Birmingham Airport

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Continent: Europe Country: United Kingdom Region: England

One of the UK's busiest airports, Birmingham has a wide variety of visitors. Official viewing locations are very scarce, but there are plenty of great places around the airport if you have a car. Sun can be a problem for photos, especially on runway 33, as the runway is one of the very few in the country to go from north to south. But with a bit of creative shooting, and finding the right place, some excellent action shots can be had.

Birmingham Airport
Location Birmingham, England
Airport type Commercial
Overview map Google Maps
Tower 118.305
Ground 121.805
Clearance 121.930
Approach 123.980
ATIS 136.030
Plane Spotting Hotels guide

Official Spotting Locations

Long Stay 1

Leaving the airport and into the long stay, you will see signs for 'Viewing Area'. Follow these and you will come to a place with picnic benches and a small shelter.

Other Spotting Locations

Runway 33 End

At the airport, park in the long stay car park to the south of the runway. From here you can park anywhere you like to get excellent photos of landings on runway 33. There is also a small grass area with benches, offering a great view over the apron and terminal areas, with good photos to be had.

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Runway 15 End

Follow the A45 from the airport towards Birmingham City Centre. Eventually you will get to some shops and a big set of traffic lights. Turn right here onto Sheaf Lane, into Sheldon. Follow until you get to a roundabout, where you can turn right. Take the first right onto Elstead Avenue, then at the end just before the cul-de-sac turn left onto Hazeldene Road. Just as the road turns sharp left, there is a little cul-de-sac area on the right, with a looped road. Park somewhere here (DO NOT BLOCK IN THE RESIDENTS, PLEASE PARK CONSIDERATELY). Walk through the entrance into Sheldon Country Park, then turn left.

Alternatively use the car park in Elmdon Lane, Marston Green, adjacent to Marston Green railway station.

The footpath through the park goes right through the approach lights on short final, and you can get good photos of aircraft landing and queuing for takeoff on runway 15.

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Golf Course

This location offers great views of the runway, no matter what end they are using. If 15 is in use you get touchdown shots, if 33 is in use you get rotation shots. You have the sun behind you for most of the day.

From the airport follow the A45 down towards Birmingham. Continue past the old terminal to some traffic lights signposted for Hatchford Brook Golf Course.

Park up in the car park of the golf course, then walk towards the airport perimeter fence (you can't miss it). Be very careful - you are walking on an active golf course, so stay clear of the players (they will get mad at you), and keep looking out for stray balls! You will get to a point with a building behind the fence, anywhere around here is good. You can then walk along the fence towards the threshold of 15 (however the runway eventually becomes above your head so not much good for photos if you go too far along).

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Update 20 April 2009

The Golf Club have taken steps to stop people getting in this way. There is now a high fence along the entire length of the car park, so you can only get in by going through the club house. There are also now lots of signs warning that parking is only for users of the golf course.

You can still get to this spot, but it includes a considerably longer walk (about a mile).

Follow the instructions for "Runway 33 End" above, parking considerably. When you go through the gate, instead of turning left, go straight across the path, following the trodden grass down to the fence. From here, you literally follow the fence on your left until you get to the golf ball and the fence cuts across to the right. Anywhere here is good for photos. You cross a couple of bridges and some soggy ground after rain, but you end up in the same position on the golf course as you would have before.

Locations to Avoid

Old Terminal

You used to be able to go to the old terminal and take photos from the steps. Do not do this. You can expect to be moved on very quickly by security or the police from this location.

Regular Traffic

Mainly UK regional traffic. FlyBe have a base here so expect to see lots of their DHC-8s and ERJs. Apart from that, many of the European majors fly here. Aer Lingus, KLM, Air France, Lufthansa, SAS, Swiss, all fly in several times a day.

There is a lot of UK charter traffic from the likes of Monarch, MyTravel, ThomsonFly, but mostly short haul.

The foreign long haul aircraft that come in include Pakistan International, Air India and Emirates, all have daily flights.

Facilities and Transportation

The airport has a transit link to Birmingham International railway station from where services depart to destinations throughout the country.

The airport terminals are also served by a variety of local bus services and coaches.

The motorways M6 & M42 are a short distance from the airport.

A shop selling aviation books, magazines, radios etc is situated within the Aviation Experience

External Links

Birmingham Airport Forum For BHX spotters and aviation enthusiasts as well as aviation professionals to discuss all aspects of Birmingham airport. Forums4airports also has dedicated forums for all major UK airports.