I promised that when I left I wouldn't be back, but anyway, I have been receiving a lot of messages about the shots I recently uploaded here, so I thought I'd come back briefly to answer all the questions at once.
I've been asked a lot about this 'secret' place I know, so here are all the details.
As many of the pictures were rejected (I'm not here to complain about it) and some are still in the queue, here they are so you know what I'm talking about. Click to enlarge - each one opens in a new window. Some may be quite big, up to 800 KB, sorry.
The place I took them from is shown here:
Aircraft only come over when they are flying a "Compton 4 Kilo" or "Compton 5 Juliet" standard departure (SID), as illustrated on that map. The red dot is the position I'm talking about.
It's only useful when Heathrow is using runways 09R or L, and when you have a nice clear blue sky. I guess it only works on about 20 days per year, normally those weather conditions happen when there is a fresh high pressure system in the North Sea area.
Even when the conditions are right, very few of the departures fly a Compton SID.
That basically limits the possibilities to transatlantic wide-bodies, which is why you don't see a big variation of types and airlines. Normally it's just British Airways, Air India, Virgin, Air Canada, etc.. but very few United and AA (I don't understand why, maybe just wrong time of the day). I was surprised to see the Thai and Saudi 747s/777s!
The few narrow-bodies flying Compton SIDs tend to do a sharper turn so are closer to the overhead position as they come past. You don't get the 'top' view but some good shots are still possible, such as:
I use a Canon EOS 10D and EF100-400L lens. That's probably the smallest lens size you could get away with. At 400mm, 747s fill the frame, but if you have a longer focal length you might even get some nice pictures of aircraft flying other SIDs, such as the A310 below. It was a bit far away for the 400mm to cope with.
The best time to go there is between about 1pm and 6pm.
If you look here: http://www.heavens-above.com/sun.asp?lat=51.449&lng=-0.410&alt=26&loc=Feltham&TZ=GMT
...at this time of year the sun sets at about 270 degrees. If you compare that to the SID chart above, at any time later than about 5:30pm the aircraft will be heading too close into the sun and you wont get very good lighting.
That site (Heavens Above) is also good for looking up the moon position if you want to be very serious and 'calculate' a Garfinkel-style shot
The actual location is exactly where the tip of the arrow is pointing:
Or you can get the full interactive map with this link: http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?G2M?X=510467&Y=173478&A=Y&Z=1
To get there: From Feltham station, on the side that trains go away from London, walk across the bus stops (this is where you take the bus to LHR), and to the other side of the road.
There is an entrance to a narrow alley that has some overgrown hedges on either side. Follow the path for about 50 metres. It goes along beside a small river, then you will come to the entrance to the field. You can see the path on the map as the dotted line beside the blue line.
It's very secluded and hardly anyone knows about it, so no worries about being bothered or moved on.
You can sit there for most of the day and only get 20-25 picture opportunities, but in my humble opinion, it's better than getting 300+ 'perfect' landing shots, just like every other photographer has.