My Favorite Places

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One of Southwest’s fancy-pants liveries, as seen from the top of the garage.

The best part of being an avgeek at the airport is the view outside the window. True, most of my day I’m at my desk, working. But when I’m on break I make a beeline for one of my favorite viewing spots. I have discussed some these locations previously in different contexts. However, it occurred to me that these places are such a big part of my airport experience that they really deserve a post of their own.

My Five Faves:

Apron: What’s not to love about the apron? There’s nothing but open space between me and some very cool airplanes! I don’t think you can fully appreciate an airplane until you see it fly AND until you can stand next to it on the ground – the enormity of the tail, the beauty of the swept-back wings, the power of the engines. If there’s a downside to the apron it’s that I pretty much only go out there to get from point A to point B – I can’t just stand around and admire the scenery, even though I really want to. Plus there is the ever-present temptation to “borrow” the motorized stairs.

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Storm clouds over the airfield, as seen from the employee lot.

Employee Lot: Sounds crazy but this is one of my very favorite places at the airport. I always park as close to the runway as I can, which gives me a great view of the airfield. In the summer it’s really beautiful – all green grass and gold flowers with blue skies and puffy clouds. The air is filled with the sound of little birds singing… and jet engines. It smells of mowed lawn, flowers… and Jet A fuel. And best of all, I can enjoy the scenery from the comfort of my car.

Top of the Garage: The closest I can get to being alone during the work day is atop the parking garage. From here I get an almost 360 degree view of the airport. There’s always something interesting to see. My only regret is that there isn’t anywhere to sit. I’ve been soooo tempted to sit on top of the cars, but something tells me that would be frowned upon.

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Make sure you stay between the lines! Creative line painting at Airfield Maintenance.

Concourse B: When the weather is too cruddy to go on top of the garage, I almost always head to Concourse B. It is at the back (eastern edge) of the airport and offers nice views of both runways. Plus there’s an excellent view of the large open space behind the airport where de-icing takes place in the winter. Portions of B aren’t used much mid-day so I can usually find a quiet corner to tuck myself into. And I’ve memorized where the bathrooms are located – so go ahead and ask!

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Part of the view from my favorite conference room.

Conference Room: My favorite conference room is up on the third floor, overlooking Concourse B. It has a nice view of the north runway and you can see part of the south runway from there as well. Unfortunately it doubles as the Emergency Ops Center and is kept locked so there’s no way to sneak in for a little plane spotting when the room isn’t in use. Still, it provides some awesome scenery to look at during boring meetings… er I mean during breaks.

Honorable Mention:

McDonalds/Cell Phone Lot/Hotel Lots: Want fries to go with that Airbus 319 blasting off directly in front of you? The McD’s parking lot has a great view of the north runway. And really, what goes better with plane spotting than fries and a milkshake? The cell phone lot or the parking lots behind the hotels would probably also be good viewing locations, although I haven’t tried them… yet.

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Wanna race?

Golf Course: The Airport Golf Course is conveniently located just off the eastern end of the runways. I imagine the distraction of planes flying low directly over your head might have a negative impact on your golf game, but who cares – the view is spectacular! And anyway, I don’t play golf. In fact, as a kid I broke my ankle playing putt-putt. No I’m not kidding.

Airfield Maintenance Facility: Although you can see the north runway pretty well from the AFM buildings, it’s not the best place for plane spotting. But that’s OK because there are so many other cool things to see. When was the last time you got to take a close-up look at a broom truck? And you can’t really comprehend the enormity of a snow plow until you stand next to it. Of course, much like the Apron, the AFM Buildings are filled with temptations. Fortunately, it’s unlikely I could figure out how to start a plow let alone take one for a joyride.

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Is that a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor? Why yes, it is! I’ll be guest posting the story – details about where and when coming soon!

5 thoughts on “My Favorite Places

  1. Speaking of roof tops, LAX has one of the best. They have a large public-use helipad up there. If you look at the airport layout, you’ll see that the garage sits smack dab in the middle of the airport, right in between two sets of parallel runways. Student pilots from SNA make their solo cross country flight there. Must be a real hoot!

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  2. Another great read Jen
    Good place for spotting is at TampaAirport Large outdoor smokers deck near the shuttles. Good if you can get away from the smoke ✈️

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    • Thanks Wendy! The traffic in and out of my airport is pretty run-of-the-mill, but when you love airplanes, it doesn’t matter. And if you like golf AND airplanes then you’re really in luck! LOL

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  3. I can relate the most to your thoughts on the apron. I’ve told you before how much I enjoy the exterior inspection of the aircraft. The sounds and smells have a way of reminding me how lucky I am to live my dream. Thanks for another great read Jenn ; )

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