user47
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Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:56 am

Spotting In St. Louis

Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:34 am

Hi all! Taking a trip to St. Louis this weekend, looking for advice on good planepotting, um, spots.

It appears that the last good spotting thread on this airport was pre-9/11. I know a lot has changed since then and STL has undergone a lot of construction and expansion over the past few years.

Any tips, hints, or special spots you'd care to share?

Thanks in advance!
Have I mentioned I love planes? :-)
 
user47
Topic Author
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:56 am

RE: Spotting In St. Louis

Wed Sep 01, 2010 3:14 am

I don't generally ask for airport permission but it appears STL has had a sketchy past with spotters. To error on the safe side I sent the following email.. I'll be sure to follow up with the response, if I get one.

Hello,

I will be in St. Louis shortly and wanted to inquire about your planespotter policy. Planespotters as you may know are aviation enthusiasts, many enjoy taking photos of commercial aircraft arriving from all over the world. Planespotters seem to get widely different levels of reception by various airports. Some airports invite enthusiasts, suggest viewing areas and even offer tips or special permission letters to prospective spotters. Unfortunately, not all airports are as inviting. Some, unfortunately are even hostile towards planespotters.

I understand that in a post 9/11 era security and safety of passengers is a primary concern. Aircraft photography to some may appear suspicious although I’ve never quite understood what harm an individual with a camera could do on public property.

In any event, I am contacting you prior to my visit in good faith to determine what your planespotter policy is, if you have any “safe” spots reserved for individuals who enjoy watching planes come and go or what other information you are willing to share as it relates to your airport’s policy.
Thanks for your time; I look forward to your response.
Have I mentioned I love planes? :-)
 
markevans
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:19 pm

RE: Spotting In St. Louis

Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:14 pm

I was in St Louis back in 2003 so not sure how useful this will be to you now but there was some good spots at the end of the runways. From what I remember the airport is not so good so I would plan on renting a car. If the perimeter hasnt changed to much you will get some excellent photo's. I had no issues with police and doubt they would move you on. In my experience they just want to check out who you are and then leave you alone.
 
TWAMD-80
Posts: 962
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2001 8:25 am

RE: Spotting In St. Louis

Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:37 pm

Sadly in my experience over the last couple of years, STL has gone from having an official viewing area and being friendly to spotters to being completely hostile. On a flight I was operating into STL, my father came out to take a couple of photos of me departing (he was in the cell phone lot). About 30 seconds after he shot photos of my aircraft, the airport police came racing in. They inquired what he was doing and while they said taking photos wasn't illegal, the officer asked "how would your son like it if you were pointing a camera at his aircraft"? I had to laugh, I actually would be thrilled! The airport authority claimed they were going to open a new official viewing area, but so far I haven't seen any action taken. I think your best bet would be to contact the airport authority or airport police and inquire with them.

As far as places to watch, the cell phone lot offers ok views of aircraft taxiing by when they land on 11/29. The best views of low flying aircraft are by the ends of the runway. There is a service road that runs along 30R that offers great views, but I wouldn't linger as the airport police are especially sensitive about that location. Good luck and I hope you get good news from the airport officials!

Edit:
1000th Post

[Edited 2010-09-02 08:40:51]
Two A-4's, left ten o'clock level continue left turn!
 
user47
Topic Author
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:56 am

RE: Spotting In St. Louis

Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:31 pm

Mark and TWAMD-80: Thanks for your responses, and congrats to TWAMD-80 on your 1,000th post. I think this will be my 4th... Ha-ha.

Still no response to my email so I called airport security who referred me to the director's office who referred me to their media and public relations manager. He was not available so I left a message. With any luck I'll be able to confirm one way or the other what their official stance (or lack thereof) is. Either way, getting an airport official to comment should help clarify what they view acceptable on airport premises versus not and can potentially fend off overzealous security folks.
Have I mentioned I love planes? :-)
 
chris33
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 3:32 am

RE: Spotting In St. Louis

Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:34 am

Hi all, I am French (I apologize for the language) but I live in Southern Illinois. I was in STL on 08/29/10 in where I believe is a very good place to spot airplanes. I had the same feeling about the hostility of the authorities and the difficulty to find a good place for photography, but I think that this one is fine. If you drive pass the Southwest terminal going towards the Cargo area (Air Cargo Rd) you will have the possibility to get round the runway (on JameS Mc Donnell Bvd). As you arrive on the other side you'll notice on the right, hills you can easily "climb" on for a wonderful view on the whole airport (before the FedEx area). Behind the hill is like a park area where you can easily and safely park your car (Hamon Ln). You can seat down on top of this hills so that nobody can see you. Also, last time, as I was seating on a camp chair I was visible from Hamon Ln. During the afternoon I have seen 2 police cars driving there (they surely saw me as well), and none of them came to bother me.
All the best.
 
TWAMD-80
Posts: 962
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2001 8:25 am

RE: Spotting In St. Louis

Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:33 am

Thanks user for the congrats! It only took me 8 years to get there   Chris has a good idea about the hill that is along 30R. It offers a commanding view of that side of the airport. I haven't done much in the way of spotting there, but if I did, I'd try to avoid police attention. I am eager to hear the airport authority's response to your inquiry.
Two A-4's, left ten o'clock level continue left turn!
 
user47
Topic Author
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:56 am

RE: Spotting In St. Louis

Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:25 pm

Hi all,

Thanks for your tips and insight. I wanted to follow-up with you all on the results of my spotting trip.

First thing first.. I was able to get in contact with Jeff Lea, Public Information Manager for Lambert-St. Louis airport. He confirmed that the airport doesn't have any official policy with regard to planespotters.

Second, the view from my room at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel was so good that I never had to leave. I spent thirteen hours spotting planes in air conditioned luxury. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. I had hoped for a decent view but never expected that it could have been as good as it was.

Finally, I wanted to share a site I stumbled upon in my hunt for the best spotting locations. http://www.spotterswiki.com is a creative commons wiki founded and managed by a couple in California. This site is exactly what I was looking for, I sure hope it takes off. Yesterday I made updates to the STL page to include further detail on the Renaissance as well as my chat with the public information manager. Further details can be found here: http://www.spotterswiki.com/index.ph...s_International_Airport_(STL/KSTL)

Thanks again!

[Edited 2010-09-05 15:27:14]
Have I mentioned I love planes? :-)
 
AnonymousInSAN
Posts: 76
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2007 10:36 am

RE: Spotting In St. Louis

Mon Sep 06, 2010 12:05 am

Quoting user47 (Reply 7):
the view from my room at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel was so good that I never had to leave

I'm going to visit STL next spring (possibly this fall) and am interested in more Renaissance Hotel details. Were you shooting through glass and what floor/room would be the best to request?

The Hamon Lane park area sounds great too. I'm going to check it out on Google Earth.

Thanks!
 
user47
Topic Author
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 2:56 am

RE: Spotting In St. Louis

Mon Sep 06, 2010 4:05 am

Quoting anonymousinsan (Reply 8):
Were you shooting through glass and what floor/room would be the best to request?

I was on the tenth of twelve floors, the eleventh floor houses concierge and the twelfth floor is home to the penthouse ballroom so the numbering scheme on those levels isn't the same as with the lower levels. Because of that I can't really recommend any of the upper level rooms by number. Here's a link to the photo tour of the property. I should point out that all photos are of the south side of the building but you will want a north facing room. http://www.marriott.com/hotels/photo...aCode=stlsa&pageID=HWHOM&imageID=0

The windows have a one-way reflective tint but it didn't noticeably discolor or otherwise take away from the view. Below are links to three photos I shot from my room. I only cropped, resized and added a watermark. No adjustments to color, contract, saturation, etc.

Best of luck to you, I hope to hear back.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/user47/4962781060/lightbox/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/user47/4957873341/lightbox/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/user47/...953020641/in/photostream/lightbox/
Have I mentioned I love planes? :-)
 
TWAMD-80
Posts: 962
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2001 8:25 am

RE: Spotting In St. Louis

Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:48 am

I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed your visit! There used to be a great spot, known as the 94th Aero Squadron. It was right along the 30R touchdown zone. Every Friday they used to have a great happy hour - if you bought a drink you would get free barbeque. Their outdoor patio had a clear view of aircraft landing on 30R. Unfortunately the airport tore down the restaurant around 2004.
Two A-4's, left ten o'clock level continue left turn!

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