Topic Author
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:44 pm

Newbie BHX Spotter Needs Advice

Sat Jul 24, 2010 10:22 pm

Hi All,

I'm a newbie here so please be gentle.

I'm planning a trip to BHX within the coming week, and would appreciate advice from veteren BHX spotters.
From my information gathering, Sheldon Park and the Long Stay Carpark are the best places for photography, is this correct? Up-to-date information is greatly appreciated.

This will be my first spotting trip, and as I don't drive, I'll be arriving at any spotting location by train and the two things attached to the bottom of my legs. My initial thoughts are, to take the train to Marston Green Station (where there is also photo opportunities from the bridge over the station, so I've read), and walk through to Sheldon Park.

Also, is there an easy way to get to the Long Stay Carpark from inside the terminal, or from the train station, bearing in mind I don't drive.

I have a Sony Alpha 200 DSLR, with a 80-200mm lens which I hope will be enough to get some good pictures, although as it will be my first trip, I'll treat it as more of a 'recce' so I know where to go for future reference, rather than a photography extravaganza.

Also, is there a quick and easy way of knowing which runway is in use (15 or 33) at any given moment, as this will obviously restrict certain types of photography depending on which spotting location you're at, at the time.

Any and all information prvided is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Posts: 4769
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:30 am

RE: Newbie BHX Spotter Needs Advice

Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:18 am

Hi Carl,

I'm actually more of a MAN regular but living in Stoke I also get down the BHX frequently.

Firstly, BHX's runway (33/15) basically runs from SSE to NNW so it's always useful to check the wind direction on the BBC weather site or similar ( is good also). Once you've established runway use, there are several good photography spots, all of which can be reached by either train or walking...

1. Long-stay car-park

Exit the terminals and head right until you get to the car-park entrance, then walk all the way to the bottom, beyond the fuel silos. Here you will find a great view of the taxiway for 33. A small set of steps is useful but not essential as there are a few holes in the fence. This spot is literally 10 minutes from the terminals and is good from sunrise until around mid-day.
Example image:

2. Embankment by Total garage

Continue past the long-stay and follow the footpath to the A45 dual carriageway. Continue along the carriageway (on the right side) until you come to an embankment more-or-less opposite the Total garage. A good spot early morning for arrivals on 33.

3. Field off A45

Cross the A45 from the footpath and walk past the Clock Inn and Total garage (left side). Just after you've walked under the approach there's a metal gate leading to a field off to the right. The back of the field is good for 33 approach shots in the afternoon/evening.

4. TriStar Hotel

On the same side as the embankment but 10 minutes further up. Just beyond the hotel is a rough field with entry via holes in the hedge. Line-ups on 33 can be had here but a relatively tall ladder is required - otherwise heavies departing 15 can be photographed in the climb-out. This spot good in the afternoon/evening.

5. Marston Green train station and Sheldon Country Park

The railway bridge at the station is good early morning for taxiing and rolling aircraft using 15. When the sun moves round later, head into the park and follow the western perimeter for some good spots. A few of them require a ladder. There are many decent spots in the park so finding somewhere to suit won't be hard.

Additonally there are a few reasonable spots around the Elmdon area but without transport getting there will be difficult.

There's no reason your first visit to BHX should be a 'recon' mission - there are enough easily-accessible spots to make a first visit very successful.

Posts: 799
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:44 pm

RE: Newbie BHX Spotter Needs Advice

Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:28 am

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 1):
1. Long-stay car-park

Carl (alphaman), this is my usual spot, as I drive to BHX. It will be obvious where to go from the terminal. As Karl said, turn right and just follow the fence from the terminal until you are as close to the threshold of 33 as it is possible to get. It is quite likely there will be a few other enthusiasts there. There is a shuttle bus from the terminal that goes around the car park and stops quite close to this spot. I don't know if it is free, quite possibly, and it will save your legs, especially on the way back.

I used to travel by train to the airport as a lad in the summer and the trip was fairly straightforward. Arrive at BHX, take MAGLEV to the terminal (now replaced by a more conventional system), walk from the terminal to the outside viewing area (now gone).

This is a good spot for the mornings mainly. The sun is in a bad position for the afternoon. Your lens should be fine for landing shots and shots of aircraft waiting entry to the runway at this spot, though a shorter focal length than 80mm might be useful for some of the bigger aircraft if you want to get a side-on view - or move further back!

It's no LHR or MAN, but it's reasonably busy these days with a range of airlines and types flowing in and out. Highlights, at least for me, are the Continental, Emirates and Mahan Air flights.

Best regards,

Erm, is this thing on?
Topic Author
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:44 pm

RE: Newbie BHX Spotter Needs Advice

Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:11 pm

Karl and Jim, thanks for your concise and informative replies. I'll head out there and see what happens!
Topic Author
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:44 pm

RE: Newbie BHX Spotter Needs Advice

Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:19 pm

Just to update, I did head out to BHX on Monday, even though the weather was not the best. Caught some interesting aircraft, and best of all I know where to go now when the weather is better!

A couple of my shots: photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Carl D. Hudson photo:
Click here for bigger photo!
Photo © Carl D. Hudson

Thanks once again to Karl and Jim.

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