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Thread: Trip to JFK / McGuire AFB / Dover AFB

  1. #16
    Senior Member megatop412's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Philadelphia(south Jersey, actually)
    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Holzinger View Post
    I almost did back in July or August of 2005. I was taking pictures (!) in a shopping center lot and they were using Runway 36 and someone did call somebody on me. Thankfully I left before someone stopped by to check me out. Like I said, the residents there have never seen plane spotters anywhere around the base and they will consider you suspicious. It's also a HUGE OPSEC issue there. There are flights that routine go in and out of the base that are on a need-to-know basis and these almost always involve airplanes that are not supposed to be photographed. That info came right out of a pilot I met that flies those aircraft.

    Phil is dead-on with his statement. There is so much security around the entire JB-MDL complex that makes the base almost like Whiteman AFB. It also has to do with the foiled terror attack (which actually happened within weeks of the 2008 airshow). Trust me - DO NOT GO ANYWHERE NEAR McGUIRE.

    As far as spotting at military bases in the United States, it varies between bases. For instance, you see that you will most likely be arrested at and around McGuire. Dover would be a little less strict, mainly because of the AMC Museum (which I recommend - I believe the KC-135 is now on display). Langley AFB is almost as strict as McGuire but so long as you don't take pictures of the base, you should be fine. NAS Oceana is not as strict - in fact, they almost welcome spotters - especially at the Oceana Blvd spot. Be careful and be smart and when we say don't go spotting at certain places, DON'T.

    (BTW, for the record, I live 25 miles away from McGuire)
    I live about 20 miles away from McGuire. So does that mean that I could have problems getting shots of aircraft with my 500mm lens from my balcony? Because I occasionally see KC-10's about 3-5k. This idea that pictures of planes cannot be taken when they're flying in the air is totally ridiculous. It is a preposterous assumption, given that my tax dollars PAID for that airframe. If the military doesn't want me doing this, then they need to relocate away from where people live. I'm sure Beale was tight as sh** back in the Blackbird days, but that's a pretty remote area. Or at least it was. If something is "top secret", then keep it in the desert for God's sake not have it descending next to the Northeast Corridor.

    Look, I'm not trying to be a dick about it. Steve and Phil I believe the both of you and I'm not a person to stir up trouble, so I have no plans to go out there to prove a point. But I never want to "just accept it" as the way things are, because that's always the first step in the line towards giving up our hard-won constitutional rights. It may not be as vital as the free speech precept, but the last time I checked, there was a phrase in our Constitution called "the pursuit of happiness".

  2. #17
    Thanks guys for all the replies.. we really appreciate it.

    It's a shame the authorities are so hard against the spotters, especially for a guy like me who work in an airport and is very close to the aircraft every day.

    It sounds great with the tower at Dover, just a shame that we are there before it opens.

    I guess the plan for now could be:

    Stay the first day in NY and do some spotting around JFK. Next morning, we will pick our rented car and drive to washington.
    Spend some time in Washington before the Airshow, we will probably visit the Air / Space Museum, and if time permits it, catch some Airshow arrivals on thursday.

  3. #18
    Moderator USAF Pilot 07's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    I don't think anyone is arguing that you can't take pictures of airborne aircraft. McGuire AFB is in between two of the most populated and busiest metropolitan areas in the Northeast, and while I'm sure in an ideal world the AF would love for there to be no photographing of any assets, I wouldn't say they are trying to hide anything from anyone at the base.

    That being said, you have to realize, the community around McGuire has no idea of who planespotters are, and after a foiled terrorist attack a few years ago that was very close to being carried out, no one is going to take chances with anything that looks suspicious. While you'd be well within your legal rights to take pictures outside of the base on public land, keep in mind there aren't very many good spotting locations, and the one that is decent for RWY36 arrivals is a shopping center parking lot, which I assume is private property. Therefore, it would be well within the owner's right to ask you to leave if they felt you were loitering. There is also a NJ State Trooper barracks located not too far from the base, the local police station is right down the road and there are many military police that frequently travel down that road. Therefore, the odds of you being seen shortly after setting up shop, and at least stopped and questioned is pretty high.

    On a related note, the foiled attack was almost carried out by employees who worked at a local pizza place. Since then, a lot of local business have worked hard to regain the trust and confidence of the base to be able to conduct business with them. Therefore, I don't think you'll find too many who will come to your defense if you are on their property and the police ask you to leave.

    All that being said, with the exception of the KC10 , there aren't many other aircraft worth spending a day sitting around waiting to shoot, which is why most people are saying it's not worth the trip down there.

    Hope this helps!

  4. #19
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    My Two Cents..

    Good luck on your stay here in the states guys, count me amongst the many from here would be happy to show you around. I too will also be at Andrews (or so is the plan)... Just wanted to point out a couple of things..

    1. Make sure with the Air and Space Museum in DC you take a ride out to the New annex at Dulles. It is well worth the ride and admission is free, although you do have to pay to park. I would even say that the annex is a better stop than the original, especially if you are also into commercial aviation-- which you are.

    2. Although to some that live in the area LGA doesnt have a great deal of appeal, I think its worth a stop. Especially since you have seen much of what you will see at Kennedy on your side of the pond. You have likely never seen a Frontier A320 or an SWA B737 or even a Us Airways Express SF340 or DH8 at LHR or AMS (wouldnt THAT be a sight!) So, I would think you should definitely make some time for LGA.

    Plus, you will have a large volume of aircraft using a single runway to land, so you get a steady stream. Yes, we have all seen so many DL A319s and US A320s and CRJs, we may not even bother to pull out the camera sometimes, but the Runway 4 or 31 approaches or Runway 4 departures will be an impressive site-- especially for buffs who havent seen it before. I would strongly suggest check the weather and flightaware or ATIS on that day and try to make it out. I do not think you will regret it. Maybe LGA in the morning, then stop at the Queens Museum for the Panorama, then JFK in the afternoon.

    All my best.. Chris

    PS... if I am going out to LGA the day you guys are going, Id be happy to meet up, just send me a private message or email.
    Be The Change You Want to See in the World

  5. #20
    Senior Member Gerard's Avatar
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    Apr 2007
    Long Island
    Quote Originally Posted by steve1840 View Post
    As for the AFBs, I can not offer up any advice on those. Although, if you're going to be in the NYC area, I have been tols that Stewart AFB in Newburgh offers good chances to see C-5s.
    Back in the 90s I used to visit Stewart when I stayed the weekend at my mom-in-laws house in western Ct. About an hour drive on I-84. Like any military base its pretty much hit or miss
    to see something flying. There were many times I got to see C-5s taking off and doing touch and goes. Others times nothing. There is a road adjacent to the runways that gives you
    great views of the runway the C-5s use and I've never been hassled there. Many people park there. I was stopped by the Military Police once when I was taking pics of a few medevac Hueys that had landed. This was on the other side of the airport by Richmor Aviation. We had a nice talk, I explained my hobby, he was going to take my film, he radioed in to
    his superiors and in the end he let me go. I had my two sons with me (they were toddlers) so maybe that helped in letting me go.

  6. #21
    Senior Member Steven Holzinger's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Marlton, New Jersey
    When I'm at Flying W and I see McGuire traffic, I always point my camera at it! So in that case, go for it. We could always use more photos of military jets over New Jersey.

    I'd follow what USAF Pilot 07 states with regarding spotting at McGuire. He is spot on with the second paragraph he wrote. There is one other spot for McGuire traffic but I ask security at that spot about once a year whether or not we can photograph the planes from there and I've always gotten a no. That even included times where I would have been on "official business." There is one FANTASTIC spot that I've driven past once that used to be open to the public but it is now off limits because of a gate.

    For now, we'll have to settle with the altitude they fly over megatop's place. It's a shame I don't see any McGuire traffic flying over where I live...

  7. #22
    Senior Member chrisparypa's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Brooklyn, NY & Ocean City, MD
    All that topic forced me to take that trip :P I had nothing to do few days ago and decided to check the museum and teh base traffic

    Few pictures from the trip, like you can notice not much is going on around Dover AFB, I had EG B747 taxing very close from the fence and that was the only "cool" moment of the visit. I like the museum, everything in very good condition, nice people around however I couldn't find anyone to fly simulators, oh well maybe next time I don;t live to far from base can take one more trip any day :)

    Dover AFB is making little plans for Air Show next year, thats what the Museum Manager said, and is all about the Jet team in 2012 ... if they get it they have it if not they not... there is little chance for BA and little bigger chance for T-birds so maybe maybe :) There was no air shows at Dover after 2009 I think cuz of the constracion going on around the runways and taxiways

    The quality is not perfect, air was very weird, lots of heat haze unfortunately

  8. #23
    Senior Member gonzalu's Avatar
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    May 2009
    The Bronx, New York
    Nice set of pictures Chris. Is that your little one at the controls? :-)
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  9. #24
    Thanks for the current report Chris from Dover AFB and the museum :).
    We will visit the museum on our trip from NY to DC.

  10. #25
    Senior Member chrisparypa's Avatar
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    Sep 2009
    Brooklyn, NY & Ocean City, MD
    Quote Originally Posted by gonzalu View Post
    Nice set of pictures Chris. Is that your little one at the controls? :-)

    Sorry for the little OT :) My daughter is always part of my aviation adventures :) before every air show she is so excited about the Blue Angels and so disappointed if instead of Blue Angels, T-birds performing :P
    Oh yee my daughter is a big aviation enthusiast :)))

    To finish the OT.... Dover museum is vary cool, not much traffic, spotting from the museum property is OK. I think after the season I will try to be there at least couple times a month. About an hour drive from where Im staying in Maryland.
    Last edited by chrisparypa; 04-06-2011 at 03:22 PM.

  11. #26
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Nice set Chris. I will definitely have to make my way down to the museum this summer.
    Steve Furst

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