Aircraft spotting and photo opportunities

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Aircraft spotting and photo opportunities

Joined: November 23rd, 2004, 12:24 pm

July 11th, 2012, 8:58 am #1

I posted this over on the"Lounge" a couple of days ago,I musthave written in invisible ink,as silence was the only reply ( lol)
Hoping for a bit more ( ie "any") input here.

Im planning a trip to Jacksonville this summer. Can anyone give me a good place to watch the air ops?
Most of my spotting is done around Lakenheath and Mildenhall in UK,I was hoping there would be similar good observation/photo spots.

Any input appreciated.


Its a fool that looks at the sun and points at the moon.
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Joined: November 18th, 2011, 11:35 pm

July 11th, 2012, 12:10 pm #2

A title such as that would elicit more response...any way, yes, good for spotting.

The main runway is 10/28 with the approach end of 10 butting right up to Rt.17/ Roosevelt Rd. (Google map it an have a look). Right next to there is a large shopping center (Target, etc.) and a big parking lot. You can set up right there and shoot away.

What you're likley to see most right now is lots of P-3 activity, some of the new P-8s perhaps and maybe a few of ATACs aggressor A-4s, F-21s or Hawker Hunters.

Since "Plane Spotting" is not so as popular in the States as in Europe and with everyone thinking "terrorists" are all over the place you may expect to get approached by the police after some knucklehead calls the cops but there's nothing illegal about taking pictures of planes from a public space. I recall taxing to the hold short in a P-3 over at Mildenhall once and the TACCO was freaking out at the people taking pictures from the hillside of our plane...it was a "special" version. I explained to him that "spotting" was a bit of a hobby over there and to expect to see pics in the Brit airplane mags next month! He was thinking the CO was gonna have his arse. Sure enough, next month we were in the mags, callsign and all!
Last edited by Whitey on July 11th, 2012, 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Andrew White
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Joined: December 8th, 2004, 4:41 pm

July 11th, 2012, 1:06 pm #3

I posted this over on the"Lounge" a couple of days ago,I musthave written in invisible ink,as silence was the only reply ( lol)
Hoping for a bit more ( ie "any") input here.

Im planning a trip to Jacksonville this summer. Can anyone give me a good place to watch the air ops?
Most of my spotting is done around Lakenheath and Mildenhall in UK,I was hoping there would be similar good observation/photo spots.

Any input appreciated.


Its a fool that looks at the sun and points at the moon.
Navy and Coast Guard Sh-60s and HH-65s out of Mayport Naval Station make regular low level runs all day long up and down the beach. Set up on the beach at Hannah Park, just south of Mayport.

Florida Air National Guard F-15s are based at JIA and are flying all the time, I don't know where the best vantage point might be for you, but I witnessed a full afterburner, night time takeoff of 6 jets from a Delta 757 up close and personal that shook the whole plane.

While not what it used to be, in addition to the regulars, there is something intriguing flying over the beach every day - in the last month I've seen Ch-46s, Ch-47s, Ch-53Es, V-22s, a flight of A-10s, C-2s, E-2s, F-16s, F-18s, and of course the P-3s. C-130s and C-17s are also not unheard of. And then last year there was the B-24, but that was a different story...
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Joined: November 23rd, 2004, 12:24 pm

July 11th, 2012, 1:33 pm #4

Thanks gents ( John and Andrew)much appreciated.

Andrew,I know what you mean about the police and
their attitude to plane spotters. I was moved on (last May) in no uncertain manner from AMARC,taking photos outside the wire. The ANG guys at the airport were not happy to let me take photos of the panes on sticks.
Perhaps Ill just look and bask in the ambience.
Thanks again.


Its a fool that looks at the sun and points at the moon.
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Joined: December 4th, 2005, 10:12 pm

July 11th, 2012, 1:45 pm #5

A title such as that would elicit more response...any way, yes, good for spotting.

The main runway is 10/28 with the approach end of 10 butting right up to Rt.17/ Roosevelt Rd. (Google map it an have a look). Right next to there is a large shopping center (Target, etc.) and a big parking lot. You can set up right there and shoot away.

What you're likley to see most right now is lots of P-3 activity, some of the new P-8s perhaps and maybe a few of ATACs aggressor A-4s, F-21s or Hawker Hunters.

Since "Plane Spotting" is not so as popular in the States as in Europe and with everyone thinking "terrorists" are all over the place you may expect to get approached by the police after some knucklehead calls the cops but there's nothing illegal about taking pictures of planes from a public space. I recall taxing to the hold short in a P-3 over at Mildenhall once and the TACCO was freaking out at the people taking pictures from the hillside of our plane...it was a "special" version. I explained to him that "spotting" was a bit of a hobby over there and to expect to see pics in the Brit airplane mags next month! He was thinking the CO was gonna have his arse. Sure enough, next month we were in the mags, callsign and all!
As was said, some people over here freak out when they see a long lens and a guy standing around photographing military or civil planes. As was noted, some aircrew freak out. I have had aircrew freak out when they see me standing on the approach end and call in to the base to send LEO (law enforcement officers) out. One was in Dayton OH, a C-141C crew, the other at Grissom ARB in Indiana, a KC-135R crew. Yet, I go out to Nellis in Las Vegas and never have I had one issue (but they expect it out there too).

Couple of key things...

1. Be on public property. If you are on the side of a road by the base, don't stand on the fence side, stand on the opposite side. Usually the base claims their jurisdiction up to the road, including the shoulder. In the states, that is opposite for property owners. Roads generally have a "easement" right of way 10-15ft off of the shoulder where it is public, municipality land. The personal property then begins after that (which, if anyone is interested, is why so many people sit with no problems on the shoulder of Las Vegas Blvd up by the Speedway, outside Nellis AFB. it is not Speedway property). Sitting in a parking lot, as was suggested above, may be ok. But, technically it is not public property, it is owned by a person or corporation and they could ask you to leave, or call LEO's to come out and check you out.

2. Add some credibility to your story of being an enthusiast, hobbiest. When I have been approached by law enforcement or citizens, being a card carrying member of the International Society for Aviation Photography (ISAP -http://aviationphoto.org/) has calmed many fears. Technically, the ID card does not mean anything, it gives you no rights. But, again, when I have been stopped and show that, it simply adds to my comments that I am an enthusiast, it is a hobby etc. A business card with a web address to your photos is another good thing to carry.

3. It goes with out saying, but if a LEO does show, just be polite and comply, even if they are asking you to leave. It is probably not worth the fight. You can address the matter politely and even possibly at a later date with a letter to the local Police Chief or appropriate authorities. Yes, there are plenty of young, cocky LEO's that think they can push you around and in haste throw the "In the interest of National Security" phrase around. If you just ask for clarification on the ordinance, law etc and be polite, usually it can be resolved. In both cases, when I was stopped by the cops around the bases, I was allowed to keep my photos and keep shooting. One laughed and said the pilot thought I was shooting a laser or manpad aiming device at him. Once the cop found it was a lens and the pictures actually looked like good ones, he was more interested in my hobby and possibly getting a couple shots that causing problems for me. The other (in Dayton), I found out I was actually parked on an unfenced part of the base (it was a base MP). He ran a bunch a crap on me and then simply asked me to move and even pointed out where I could go. Politeness goes a long way.

Mark
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Joined: August 20th, 2005, 7:12 pm

July 11th, 2012, 6:38 pm #6

Mark, I live in las Vegas, and I agree with you about photographing aircraft flying from Nellis AFB, except I did mine a number of years ago before they put up the block wall fence around the base. I usually photographed either from just south of the main runways off of Cheyenne, or little north of the north gate (not the main gate entrance), where they allow access during Aviation Nation airshows.
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Joined: March 2nd, 2005, 3:52 pm

July 11th, 2012, 9:45 pm #7

A title such as that would elicit more response...any way, yes, good for spotting.

The main runway is 10/28 with the approach end of 10 butting right up to Rt.17/ Roosevelt Rd. (Google map it an have a look). Right next to there is a large shopping center (Target, etc.) and a big parking lot. You can set up right there and shoot away.

What you're likley to see most right now is lots of P-3 activity, some of the new P-8s perhaps and maybe a few of ATACs aggressor A-4s, F-21s or Hawker Hunters.

Since "Plane Spotting" is not so as popular in the States as in Europe and with everyone thinking "terrorists" are all over the place you may expect to get approached by the police after some knucklehead calls the cops but there's nothing illegal about taking pictures of planes from a public space. I recall taxing to the hold short in a P-3 over at Mildenhall once and the TACCO was freaking out at the people taking pictures from the hillside of our plane...it was a "special" version. I explained to him that "spotting" was a bit of a hobby over there and to expect to see pics in the Brit airplane mags next month! He was thinking the CO was gonna have his arse. Sure enough, next month we were in the mags, callsign and all!
First, no one in the US, other than spotters themselves, has any clue what the term "spotter" even means. Everybody and his brother in the UK is some kind of a spotter (planes, trains, busses, taxis, whatever), and even if they're not, they certainly know the term very well.

Second, as noted, post-9/11 the world is very different. You are assumed to be guilty of something if you're pointing a camera at an airplane (any airplane) if it's not at an air show. Be very careful where you are standing, and **immediately** comply with anything a law enforcement official tells you. These days they don't screw around.
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Joined: February 27th, 2005, 12:37 am

July 11th, 2012, 10:35 pm #8

Thanks gents ( John and Andrew)much appreciated.

Andrew,I know what you mean about the police and
their attitude to plane spotters. I was moved on (last May) in no uncertain manner from AMARC,taking photos outside the wire. The ANG guys at the airport were not happy to let me take photos of the panes on sticks.
Perhaps Ill just look and bask in the ambience.
Thanks again.


Its a fool that looks at the sun and points at the moon.
The St. Johns river borders the opposite end of the runway (from US-17), and you can sit out there and take pics of them coming and going. The helos also often hover and do practice pick-ups out in the river. It's also a much more "open" area (sky view-wise), allowing more unobstructed viewing. But, ya gotta have or rent a boat!
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Joined: March 21st, 2009, 1:23 am

July 12th, 2012, 4:06 am #9

I posted this over on the"Lounge" a couple of days ago,I musthave written in invisible ink,as silence was the only reply ( lol)
Hoping for a bit more ( ie "any") input here.

Im planning a trip to Jacksonville this summer. Can anyone give me a good place to watch the air ops?
Most of my spotting is done around Lakenheath and Mildenhall in UK,I was hoping there would be similar good observation/photo spots.

Any input appreciated.


Its a fool that looks at the sun and points at the moon.
Bring sun screen and bug spay. The skeeters have been bad this year
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Joined: October 25th, 2004, 1:51 pm

July 12th, 2012, 5:08 am #10

A title such as that would elicit more response...any way, yes, good for spotting.

The main runway is 10/28 with the approach end of 10 butting right up to Rt.17/ Roosevelt Rd. (Google map it an have a look). Right next to there is a large shopping center (Target, etc.) and a big parking lot. You can set up right there and shoot away.

What you're likley to see most right now is lots of P-3 activity, some of the new P-8s perhaps and maybe a few of ATACs aggressor A-4s, F-21s or Hawker Hunters.

Since "Plane Spotting" is not so as popular in the States as in Europe and with everyone thinking "terrorists" are all over the place you may expect to get approached by the police after some knucklehead calls the cops but there's nothing illegal about taking pictures of planes from a public space. I recall taxing to the hold short in a P-3 over at Mildenhall once and the TACCO was freaking out at the people taking pictures from the hillside of our plane...it was a "special" version. I explained to him that "spotting" was a bit of a hobby over there and to expect to see pics in the Brit airplane mags next month! He was thinking the CO was gonna have his arse. Sure enough, next month we were in the mags, callsign and all!
I usually go there 5-8 times a year. Good hobby shops there!



Brandon






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