| Spot A: South 188th Street

Views: This spot is arguably one of SeaTac’s best. Since all three runways abut the road there are multiple locations along the road from which to shoot. It is best for the runway 34 arrivals, but can be workable for departures off the 16′s. If you bring a ladder, you can frame runway 34R arrivals with Mt. Rainier in the background. Arrivals tend to come in on runways 34L and 34R, with a handful coming in on runway 34C when things get busy. Departures are almost exclusively on runway 34C.

Directions: You can access this location from the 509 or the 99 by turning onto 188th. Park along the street at 16th Ave S and then walking to your favored location is advisable. Do not park along 188th Street itself.

Security: Spotters have been questioned here, but no one has been asked to leave. Do NOT stand in the ditch on the side of the road: suspicious drivers who don’t know better have reported spotters “hiding in the ditch”. Always carry ID.

Photography: This spot can range heavily in shot type and style. Consequently, everything from wide angles to high zoom can be used, though a 70-200mm would be best suited for most shots. Depending on how you orient yourself, this road can provide good shooting all day except for runway 34R arrivals, which will be backlit until the afternoon. Traffic is across the board. Heavies will favor runway 34R, but have also been seen on runway 34C as well.

Notes: 188th Street is a busy road with fast moving traffic, be very careful crossing the road.

Some photos shot from this location:


Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

| Spot B: SeaTac Parking Lot

Views: This spot is best for departures on either runway, and is a “plane in blue sky” style shot.

Directions: Follow directions from I5 or from 99 to the airport, and follow the signs for hourly parking, or take the Seattle bus system to the airport.

Security: Friendly in general.  It doesn’t hurt to go into the terminal and find an officer to ask about being up there.  No one has ever said no, and they will usually inform other officers of your presence up there.  Always be friendly and bring ID.

Photography: This spot is best with a larger lens as you are a bit of a distance from the action.  200mm or more is recommended.

Notes: N/A

Some photos shot from this location:


Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

| Spot C: Water Tower

Views: “Plane in blue sky” shots abound of runway 16 arrivals.  Runway 34 departures are possible but will be high by the time they pass you.

Directions: The tower is located off of S 146th St, to the north of the airport.  Coming from I5, follow the directions to the airport and then take the exit for 99N, and then bear left to the S 154th St.  Turn left and follow 154th St across the highway and then turn right onto 24th Avenue.  Follow 24th Avenue until you pass the tower and turn onto 146th Street.

Security: Do not block the gate to the tower.  Police patrol regularly and will make you move your car.  It is also a park, so there will usually be parking available.

Photography: Runway 16L is the closest to you, and tight shots abound.  70-200mm would likely do best.  Runway 16C is a bit further away, and requires 150-300mm to pull them in close.  Runway 16R is quite a distance, and requires 300+, not to mention some nasty heat haze to deal with even on a cool day.  This spot is best from sunrise until about noon.  The full gamut of aircraft from biz jets to MD-11’s can pass by on any of the three runways.

Notes: N/A

Some photos shot from this location:


Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

| Spot D: Baseball Field

Views: “Plane in blue sky” shots, and a lot of dodging of trees, power lines, and other obstacles.  It is pretty much only good for runway 16C arrivals.

Directions: From I5, follow the signs to the airport, and then pass by it continuing on 518.  Take the exit for Des Moines Memorial Drive, and turn right at the end of the ramp.  Turn right onto S 144th St, and then take the first right onto 16th Ave S.  Continue to the end of the road where the park will be obvious.

Security: No known problems, but they do pass by on occasion. Always carry your ID.

Photography: 50-200mm is best here.  It is best from the afternoon and beyond.  Everything from 747’s to EMB120’s can pass by here.

Notes: It is a baseball field that can often get busy on weekends or after the 9-5 shifts on the weekdays with little league games.  Be friendly, and be ready for some suspicious looks. Also, never swing at the first pitch.

Some photos shot from this location:


Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

| Spot E: 11th Avenue

Views: This spot is again another “plane in blue sky” location, but it is fantastic for departures off the 34’s and arrivals on the 16’s.

Directions: From I5, follow the signs to the airport, and then pass by it continuing on 518.  Take the exit for Des Moines Memorial Drive, and turn right at the end of the ramp.  Turn left onto S 144th St, and bear left to stay with it.  Take the first left near the top of the hill and park along 11th.

Security: No known run-ins.  Carry ID and be friendly if approached.

Photography: Runway 16R passes literally right overhead, and you’ll need a fairly wide angle to get them – in the neighborhood of 24-100mm depending on what you’re looking for.  Runways 16/34C is the most common application of this spot and requires a 200+ lens to shoot well.  This spot is best from about 2pm and gets better through the day.

Notes: This is an abandoned neighborhood that has largely been demolished.  11th Ave is not very busy, but 144th Street receives a good deal of fairly fast moving traffic.  There is a school and a field across the way.  DO NOT go to the school yard or fields during school hours.

Some photos shot from this location:


Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

Photo by Jeremy Lindgren

Photo by Jeremy Lindgren