I hoped to spend at least a day spotting at JFK airport during my trip to New York back in February. Unfortunately, though, the weather wasn’t good for large part of my stay, and so I mostly enjoyed spending time in the city.
The luck changed on my last day when the forecast said the afternoon would be sunny. And so, I made a plan to go spotting at JFK together with my friend Raj who was kind enough to show me around. (Once again, thanks for your help!)
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A Cloudy Start at the “Howard Beach” Spot
Ever since I started spotting more than ten years ago, one of the locations I wanted to go to the most was the famous JFK banking spot. And, a month ago, I finally had the chance to do so.
I met Raj at Lefferts Boulevard Station around 11AM, and we headed to the “banking spot” where we met another couple of spotters. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was still cloudy, and so after a couple of shots, we moved on to the next spot, “Panera” to catch some (hopefully sunny) arrivals.
An Increasingly Sunny Afternoon at “Panera”
When we arrived at “Panera” – a spot named after a bread store located next to it – it was still cloudy. However, soon enough it started clearing up, and so we could start getting sunny photos of aircraft landing on runway 31R.
The first aircraft to enjoy the sunshine on its final approach was a Swiss A330, followed by a couple of local movements, and then followed by one of the aircraft I was hoping to catch that day – the Brussels Airlines A330.
Other European movements that we were able to catch in the hour and a half or so of sunny time we spent there included an OpenSkies 757-200, an Ukraine International 767-300ER, a Lufthansa 747-8i in the “Fanhansa Siegerflieger” livery that I saw in Tokyo a week prior, and a trio of A330s.
The other four flights by non-US airlines included a pair of narrowbodies from Mexico, as well as a pair of 777-300ERs – one from Japan and the other from Qatar.
Of course, there were also several arrivals of aircraft operated by US airlines – predominantly JetBlue. The highlight of those, though, was a Virgin American A320 since the livery will soon disappear as the planes get repainted into Alaska Airlines livery.
A Sunny End at the “Howard Beach Spot”
To end the day, we decided to head back to the “HoBe” spot so that I could – at last – get some sunny banking photos. And, I wasn’t disappointed!
Just as we got there, a Kalitta Air 747-400 freighter took off. And, while it didn’t bank, I was still glad to get a new aircraft for my collection.
Unlike at the “Panera” spot, I didn’t photograph all movements here, since most of the narrow bodies is too high and far at this point. However, the location is well worth going to for the heavies that bank nice and low.
The first two “banks worth shooting” were performed by an Aeromexico 787 and an Aerolineas Argentinas A330.
Those were followed by a pair of aircraft departing to China.
And, finally, a pair of aircraft departing back to Europe including the Lufthansa 747-8i that we shot earlier on approach.
Throughout the whole time, when there were no “metal birds” to photograph, there was plenty of real birds to enjoy photographing.
The last movement that we took a photo of – and certainly my favorite bank of the day – was the departure of Emirates’ Airbus A380-800.
Since at that point, the sun was setting fast, we decided to call it a day. But, not before spending some minutes photographing the sunset on the non-airport facing side of the island the spot is located on.
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