View Full Version : Spotting in Philly

2006-03-06, 09:11 PM
Hey guys! Phil and I are taking a trip to Philly (my hometown :)) in a couple weekends, and I've heard/read mixed things about spotting conditions at PHL. Phil has told me a little, and I know about Hog Island Road (15+ years ago, my dad actually used to take me there so we could lay on top of the car to watch the arrivals). I was curious about anyone's personal experiences as far as police....and whether there were any alternate spots that are worth our while. We aren't making a day out of spotting, but it would be nice if we had any tips for the time we are there.


2006-03-06, 09:40 PM
I haven't heard any bad things at all. What bad stuff were you referring to?

Iberia A340-600
2006-03-06, 09:41 PM
There was a thread a couple of days ago regarding spotting at PHL. Heres the link:

http://www.airliners.net/discussions/ge ... in/2626752 (http://www.airliners.net/discussions/general_aviation/read.main/2626752)

I have been spotting at PHL once. I wish I could recall how it was but all I can remember is parking next to a fence and watching a US Airways A330-300 landing.

Hope this helps!

2006-03-06, 09:54 PM
I have been down there once. Its 50-50.
On my personal experience I didn't have any problems but a cop did follow me around the airport until I we to the terminal area though.
They don't want you hanging around certain spots close to the fence area. I have been told if you dot have there you will be left alone for the most part.
One guy was detained for a while. I have heard both bad and god stories. So just use your head thats all.

Rafal was there not too long ago he the best guy to ask about his recent trek (up there) for him.


2006-03-06, 10:14 PM
I haven't heard any bad things at all. What bad stuff were you referring to?

Just i.e....read the comments underneath everything in this link: http://www.jetphotos.net/airports/airport.php?icao=KPHL

I know its just a couple, and it seems hit or miss, but that's why I posted the thread to begin with! ;)

2006-03-06, 10:31 PM
Sounds like they feel the same way I do about PHL.
Thge good thing about PHL is that its very shotable so you should have plenty of places to get pix.
I went there in 2002 and got everything I needed in 20 mins so I went back home.

2006-03-06, 10:35 PM
I went there in 2002 and got everyhting I needed in 20 mins so I went back home.

Well hopefully that's how it goes for us, too! We have a seriously tight schedule to attempt to stick to that day.

I'd love to shoot (or at least just see) a UPS 747 and a (unburned :() DC-8 as well...and I read that those usually come in the morning, which is when we're aiming to be there.

2006-03-06, 10:36 PM
Hey Phil, Mell

I was spotting at PHL week before JFK. Arrived (by car) around 6:30am at Hog Island Avenue and left from there around 5:30pm. I didn't have any problems at all. You have to follow few simple rules to be ok.
First of all, don't park on the fenced side of the street. Always park on the opposite side (thats the best spot anyway). Don't speed on that street. Don't walk across the street to take pictures thru the fence (you can do it if nobody is around, just take the pic and go back to your car).
I'm doing PHL at least once every two months so I know little about it :)
There are some bitchy cops, if one approches you and tell you to get the hell out of there - get his name and phone number to his Sergant. It happened to me twice. I've called Sergant and he said that I can go back and continue to take pictures. He will tell you that he will contact that officer who harrased you.

If they are landing on runways 27L/R the best spot is 200 yards East from the Sunoco fuel farm/storage. Drive slowly until you find your desired spot.
For departures from runway 27L you have to drive past UPS facility, and UPS second (West) employees parking lot. When you see fire training fuselages and small fire training center then you are right on the spot. Park in that gravel parking lot and stay in your car. Don't roam around, if you stay in your car you'll be fine. Of course for pictures you have my permission to get out ;) But seriously, I always stay in my car and when I see aircraft departing I leave from my car, take the shot and go back. Few times Police cruisers passed me while I was taking pictures in that gravel lot and they didn't even stoped. But be careful you never know what kind of cop you will get.

For arrivals from runway 09R you have to park on the Western side of the Hog Island Avenue. There are NO PARKING signs all over the place, but we park there anyway and stay in the car. The worst thing that can happend is that cop will order you to leave from that spot. (We were never removed from that spot, even when cops saw us seating in the car).
For departures from runway 09L you can position yourself 10 yards away from the entrance to Sunoco fuel farm/storage.

Word of advice - when you park on the side of the street pull as far as possible. Those UPS 18-wheelers are driving recklesly, so be careful.

Light at PHL is great from early in the morning until late afternoon (5-6pm). When you see local spotter Paul K. say hallo to him from me :)

Have fun, and enjoy your trip :)

2006-03-06, 10:38 PM
Correction - week before JFK I did CLT :) I was at PHL on February 18th :)
In about 1 hour I will post couple of pictures from the spots that I just described.


2006-03-06, 10:41 PM
Awesome! Thanks so much for all that info! Can't wait for your pics...I would love to see Philly shots. I keep my pride, even when Phil disses my hometown. ;)

2006-03-06, 10:58 PM
Nobody disses Philly....it's my hometown too afterall! :D

-Omar S. :)

Steven Holzinger
2006-03-06, 11:30 PM

2006-03-06, 11:44 PM
Ok here are the pictures:
09R Arrival - picture take from across the street (from the rail road)
Unedited picture of arrival on runway 09R

Picture of departure from runway 09L = taken from the sunoco entrance

Picture of departure from runway 27L taken from the gravel parking lot

Arrival on runway 27R taken from the spot East of the Sunoco entrance. I took this picture while searching for the best spot. I had to drive up the street 100 yards for perfect spot.

Two arrivals on runway 27R :)

Picture taken thru the fence - it was taken in summer so its hazy, but now you should be ok.

I just saw that you want to get UPS B747 or DC-8. I don't want to dissapoint you but your chances of getting one of them are slim to none on weekend. Saturday or Sunday you will get from UPS only B767-300, 757-200, MD-11 aaaaannnnd if you are veeeeeery lucky you might get one DC-8. BUT :) There is always BUT. All UPS airplanes arrive very early in the morning. Last arrival is around 10am and its B767-300. To get good cargo stuff you have to be there at least from 7-7:30am.

Good luck!


2006-03-06, 11:59 PM
Rafal....Thanks so much for sharing those with us! I especially love the 727 shot!

We plan to be there as early as possible....trying to leave Queens as early as we can wake up. Hopefully that means getting to the airport no later than 8am or so, and getting some novel, or at least cool shots.

Steven Holzinger
2006-03-07, 12:26 PM
The one time I went to PHL to get an An-124 arriving, he came in at 7:30 am!

2006-03-07, 12:57 PM
Keep your eyes out for the NASA Super Guppy! This is one I really want to get.


Matt Molnar
2006-03-07, 02:11 PM
Don't forget the cheesesteaks.

2006-03-07, 03:43 PM
mel - can u and phil get some wn shots =) plzzzz

2006-03-07, 04:09 PM
Surely. There's plenty there to get. :)

2006-03-07, 06:21 PM
Maybe you can get in touch with the guys who run this site:


They post photo/spotter logs almost daily, so maybe Phil can garner a spotter/photographer relationship with these guys?

2006-03-07, 10:14 PM
Hey Mel,

lemme know when you guys decide to drive down to Philly and I might join you for the day.....haven't been spotting there since I was four years old, hahaha. :D

-Omar S.

Steven Holzinger
2006-03-07, 11:34 PM
When you guys do go, let me know. PHL is my home airport, although, if you were to ask me about my "home" airport since I'm at school, I'll gladly say JFK. :-)

2006-03-08, 09:35 AM
Actually, this isn't a spotting specific trip. I'm taking Phil to Philly (make the bad jokes...my friends already have) for some birthday activities and a little chunk of morning spotting is just a bonus.

BUT, next time we head down there we'll be sure to post about it.

Thanks for all of the suggestions and info! :mrgreen:

2006-03-12, 10:54 AM
Hey All,

Yesterday I went to PHL for spotting and I've got some great stuff.
5 UPS B763F
1 Kitty Hawk Cargo 733F
1 DHL 722F
2 FedEx DC10F
and more regular stuff.
No problems with police, they passed us many many times but never stopped to check us.
Here are some pictures from yesterday:


2006-03-13, 01:40 PM
The guy that runs the site is Paul Kanagie. He's on A.net as RWY27R

There are very rarely problems spotting at PHL now, thanks to Paul's persistence. If you do get hassle follow Rafal's advice.

2006-03-13, 01:52 PM
If I get to shoot ANY type of 727, I'll be satisfied!

Our revised plan is to get there no later than 7:15am, and stay for several hours, depending on the weather. At this point, they're calling for a bit milder than this week, high around 50...cloudy with winds. I guess we won't know anything too accurate til at least the day before (especially after the change for the better this weekend in NY). It would be great to get even just a COLD sunny day though.

Either way, I'm glad Phil will get to see another airport that he hasn't yet, even if we can't shoot anything too great b/c of clouds. :)

2006-03-20, 09:00 AM
Well, we made it down and back from Philly. LOOONNNNNNGGGG day, with a couple hours of spotting in the morning. We arrived before 8am and spotted til about 10:30. We actually ran into the guy who runs phlairline.com! Phil was excited to get a couple planes he's never seen around here, but I'll let him tell you about it.

I'll be editing my shots and posting in the next couple days. I got one I'm particularly proud of, but I don't want to spoil it!

We saw several planes that would've been nice to see depart, but they weren't going anywhere for hours....UPS 727, ATI DC-8, Lufthansa A340 (which apparently had some engine trouble and was just chillin at the USAir building)

The burned UPS DC-8 was surprisingly laid out for all to see. We both got a couple shots of that as well. Poor thing.

Check back soon for the shots! :)

2006-03-20, 09:17 AM
I got a Miami Air 737, and a lot of US new colors (757, 767, CRJ). I also got a US 757 in Star Alliance. Even US 757 in regular colors was a new one for me, so I was happy.

Philly is great. One road, easy to see what is coming, no insane racing around to catch something, nice angles, friendly police and all. Maybe if they had a little more diverse traffic it'd be better, but it's a lot of fun. I plan to go back there again soon.

2006-03-20, 03:12 PM
The guy that runs the site is Paul Kanagie. He's on A.net as RWY27R

Actually, I'm Runway27right on A.net, but I seldom visit A.net.

But I guess you can tell I'm now on this board. I do plan to visit JFK at least a couple times in the upcoming months.

I used to visit EWR & TEB often, but never made in to JFK or LGA.

Paul (from PHL)

2006-03-20, 08:35 PM
Just wanted to share one shot that I got....something that I really wanted. More to come later:


2006-03-20, 10:00 PM
Wow that's very cool Mel!! Phil said you got that shot, nice job. Happy you guys had a great time in Philly, did you get Phil a chessesteak?

2006-03-20, 11:06 PM
I did! I took him to Geno's and next time we'll do Pat's :P

To get that shot, I jumped on top of the rental car and just went for it. Tried 3 times and only pressed the shutter once on each...this was my third try and I was SO happy when I looked at the LCD. When I saw Phil's reaction to it, I knew I had finally got it. :mrgreen:

We're planning another Philly trip within the next couple months, but we'll stay longer and plan it better to catch some great cargo stuff and the international traffic. I'm excited already.

2006-03-20, 11:50 PM
To get that shot, I jumped on top of the rental car and just went for it.

So that's how the car got the dents......Phil told me someone hit it, LOL j/k

2006-03-21, 12:08 AM
You callin' me fat son? :x


2006-03-21, 03:40 PM
Editing between dirty diapers and Teddy Grahams...I actually opted to edit first, the 2 that will almost defintely never be seen on Anet or JP, just b/c they are the shots that I went to get, and I want to share them. A bit soft, but I'm satisfied...especially since I only hit the shutter once per plane, after jumping on top of the car. :-P

One US Air 752 somehow managed its way into Photoshop, too. Tonight is edit night for me and Phil, so hopefully no procrastination will ensue, and I'll have more to share tomorrow...

In the meantime!!!! :mrgreen:




Alex T
2006-03-21, 04:01 PM
Mel NICE WN shot! N487WN must be a bird to shoot cause a few of my other friends have shot it at their airports too!

I flew on N482WN so not that far off (yes Tom i remembered that registeration too;))


2006-03-21, 11:56 PM
Ok, here are some of my shots from that day. The light was great, although the sun did get high a little fast.

First, which of these two shots do you think I should try to upload?





Was nice getting some Miami Air. I've never gotten this before.


A sad sight.


Didn't know they even had Star Alliance 757s.


I've sen this one at LGA before.



2006-03-22, 12:02 AM
Excellent shots, Phil. I prefer the first US 762 shot (closeup) over the second.

Steven Holzinger
2006-03-22, 12:13 AM
I didn't think Miami Air went into PHL... and yet, it's my home airport!

AA 777
2006-03-22, 12:45 AM
Awesome shots Phil! I'd go for the second US 767 - I think it has more of a "soaring" feeling...

Alex T
2006-03-22, 01:18 AM

Tom and I saw the Star Alliance US 757 at BWI as well. It was dark to see but Tom mentioned it was US Airways. So yes they definetly have them as you noticed too!

Great shots as well id like to see the 2nd 767 US Airways uploaded too.


2006-03-22, 09:07 AM
Very nice Phil. and as far as the US 757 Star Alliance 757 comment I believe you where kidding right ? If not is one of three !


2006-03-22, 10:08 AM

Tom and I saw the Star Alliance US 757 at BWI as well. It was dark to see but Tom mentioned it was US Airways. So yes they definetly have them as you noticed too!

Great shots as well id like to see the 2nd 767 US Airways uploaded too.


Was it that bird Alex or was it a 321? Does US even have 321s in those colors? I wasn't paying to much attention since it was after dark and you could hardly see it. But I do remember now seeing her.

Alex T
2006-03-22, 02:21 PM
[quote="Alex T":d9c91]Phil--

Tom and I saw the Star Alliance US 757 at BWI as well. It was dark to see but Tom mentioned it was US Airways. So yes they definetly have them as you noticed too!

Great shots as well id like to see the 2nd 767 US Airways uploaded too.


Was it that bird Alex or was it a 321? Does US even have 321s in those colors? I wasn't paying to much attention since it was after dark and you could hardly see it. But I do remember now seeing her.[/quote:d9c91]

Tom, it sure was a Boeing 757. It came from CLT.

Flight Itinerary
US Airways Depart 5:20P CLT Arrive 6:40P BWI 757

We saw it right around 6:30pm.