April 24, 2014

The Aircraft Viewing Areas of South Florida

FLL Aircraft Viewing Area

Ah, South Florida. Known for its beautiful beaches, nightclubs, retirement communities….and aircraft viewing areas? As it turns out, the three main airports on Florida’s east coast all boast aircraft viewing areas, an absolute heaven for plane spotters and anyone with an interest in aviation. Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and even little Palm Beach all have an official viewing area of some sort, providing views of the airports main runway.

One of the three spotting locations at FLL is dedicated to Ron Gardner, a prior Broward Country Aviation Dept. employee.

Fort Lauderdale boasts the most impressive viewing area of the three airports. Situated less than 1000 feet from the threshold of runway 10L, and mere feet from adjacent taxiways, this spotting location is right up close to the action. Fort Lauderdale gets some interesting international traffic, and you never know what you may spot there. One of the best features at Fort Lauderdale is a favorite of aviation enthusiasts. In the parking lot, the airport authority has set up a loudspeaker that plays air traffic control audio from the tower. No need for your own scanner or LiveATC.net here, the airport has got you covered. Although the location is close to the aircraft, the fence is a bit high. So, you’re either going to need some good balance on a parking block or a pickup truck bed to stand in in order to overcome this obstacle. At Miami, however, such a workaround isn’t necessary.

These spotters at MIA's "The Holes" location aren't quite sure what to look at. The passing Google street view car, or the airplane! (Credit: Google)

These spotters at MIA’s “The Holes” location aren’t quite sure what to look at. The passing Google street view car, or the airplane! (Credit: Google)

At the threshold of Miami‘s runway 12 sits a location referred to as “the holes.” Why the holes? Well, because the airport authority was nice enough to put holes in the fence so photographers can stick their camera lenses through to get a clean shot. See, although other airports offer close up viewing areas, photography through a chain link fence isn’t easy, and often times that perfect shot is ruined by a piece of fence. Although this location does not offer any other luxuries, such as the ATC loudspeaker at Fort Lauderdale, plane spotters absolutely love the holes in the fence. Back in New York, if you even approach the fence, a SWAT team is sent to your location. At Miami, however, feel free to use the holes in the fence to your advantage!

Have a picnic at the side of the runway at PBI, because you can

Have a picnic at the side of the runway at PBI, because you can

Lastly, we have West Palm Beach, the sleepy little airport to the north. While not much action goes on at PBI, there is an aircraft viewing area at the base of runway 32 with a great overview of the airport. Departures climb out just in front of you, and taxiing private aircraft are extremely close. In addition, the fence is somewhat low, meaning spotters are able to get unobstructed shots with relative ease.

We love to see such openness at airports, proving that airports do not need to pretend they are Area 51 when it comes to security. These viewing areas are often filled with entire families, watching the planes fly by, possibly inspiring the next generation of pilots. At Fort Lauderdale, you can even sign up for a complete airport tour, and find information on their three designated viewing locations.

About the Author

Jason Rabinowitz



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  • Lucio

    I ll try to get to Miami, get some photos