Monday, April 27, 2009

New York's John F Kennedy International 4/25-4/26

Well, unfortunately, the weekend is over and I sit back in West Palm Beach editing the pictures and reminding myself of all that I saw over the weekend - and what a great weekend it was.

The weekend started with the first flight of the day from PBI to JFK. The flight on the whole was great - just one flight attendant brought a bit of a downer to the flight - I won't go into details here but needless to say, jetBlue have heard about it already. I'm not one to normally complain, but, in this case I felt it was warranted. My friend Andy picked me up from the new T-5 at JFK - wow - what a nice terminal! I really like it! And - so the weekend game of runway hunting started. We started off at Bayswater Park and were there 5 minutes before the first runway change happened - and so off we head to the spotting location for runway 31R. There it was time to hook up with some more friends to enjoy the morning/afternoon.

We spent a good deal of time there - a lot of arrivals - some old - some new, before the obligatory runway change to 22L (22R was closed for repairs). Off to a location called the Mounds to catch the European arrivals - and - hopefully the A380. I will say that the minute I heard the callsign "Emirates 201 Super" and the landing instruction "VOR/DME runway 22L", I was - well, my friends will say- I get a little over-excited! And, she came in - right in front of us in perfect light.

After the runway change again to 13's, we headed back to Bayswater park to catch the international departures for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, it turned out that all the pictures were heat hazed - a pity - we got some lovely departures - A340's that crawled into the sky at such a low vertical rate, some that literally jumped off the runway and climbed straight out. Total variety! It was time for dinner after that - and - another great evening of conversation and editing and another great day was over.

Sunday morning was a glorious morning - and they were on the 31's from the start. We tried one new location that yielded some great shots - like the Air India B777-200LR arriving from Mumbai.

Once the light was off for that location, we headed off to the same spot as Saturday morning to get some more arrivals.

Then - of course, the runway change happened - and off we headed to the Mounds again for the European arrivals that yielded another A380 and a whole lot more of the same stuff as normal.

In no time, it was time to head back to the airport and catch my flight back to West Palm Beach - this time an awesome flight! We followed out the NWA Amsterdam flight (this picture is for the NWA captain that will soon start a few of these legs) and a busy international ramp taken on our departure.

The above are just some of the 40+ pics that I have edited for upload to jetPhotos - please check the link on my profile to see the rest when they are uploaded over the next couple of weeks.

It really was another fantastic weekend - to all the guys - Kenny, Moose, Tom, Joe, Nick, Adam, Sergio, Gordons (Jr and Sr) - it really was a great weekend again! Andy - of course- thanks for everything my friend!

For anyone considering a spotting trip to the New York area - go to - all of us are on there - ready to help anyone coming to town!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Not totally quiet this week

This is written as I sit at gate B2 at Palm Beach International awaiting the departure of jetBlue flight 830 to New York's JF Kennedy International for another spotting and shooting weekend in New York - it looks like a really good weekened weather-wise, so I'm hoping for some great shooting.

This week, 3 lunch times were spent at Ft Lauderdale International - two at the spotting location at the end of runway 9L and one at the Hibiscus parking garage. The lunchtime I'd spent at the parking garage started out as westerly operations using 27R at the arrival/departure runway - as soon as I got to the top of hte parking garage - of course - they did a runway swap and seeing as I was there, I thought I might ats well stay. This was of course, the more interesting of the 3 days - the other two were the usual departures/arrivals - no special schemes or anthing like that. However, Wednesday (the garage day) was more interesting. As I got onto the top of the parking garage, I could see an interesting Embraer E-190 parked at Sheltair - I've never seen a private E-190 before - as it turned out, it was one of the Embraer corporate jets - and departed while I was there which gave this nice shot.

While watching the rest of the arrivals/departures, I happened to turn around and see a C-130 Hercules on approach to runweay 9R. For anyone that knows Ft Lauderdale, 9R is usually for B-1900's, smaller corporate jets, propellor aircraft and things of that size. So to see a C-130 on approach was very interesting. I think he realized the size of the runway as he executed a go-around at about 500ft, circled and landed on 9L. Now - these C-130's are very rarely in private schemes - usually assicoated with the government somehow - this is registered to an obscure LLC based in Wilmington, DE

Finally, flying high above Ft Lauderdale that was was a sky writer - not too sure what type of plane was doing it - but - they left a great images in the sky at one point - I think this will become the new header picture for the blog soon!

Now it's almost time to board for NY - I'm hoping that Emirates has put the A380 on todaty - it's the last chance I'll get to see it - hopefully Quantas has put Wunala Dreaming (search for that one - it's a stunning scheme) on, and the rest of the spotting gods will be good to me as well!

I'll post more from NY when I get home on Sunday evening.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April 19....quiet week

It's really been a quiet week this week past. A couple of days have not even been worth going to Ft Lauderdale at lunchtime because of the weather - there has been a great deal of down weather - clouds - even rain.

One slightly brighter day was Friday. Finally, we were off the westerly ops - back to 9L (pretty much the whole week has been 27R - westerly operations) and so headed up for a quick lunchtime. On getting there, there was one other person with a Canon with a big lens and we struck up a conversation pretty quickly. It turned out to be Mark Taylor from Sydney Spotters group who was in town working in Miami and had taken some time to travel up to Ft Lauderdale. He showed off some of the great pictures from his trip to South America and the US (I think he was heading back to Sydney today on V Australia). It turned out to be a great lunch time talking about locations, cities, and just generally planes. The only real thing of interest was jetBlue's 100th A320 which was departing.

From talking to some people earlier in the week, I wish I'd been at FLL last weekend - there were Southwest special schemes, an Air Canada Star Alliance, Belgian Air Force A310 - a really busy weekend it seems.

This week, hopefully the weather will play along for some lunchtime trips and hopefully some nice sights. In the meantime, the countdown is also on for next weekends trip to New York (leaving on jetBlue 830 at 6am on Saturday morning - anyone with contacts get me a jumpseat trip??? *LOL*...just kidding!!). So far, the AccuWeather forecast looks ok for Saturday (I HAVE to get the Emirates A380 - it will be my last chance at JFK to get it) and not too good for Sunday - but it's a whole week ahead - hopefully it will change for the better!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

My Top 5 Favorites To Date

Having gotten a little more used to posting on here, I thought I would add my top 5 favorite pictures that I have taken to date of the 502 on with a little explanation as to why they are my favorites.

Taking advantage of 3 frequent flyer miles tickets, our family took a trip to Alaska - somewhere we wanted to explore and the pictures I have seen from Anchorage (PANC) have always been spectacular. At first on this trip, I thought I would never have a chance to shoot PANC as the weather was not friendly at all - a lot of cloud and rain, but as this was fall (September), I guess it was a little expected. However, on the Sunday morning of the weekend, there was some sun in the sky, so camera bag in hand, I headed up to one of the spotting locations for what turned out to be 2 hours of great activity. I shot a lot of stuff that I wouldn't normally see - Alaska (including the Disney and Boeing Dreamliner special schemes, Asia cargo, etc) but, this shot was probably one of the first I shot that morning. I didn't have a scanner with me and the first part of the runway was totally hidden, so all you hear is engines in reverse thrust and wonder what is it. A rain shower had just passed and the sun was out again and I hear 4 loud engines in reverse - pick up the camera and get ready to shoot. As this Cathay B744BCF appeared, I just started shooting. When I got home and started editing the shots from PANC, this one in particular took me right back to standing at that spot shooting the pictures. Full right rudder and heavy runway spray just made it my number 1 favorite shot.

One of my guilty pleasure of my hobby is that I get to take some trips just for shooting, and so far, they have always taken me to New York to shoot at La Guardia (KLGA) and John F. Kennedy (KJFK). As I noted in the first post when I opened this blog, I belong to a website in New York ( and have an amazing group of friends that I really enjoy shooting with. This shot was taken on my second trip to New York. I normally try to fly jetBlue direct from PBI into JFK (just a personal preference and I do enjoy jetBlue), but on this occasion, because of a little fare war, I flew Spirit into LGA. After an amazing weekend of shooting, I was on a Spirit A321 back to Ft Lauderdale. We took off from runway 13 at LGA and turned back over the field. As we came abreast of LGA, I just started shooting and loved this result to make it my 2nd favorite. This is also the only picture that I have sold as well which makes it also a little more special.

When I first moved to West Palm Beach, I had been shooting with a Minolta P&S and for a birthday, I received my Nikon DSLR that I shoot with now. Of course, the first thing to do when getting a new camera is to shoot! This was one of those timing things. Taken from the parking garage at PBI, I got 3 MD-80's in a row - one pushing off the stand, the second waiting for that spot and the third in reverse thrust on runway 9L. The timing of this made it my 3rd favorite.

On my last photography trip to New York, I had the most amazing experience - the ability to shoot right next to the runways and taxiways on the field. Having lived in South Africa for the majority of my life, I'm always looking out for SAA planes. This one, SA204 to Dakar and Johannesburg, was a late afternoon departure taxiing out to runway 4L for departure, and just the ability to shoot it right next to the taxiway was an amazing thrill. The light, plane and experience made this my 4th favorite.

And to the 5th favorite. This was taken on the same Alaska trip as my 1st favorite. From Palm Beach, to get to Anchorage, we flew Continental to Houston, and then Continental from Houston via Seattle to Anchorage. Flying into Seattle in the very late afternoon gave me this amazing shot of a sunset light drenched Mt Ranier over the wing of the B757-300. I just love the light and the mountain over the wing which put it as my 5th favorite.

Well, those of my fav 5 pictures - there is another trip to New York on 25/26 April (two weeks time), so maybe there will have to be a top 10 soon!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

FLL 4/9/2009

A cold front went through Florida this week - bringing some lovely cool weather (in the 70's) and after a couple of days of not being able to make it out to FLL, this stunning day I could not miss - noon temperature at 76 F and lovely bright light for digital photography. I will say that this, according to a colleague who shoots slides, it only time for digital - he has packed his camera away until September.

Flightaware was my friend today as well - scrolling through the due arrivals showed a Sun Country B737-700 on the board for arrival. This is a rare occurrence for FLL - SCX doesn't get in here too often. It was arriving from Atlantic City (guess it was a gamblers charter) and later went off to Chicago (KORD). I had also received an ACARS alert for the US Airways Pittsburgh Steelers scheme (N733UW) that had arrived and was due out back to DCA arround noon. As I have shot this at PBI (, I wasn't too worried when I drove over the bridge towards the viewing spot and saw it lining up on 9L.

The SCX B737 was great to catch - it is an ex Air Berlin (D-ABBV) and Air Astana (P4-CAS) jet - that hasn't been with SCX for too long. What makes it also a good catch is that it's a very long time since I have seen a -700 series in the US without winglets - the last one I remember is N271LV that went from Ford Motor Corporation to Southwest. I'm sure SCX will add the winglets to it soon, but it's nice to catch it without.

A couple of very nice biz-jets made for a nice day as well - I really love the color scheme of the Legacy - almost like Embraer's demonstration color scheme - and then the Challenger came from Montgomery AL - Colonial Bank.

It's a long weekend for me - no work Good Friday, so maybe over the weekend, weather permitting, I might go out and see what's happening at PBI.

Monday, April 6, 2009

FLL 4/6/2009 - Hot Day!

I should have known actually -winds out of the west, hot as heck - I knew FLL would be on westerly operations using 27R for main operations. But, it was worth the look. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, the one unusual operation that came in was in dark cloud conditions. I wish it had in good light as it was a private Embraer Legacy - N900EM - ECW Investments from Las Vegas - a very different color scheme - pictures that some lucky people have of it are here ( Add it to my wish list for next time. Apart from that, it was all the usual suspects for lunchtime operations - plain canyon blue Southwest, standard jetBlue. Tonight, a cold front will be coming through South Florida - hopefully that will make for some better conditions and not so much heat distortion.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Starting the new blog

After reading so many great blogs from people in the aviation industry, I decided it's time to document my amateur aviation photography. Hopefully through this, I'll be able to share spotting and photography trips, experiences and my ever growing collection of pictures on the internet at (shameless self plug:

While I'm based in South Florida (I know - duck - windy season will be here soon!), I do travel for photography trips when I can. My favorite place to visit is New York. I belong to a website that has an incredible group of followers ( and whenever I get to New York, there is always a good crowd of spotters. I have made some very good friends through that site and have learned a whole lot about about photography, editing, etc.

When I'm not travelling, I do all my spotting in South East Florida. I live very close to Palm Beach International Airport (KPBI) and my office is very close to Hollywood/Ft Lauderdale International Airport (KFLL). I also spend some time at Miami International (KMIA) when I can - it's a short drive. During the week, lunch times are quite often spent at the viewing area or on the parking garage of FLL looking for special schemes, interesting shots, etc. Over the weekend, I try to get to PBI whenever I can if there is something interesting - like this weekend, a Miami Air International B734 which was obviously on a charter routing. Flightaware is my friend! :)

So, in the future, I'll try and document my trips, visits, what there is. If any pilots happen to come across times when they've flown into the airports when I've been spotting and I might have a picture, I'm always glad to share! And if any of you are flying into one of my close by airports and would like a shot - let me know and I'll always try to get out there to capture the shot!

I'll also try to post some of the pictures here when I can.

Please come back and visit often! :)