, etc.). Is it really worth it, compared to other spots outlined below?

2). I also understand that T5 departure level is another possible spot for 09L levels, but again I was told you may be askerd to vacate by security?

3). I've been advised that there's another spot for 09L arrivals on the 4th floor of T5 located at the short-term car park (right next to the AVIS car park spaces). It's sheltered although you will be shooting through a fence, but I've been told it should not be a problem as there are holes you can shoot through. Grateful if I could get feedback on this spot if anyone's been here.

For 27s, I've pretty much figured out where Myrtle Avenue is (for 27L) is and the where the huts spot is on Eastern Perimeter Road for 27R via Google Map, as they're all within walking distance from my hotel.

Thanks again!
 
G-CIVP
Posts: 1514
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 6:38 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:44 am

I think you've got to try the spots recommended and see for yourself. As an aside, please don't damage any airport or car park fences (as I'm hearing on the grapevine damage is occurring). We have a difficult enough time around LHR without getting up the nose of the airport authorities.
 
hkg82
Topic Author
Posts: 1310
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2002 4:24 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:33 am

No worries, I always air on the conservative side when taking plane photos outside of my hometown and will always be careful.

Thanks again to everyone for their input.
 
G-CIVP
Posts: 1514
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 6:38 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:49 pm

The embankment is probably best for 09L arrivals as the from the departure level you can only get three quarter shots of the larger stuff rather than full side on as the motorway signage gets in the way. With the Avis spot, you are shooting through the fence and this takes some while to perfect! Given you have limited time, you should go for the embankment.

An embankment photo:
But if you fancy a bus ride, I would be tempted by some Feltham Bankers but the sun is getting high.
,


I may be around next week, drop me a personal email and I might even say 'hello'.
 
hkg82
Topic Author
Posts: 1310
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2002 4:24 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:02 am

Hi there, I just sent you a PM as that seems to be the only other way I can contact you. Cheers.
 
JKPhotos
Posts: 757
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:03 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:40 am

Hi,

funny enough I will be in London next Weekend, too. It Looks like easterly operations will be in place
Generally I am tempted to do some Feltham Bankers. But I "only" have 300mm but on a aps-c sensor Canon. Would it still be worthy to go there to catch the big ones (honestly I am not into quantity if I end up with 2 decent 380s and a 747 I'll be fine)?
Apart from the light being of course not so good anymore as in wintertime, would heat haze be an issue?

Thanks for a short info.

Cheers,
Julien
 
G-CIVP
Posts: 1514
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 6:38 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Mon Mar 20, 2017 11:57 pm

At the time of writing, it is looking like Westerly on Saturday and Easterly on Sunday but check the day before. A 300mm lens can be used but depending on the quality, it may be slightly soft at the top end. The issue isn't going to be heat haze but grey bottoms as the sun is getting higher. The other issue, pollution!
 
JKPhotos
Posts: 757
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:03 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:10 am

Thank you very much for your response. Well assuming to german weather forecast there will be some significant wind on the Weekend, that's why I hope to have relatively clear air. Otherwise I am using a 70-300L and one of the reasons why I bought it is that it is sharp at the top end.

Another question: How can I reach Felton Parc? Or better said which bus can I take from Hatton Cross?
I know a fellow planespotter that walked form Hatton Cross, but I am not doing a planespotting trip (otherwise yes I would have come a few weeks earlier as well), so I don't want to spend too much time at the airport overall.
 
AlexC
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:13 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:40 am

You should be able to walk to Feltham Park from Hatton Cross tube station. Down Fagg's Road, then on down Harlington Road West from where you will come to Feltham Park on your right.
 
G-CIVP
Posts: 1514
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 6:38 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:24 pm

Simple way if you don't fancy a long walk. Get the 285 bus to Feltham Station from Hatton Cross or Heathrow Central and walk back to Feltham Park. You may require an Oystercard for this. Failing this, Uber!
 
JKPhotos
Posts: 757
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:03 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:59 pm

Thanks a lot G-CIVP. I will try it.
 
AlexC
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:13 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:44 pm

Depends on what you call 'a long walk'!
 
JKPhotos
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Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:03 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Wed Mar 22, 2017 8:56 am

AlexC wrote:
Depends on what you call 'a long walk'!


How long would it be to walk then?

Someone told me it is about 25 mins.
 
AlexC
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:13 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:39 am

Yes I'd say that 25 minutes is about right.
 
JKPhotos
Posts: 757
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:03 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:49 am

Thanks for that, Alex. I'll Keep that in mind, the way seems to be rather easy.
 
G-CIVP
Posts: 1514
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 6:38 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Wed Mar 22, 2017 3:21 pm

Note, due to the ongoing Security Incident in Central London, you may not be tolerated in the traditional spotting locations around Heathrow (with the exception of Feltham Park) this weekend.
 
JKPhotos
Posts: 757
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:03 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:03 pm

I am again shocked by this incident...

That leaving aside I am undecided yet wether I just make a short stop at Feltham and let everything else be, but on the other side the worst that could happen on any airport spot would be to be send away. Still thanks for pointing that out.
 
AlexC
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:13 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:32 am

Sadly we have to live with these incidents. Thankfully, thanks to the very good work of the police and security forces they only happen rarely.
 
hkg82
Topic Author
Posts: 1310
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2002 4:24 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Thu Mar 23, 2017 2:58 pm

I'm very sad to hear about the Westminster incident...

I think spotting can be pretty much ruled out for me. The T5 departure level/car park spots will be filled with police and getting to the embankment without arousing suspicion will be impossible (it's 100% going to be 09 in the coming days).

I assume, if it's 27s, that Myrtle Avenue will still be ok? It's by far the most well-known spot in all of the UK if not Europe.
 
JKPhotos
Posts: 757
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:03 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Thu Mar 23, 2017 5:25 pm

Well it is not like that you would be doing anything illegal.
Again the worst that could happen would be that they send you away, it still Great Britain.
I would refrain as well from hanging around close to the fence or from those spots that you mentioned, but going to the ebankment would seem okay to me. You get there mostly via a normal sidewalk, nothing wrong with that and they've seen spotters before.

27's are very unlikely for the weekend as you said,the wind will be significant, but otherwise I would say myrtly would be fine, it is far enough away from the fence.
But wind is supposed to Change on tuesday, so that might be an Option for next week (assuming that you have time).
 
G-CIVP
Posts: 1514
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 6:38 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Thu Mar 23, 2017 7:21 pm

The best thing is to give it a go. Good luck.
 
RedSnapper
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Re: Plane spotting in London

Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:51 pm

I was at the T5 departures level and embankment today for a short time with no problems. It was very much business as usual.

However the young guy standing on the motorway crash barrier to take photos wasn't doing anyone any favours!!!
 
G-CIVP
Posts: 1514
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 6:38 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:01 pm

RedSnapper - Thanks for the update. As for standing on the Motorway Crash Barrier, this is what drops us in it!
 
hkg82
Topic Author
Posts: 1310
Joined: Fri Apr 05, 2002 4:24 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Sun Mar 26, 2017 6:12 pm

Just completed about two days worth of LHR spotting with some very good weather yesterday (03/25) and today (03/26). I was at the T5 departure level spot and another grass embankment located by the taxi rank next to T5, all with no issues. There were tons of spotters out yesterday, less so today.

Gonna take a break from the spotting for the remainder of my trip unless weather remains good or if there's a special movement, however I might spend an afternoon taking photos at LCY by the river next to Royal Albert Station on a day when it's cloudy so as to avoid shooting into the sun.
 
G-CIVP
Posts: 1514
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 6:38 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:17 am

hkg82 - I'm pleased you've had a good time. I admire your common sense in breaking up the trip, otherwise it would be a waste to come all this way without having a look around. I look forward to seeing the output from your two days at LHR in due course.
 
JKPhotos
Posts: 757
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:03 pm

Re: Plane spotting in London

Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:43 am

Hi everybody,

we did have a very pleasing stay with absolutely great weather at Feltham Parc on Saturday so a big thanks to everybody who gave me these precious Information.. It was so pleasing to sit around at the parc that we even stayed longer than planned and it was a particular pleasure having met Alex there (by conicidence).
It is absolutley right that 300mm on a crop camera are enough for most widebodies and I am pretty satisfied with my shots, so again I am glad that I've asked here and that I didn't listen to those that told me you shouldn't bother with less than 400mm (I doubt some of them were even ever there).
Before my flight back I shortly rushed outside the T5 to shoot some arrivals form the departure level. Lampposts are indeed a bit tricky there, but I still managed some good shots there, also I only had 20 minutes. I met a local there who was there since a few hours and he told me as well that police was a non-factor there.
Slightly off-Topic but we where both surprised that even in the City (and we spend way more time there than at the Airport - I can only echo G-CIVP it would really be as waste to only hang around at the Airport and miss this great City) you weren't seen more policemen than usual at least far less than in Paris for example. Still I think that's a very calm and considerate reaction.

Cheers, Julien
 
G-CIVP
Posts: 1514
Joined: Tue Mar 20, 2001 6:38 am

Re: Plane spotting in London

Wed Mar 29, 2017 1:50 pm

Julien - I must have missed you in Feltham Park on Saturday but I was only out for a few hours. Pleased you enjoyed your trip to LHR and London.

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