Topic Author
Posts: 50
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2005 4:40 am

Spotting At JFK

Sun Aug 15, 2010 9:10 pm

Hello everyone

I'm making a trip to NYC in a week or so. I'm planning on one full day of spotting at JFK. I checked the excellent spotting instructions on NYCaviation, those are most helpful.
However, a couple of questions remain for you good people who might know about spotting there:

1. Safety. I'm not going to rent a car, so I'm relying on public transportation. On the site mentioned, there are instructions to all the locations by train/bus etc. But is it smart safety/otherwise? How about taking a taxi, would that be smarter?

2. The inevitable spotter-ping-pong. How much changing of runways is there typically? Let's assume the wind stays constant for a day.

3. Traffic. Coming from Europe, I don't really find the BA or LH aircraft that interesting, but would rather take photos of stuff from the Americas. Any smart moves along these lines? Which runways should I prefer for spotting?

4. Scanner. Is a radio-scanner allowed/frowned upon/prohibited?

I hope someone can help me with these questions and all help is much appreciated!

-mika B
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Posts: 2595
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 11:27 pm

RE: Spotting At JFK

Sun Aug 15, 2010 11:26 pm

Mika, I spot regularly at JFK, here are a few notes...

1 - Most of the spotting areas noted should be safe, I've not heard of anyone having problems (and a few of the NYCA regulars use public transportation to spot) but as always, stay alert to your surroundings.

2 - You may get a couple of runway changes over the course of a day, but if the winds don't shift, you will generally see one set of runways in use for a good portion of the day - they may use one set in the morning, then shift in the afternoon, and for a while, it seemed like when they were on 31L/R in the afternoon, they would always switch to 22L/R around 5pm, but I don't know if they have done that recently.

3 - If they are using one set of runways, most everything will come that way. So if they are landing 22L/R, you will see most of the European stuff come in on 22L (and The Mounds are the place to be to catch them!) The one catch can be if they are using 22 and 13 for arrivals at the same time. Again, most European flights will arrive on 22, but you may get some that get sent to 13.

4 - Scanners are completely legal to use, when we have a group of NYCA folks out spotting, there are usually at least one or two with a scanner.

Make sure you have ID with you, and don't be surprised if some "concerned citizen" calls the police, but be friendly and professional, and you shouldn't have any problems.

When do you plan to be at JFK? I have some days off coming up, maybe I can meet you.
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
Topic Author
Posts: 50
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2005 4:40 am

RE: Spotting At JFK

Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:11 am

Thanks moose135!
Very helpful notes! So I will probably stick with my plan to use public, or a combination of public/taxi to save some time where it's possible. Good news also that most of the traffic will come in more or less the same place.
I'm coming to town on Monday Aug 23 o/b FIN005 and leaving on Friday, again on Finnair. Spotting day will be retermined by the weather outlook, the day with the most sunshine forecast will get chosen.. Would be great to see some locals!

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