| Point A: Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge North

Note: You will hear many spotters refer to this spot as “Howard Beach” even though that is not technically where it is. The name has just sort of stuck.
Views: Known for 31L departures. Distant view of 13R arrivals.

Directions: Get off of the Belt Parkway at Cross Bay Blvd and head south. Once over the first bridge there will be a parking lot to your RIGHT (trust us), turn into it. Make a u-turn in this parking lot and then exit the way you came in, this time going directly across to the street on the other side. You do this because you are not allowed to make a left from Cross Bay Blvd.

By public transportation, take the A train to Rockaway Blvd and then take the Q21, getting off at the first stop over the first bridge (hit the “ding” when on the bridge).

Security: NYPD and Park Police have visited fellow spotters in this area. As always, carry your ID.

Photography: You’ll need a 400mm lens here. The planes go from right to left, making a nice left bank all the way around you. Because of the big turn, you can technically get shots here at any point throughout the day. For mornings, position yourself so the any planes that turn too early don’t give you backlit shots.

Notes: Obey traffic laws, and be sure to clean up after yourself at this location. Respect those on the beach around you. Bring water, as this location gets especially hot.

Example photos from this location:

Photo Photo by Tom Turner
Photo by Tom Turner
Photo by Melanie Rose
Photo by Melanie Rose
Photo by Art Brett
Photo by Art Brett

| Point B: The Mounds in Brookville Park — Springfield Gardens

Views: Nice elevated view for Runway 22L arrivals.

Directions: Follow Rockaway Blvd. past the airport. Make a left at the first light, Brookville Blvd. Continue on Brookville to the next light (147 Avenue) and make another left onto it. Proceed to 230th Place. and make another left. Go to the end where there is a soccer field and school. On the left side of the soccer field you will see a mound of dirt about 10 feet high. Take up position on this mound.

For public transportation, take the E or J trains or the Long Island Railroad to Jamaica Center, then take the Q111/113 bus to 147th Ave and 230th St. Then walk down 230th Place to the soccer field across the street from the school. Please see the bus map link at the bottom of this page. Please note that he Q111 might not always go to the Mounds, so make sure to ask the driver if that bus goes down 147th Avenue before getting on the bus. In addition, there is also a Q113 Limited, which drops you off at the stop after the one you need, so even though it’s faster, it leaves you with a few more minutes of walking.

Security: No fellow spotters have encountered law enforcement here, however, it falls within NYPD jurisdiction. As always, carry your ID.

Photography: A 100-400mm lens is recommended here. Anything smaller will probably not give you a fully framed photo. The planes go left to right and offers you a decent side view. Zoom in on the planes once they pass for that engine/nose shot. The light is good in the afternoon until sunset.

Notes: Listen closely. In the warm weather, bring bug spray. Do not wear shorts or sandals. Check yourself for ticks regularly, and thoroughly after you leave. Coming across ticks is not a small possibility, but a probability. Do not stray off of the mound’s path into the shrubs, either. Also, although this is a spot that generally does not draw police, do not abuse it.

Traffic Advisory: Please consult the following map HERE (click) when entering and leaving the area. Not only are one-way signs often hidden form views, but not every intersection has stop signs. Please exercise caution at every intersection.

Example photos from this location:

Photo by Phil Derner Jr.
Photo by Phil Derner Jr.
Photo by Tom Turner
Photo by Tom Turner
Photo by Gordon Gebert
Photo by Gordon Gebert

| Point C: Rockaway Turnpike Parking Lots: Costco/Burger King and Bed Bath & Beyond/Panera

Views: Good for 31R arrivals.

Directions: Get off of the Belt Parkway at Rockaway Blvd and continue south until you pass the airport. You’ll see a three block stretch that has the mentioned locations on the right side. Their respective parking lots that offer slightly different views. The most common area is in the Burlington Coat Factory parking lot, which is on the south side of Bay/Peninsula Blvd. People will often park near the Panera Bread along the wooden fence and enjoy the wide open view from there.

By public transportation, take the E or J train or the Long Island Railroad to Jamaica Center, then take the Q113 bus to get to the appropriate parking lot on Rockaway Blvd. You can also get the Q113 by taking the A train or the LIRR to Far Rockaway; the Q113 goes across Bay Channel Drive.

Security: Nassau County Police regularly visit fellow spotters. As always, carry your ID.

Photography: Great for arrivals from afternoon until sunset. Each location offers a slightly different angle, but you face electric wire obstacles at each. (Editor’s Note: I think the Burger King is the best. You can sit in the shade and the angle allows a more ‘full frame’ shot)

Notes: Keep in mind these parking lots are NOT public park property. They belong to the businesses. If asked by an employee, you must leave. It is urged that you support their business by purchasing food at the establishment and eat it on your hood to show off your patronage. Also be sure to clean up after yourself!

Example photos from this location:

Photo by Phil Derner Jr.
Photo by Phil Derner Jr.
Photo by Brian Futterman
Photo by Brian Futterman
Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Eric Dunetz

| Point D: Bayswater Park

Views: Good coverage of arrivals and departures on runway 4 left and right, in addition to 31L arrivals. Runway 31R arrivals distant.

Directions: Take Rockaway Blvd. to Nassau Expressway (corner of Costco) the light by COSTCO. Turn right (southwest) at the light and go to the second light and make another right onto Burnside Avenue. Burnside Avenue will change to Sheridan Blvd shortly thereafter, so don’t be alarmed. Follow the road about 2 miles to a light on the corner of Mott Ave. Turn right (north) and follow all the way to the end. Park on the street and then walk through the gates to the park area.

Security: NYPD has visited fellow spotters here, and detained some as well. Be courteous and carry your ID.

Photography: You’ll need at least 300mm at this location. On a clear day, you have the skyline background for runway 4 activity until at or shortly after noon. For 13R departures or 31L arrivals, the light is good from late morning until sunset.

Notes: Bring bug spray in the summer months, as there are many mosquitoes. Don’t wear nice shoes or anything that you don’t mind getting dirty, since recent rains can make the walk muddy. There are fisherman here, so smile and wave. They like us and might give you fish!

Example photos from this location:

Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Art Brett
Photo by Art Brett
Photo by Art Brett
Photo by Art Brett

| Point E: Frank M. Charles Park

Views: Good for runway 31L departures and 13R arrivals anytime after mid-morning.

Directions: Get off of the Belt Parkway at Cross Bay Blvd and head south. Turn left at 157th Avenue and proceed to 96th St and make a right. Continue until the end of that street and the park is right there. Go into the park towards the tennis courts, and then beyond them to the water.

Security: Park Police have stopped spotters in the past. As always, carry your ID.

Photography: You’ll need at least 200mm for this location. 31L departures will only be good for the heavies when they depart straight out a little bit, as many aircraft make their initial left turn too soon and become backlit. You can get good belly shots and nice banking side-ons of the deps and some decent side shots for arrivals.

Notes: It’s a popular place for people and families to picnic and play sports, so you’ll get some suspicious eyes. Sport a smile so you don’t look suspicious. Also, this spot can draw quite a few mosquitoes in summer months, so bring bug spray.

Example photos from this location:

Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Brian Futterman
Photo by Brian Futterman

| Point F: North Woodmere Park

Views: Good for early morning 31R arrivals and 22L arrivals.

Directions: Take Rockaway Blvd south to Peninsula Blvd and turn left. Proceed to Branch Blvd and make another left. Continue until the end of it and you’ll turn onto Hungry Harbor Rd. Hang a left into the park. Park and walk to the walk near the small building in the northwest end of the parking lot.

Security: This is a public park that also draws a suspicious public. Hiding directly behind the small building might look suspicious. This park is in Nassau County jurisdiction. Be sure to carry your ID.

Photography: This is a spot that is good for early morning 31R arrivals. The sun crosses over pretty fast so you only have a couple of hours of light on your side after sunrise. You’ll need 400mm for these shots. Arrivals on 22L are also possible before the sun cross over in the early afternoon.

Notes: It gets nippy in the mornings. Wear extra NYCAviation.com shirts in layers.

Example photos from this location:

Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Phil Derner Jr.
Photo by Phil Derner Jr.

| Point G: Inwood Park

Views: Nice views of 31L arrivals, and some 13R departures.

Directions: Take Rockaway Blvd. to Nassau Expressway (corner of Costco) the light by COSTCO. Turn right (southwest) at the light and go to the second light and make another right onto Burnside Avenue. Burnside Avenue will change to Sheridan Blvd shortly thereafter. Proceed a short ways and turn right at Bayview Ave (you’ll see an Inwood Park sign before the intersection). Continue until the end of the road and enter the park’s parking lot. Turn right and park towards the east end of the lot. Walk northeast along the trail and go to the shoreline on the right side.

Security: Nassau County police have visited spotters at this location, and the park’s manager enjoy volleying threats. Obey the law and do not lower yourself to starting an altercation with park employees. Carry your ID and enjoy your hobby.

Photography: You’ll need at least 200mm for full framed shots. You almost don’t see the planes coming (from right to left) from out of the trees. This location is good for most of the day after mid-morning.

Notes: There are stop signs on Bayview Avenue that might not be very obvious to see, so drive cautiously when approaching intersections.

Example photos from this location:

Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Eric Dunetz
Photo by Eric Dunetz
Melanie Rose
Photo by Melanie Rose