If you want to take shots of taxiing and departures from 27L the best time is in the morning provided it is the week for morning departures and prevailing winds warrant it's use. Afternoon departures from 27L are backlit. To get there exit Hatton Cross Station and walk along the innermost perimetre road were single lane traffic travels in both directions. Head towards T4
. Just before arriving at the tall concrete jet blast barrier and well left of runway 27L you can shoot up against the fence. You will need a small box or milk crate to stand on to get above the metal sheet that runs along the middle of the fence (designed to block vehicle drivers view) or you can shoot below, so long as the grass has been cut!
Your best bet is to take your shots then move across to the other side of the road to wait for the next aircraft you want to shoot, to keep the police at bay, although I haven't had any problems, with the Olympics around the corner this may change. Heat haze wont be such an issue with aircraft taxiing out of T4
, but definitely a problem for aircraft lining up from the other side of 27L.
If you want shots of aircraft airborne from 27L then the ESSO petrol station is the place to go. Just go to T5
by tube, then exit left out of T5
, you will pass a bike rake on your left, walk along the foot path keeping runway 9R
on your left side when you come to a round about turn left, cross the road and follow the footpath the ESSO station will be off in the distance it is a good 20 minute walk. There is a grassy area just beyond where you can take your shots between large gaps in the lamp posts.
If you want dramatic departure shots and 27R is in use then after 5pm, I highly recommend you walk out of T5
follow the red path illustrated in legoguys aerial view of T5
, but instead of crossing the bridge keep walking along the footpath ahead until you get next to the Thistle Hotel carpark. There on the grass you can shoot dramatic takeoffs of Heavy Metal, but only after 5pm when the sun will illuminate the side of the aircraft facing you and when the sun is lower it will illuminate the belly. Narrowbodies are still good, especially well lit belly shots, but they will be much higher of course.
Hope this helps.