Spotting Report: A Sunny Afternoon at New York John F. Kennedy Airport

Spotting Report: A Sunny Afternoon at New York John F. Kennedy Airport

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.

JAL 777-300ER

JAL 777-300ER.
Norwegian 787

Norwegian 787-9.

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.

Swiss International Airlines A330 Landing at JFK

Swiss A330-300.
JetBlue A320

JetBlue A320.
American Airlines A321

American Airlines A321.
Brussels Airlines A330 Landing at JFK

Brussels Airlines A330-200.

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.

OpenSkies 757 Landing at JFK

OpenSkies 757-200.
Ukraine International 767-300ER Landing at JFK

Ukraine International 767-300ER.
Lufthansa 747-8i Landing at JFK

Lufthansa 747-8i.
Alitalia A330 JFK

Alitalia A330-200.
Aer Lingus A330

Aer Lingus A330-300.
Virgin Atlantic A330 at JFK

Virgin Atlantic A330-300.

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.

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Landing at JFK

Qatar Airways 777-300ER.
ANA 777-300ER Landing at JFK

ANA 777-300ER.
InterJet A320

Interjet A320.
AeroMexico 737-800 Landing at JFK

Aeromexico 737-800.

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.

JetBlue Embraer ERJ-190

JetBlue ERJ-190.
JetBlue A321

JetBlue A321.
American Airlines 737-800

American Airlines 737-800.
Virgin America Airbus A320 Landing at JFK

Virgin America A320.

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.

Kalitta Air 747-400 Departing JFK

Kalitta Air 747-400F.

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.

AeroMexico 787 Landing at JFK

Aeromexico 787-9.
Aerolineas Argentinas A330 Departing JFK

Aerolineas Argentinas A330-200.

Those were followed by a pair of aircraft departing to China.

China Eastern 777-300ER Departing JFK

China Eastern Airlines 777-300ER.
Air China 747-8i Departing JFK

Air China 747-8i.

And, finally, a pair of aircraft departing back to Europe including the Lufthansa 747-8i that we shot earlier on approach.

Air France 777-200ER Departing New York

Air France 777-200ER.
Lufthansa 747-8i Departing New York

Lufthansa 747-8i.

Throughout the whole time, when there were no “metal birds” to photograph, there was plenty of real birds to enjoy photographing.

Bird

Non-metal bird.

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.

Emirates A380 Departing New York JFK Airport

Emirates 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.

Sunset in New York

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Sunset after a day of spotting.

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