On the edge of Los Angeles International Airport, just at the end of the north runways, is an amazing spot for watching airplanes land. Officially called "spotting," it's a hobby shared by enthusiasts around the world. Some, like me, just bring a camera while the more dedicated keep a log of the various airlines and types of aircraft they see. For all of us, it's a fantastic way to spend a day, and there are few better places than this street corner to indulge in my love of commercial aviation.
Spotting locations aren't as accessible in San Francisco, where I've lived most of my adult life. The only way I was able to capture this Lufthansa Boeing 747 landing at SFO, was because I was touring the airport's new Runway Safety Areas while on assignment for CNET.
Since flights to San Francisco International approach the airport over the bay, you can't get directly under the landing pattern. Coyote Point Park just south of the airport gets you close, but not quite there. This Air New Zealand is arriving from Auckland.
San Francisco is better for shooting departures. A great spot is the end of West Area Road, which is next to the rental car lot. This JAL Boeing 787 is off to Tokyo. The aircraft's unmistakable silhouette is lit by the setting sun.
London's Heathrow has one of the most famous airport spotting locations on Earth. Walk about 15 minutes from the Hatton Cross Underground to reach Myrtle Ave. At the end of the suburban street is a small park usually filled with spotters watching planes land on the airport's busy south runway. Like this British Airways 747, they pass low overhead and come every few seconds.
One of the great things about working for CNET is that they've indulged my passion from time to time. For example, I got to cover the first flight of the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental near Seattle on March 20, 2011.