SP's St. Louis Plane Spotting

Showcase the beauty and grit of St. Louis in pictures.
I've long been an enthusiastic photographer. I've always enjoyed aircraft and flying. Until recently, I didn't shoot too terribly many photographs that prove this. (A few here and there when riding, but never as a serious plane spotter.) Turns out that shooting aircraft is a somewhat more challenging proposition that landscapes or even railroading. The things move fast and you often need to shoot from further away. And my longest lens is old and manual and doesn't cooperate perfectly with the darned digital. Working on that. These are early experiments, but since I said Lambert is getting to be a more interesting places to watch aircraft lately here's my attempt to prove it. Nothing exceedingly large, save one old snap of an L-1011 I was about to ride, but nevertheless some lovely airplanes. (Won't talk about the quality of the photos. Still experimenting.)

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Great photos. I rode on L1011s long ago. I still like the MD80 2/3 seating. And I always used to think 727s were the prettiest passenger jets.


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Wish I had a picture of a 727. I'm honestly not even sure if I've ridden one. The odds aren't bad since I flew TWA between Geneva and Charles de Gaulle, but it's hard to be sure, since It was the first leg of a flight that continued to Dulles. It's possible the 747 assigned to the transatlantic leg covered the whole thing, rather like the L1011 eastbound, but I no longer recall for sure. If it wasn't the 747 it probably would have been a 727 in Europe at that time, but man . . . that's a bunch of years back now. I have photographic evidence of the tri-star and the jumbo made a quite lasting impression. But most of the rest is speculation at this point. Taking better notes now, as well as more pictures.

In any case, thank you. The pictures aren't anything compared to what you see on the aviation forums. It really is a tricky art. But there don't seem to be too many pictures of L-1011s in St. Louis (even though there were bunches of them at one time.) So I'm pleased to have at least that. Glad you enjoyed. And with luck, they'll get better as I figure the new camera out a little better.
A few more aircraft yesterday out around Lambert:

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The SW state flag series planes are pretty bad a$$. I've ridden on Illinois One and it was pretty awesome. (Interior wasn't anything special but still was a fun addition to a business trip)
Woah, Sully.

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The birds were way the heck in front of the aircraft, thankfully. But yeah, it was quite a flock. I kind of thought that was a fun picture. The "serious" plane spotters seem to detest it. (You can't read the tail number, so they don't want it, I guess.) Surprisingly tricky subjects, these jet planes. Of course it is moving rather faster than Rosie's best pitch from his salad days, so . . .
A few more today:

CRJ-200 N874AS flying Skywest 5948
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Southwest 1844
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And an oddball experiment: making a long exposure in low light of an aircraft on its takeoff roll.
GoJet CRJ-700 assigned to Delta Connection flight 6289
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I'll share an old video, not very good quality, of a flight we took from SJU to STL on the 747-200 in the upper deck. It was a lot of fun up there, 8 seats total plus you had your own flight attendant and lav. As we come in you can see the old parking lot for plane spotting:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GD7Gv3IszOU

Got the fly on all the TW equipment in the 90s: 747, 767, 727, 757, L1011, M80s, DC9s
I've actually watched that video a couple of times. Enjoyed seeing it. Thank you.

I actually think India Palace is a pretty good spotting location, though that's a bit to drop on an evening of plane watching. Never had the chance to use the old lot. I flew TWA, and provided Dave's Free Taxi service for tons of folks, but in those days I just watched from inside the airport. Would give a lot to go back to those days. At least in terms of air travel it was clearly better times.
I am also an aviation enthusiast/plane spotter. I remember back in the day when Lambert used to have a spot you can park your car and watch airplanes. That spot now is wedged between W1-W and now is just a gravel lot and no one is allowed to park there anymore. I wish Lambert can get a real place where spotters can spot without getting hassled by airport police. However, I discovered one can spot at the airport in several places. There is a spot the main terminal between the ticket counters, where I can watch airplanes taxiing. Also, at the Admirals Club I can spot from there too.
10-intuition wrote:
I am also an aviation enthusiast/plane spotter. I remember back in the day when Lambert used to have a spot you can park your car and watch airplanes. That spot now is wedged between W1-W and now is just a gravel lot and no one is allowed to park there anymore. I wish Lambert can get a real place where spotters can spot without getting hassled by airport police. However, I discovered one can spot at the airport in several places. There is a spot the main terminal between the ticket counters, where I can watch airplanes taxiing. Also, at the Admirals Club I can spot from there too.


Back before I worked for TWA in the early 90's I used to go watch and I remember they had a couple of 'official' parking spots to the west of the airport. There was a large rectangular parking lot that was frequently crowded with spotters and then a strip of parking spots just to the east of the parking lot on a road (Bridgeton Station?) that was just outside the airport boundary fence.

Along that road you could pull into a spot that was directly under 12R and the planes were so close when landing that you could hear the wind vortices coming down thru the fence. Sometimes the Bridgeton Police would drive by and tell me to move but many times they didn't care and would pass by.
The west cell phone lot (#1, I believe) isn't a bad spot. It's not as close as the old Lindbergh lot was, but it's decent.

-RBB
I've occasionally sat in the lot directly east of the cell phone lot. Accidentally pulled into it thinking it was the cell phone lot. I think it's actually employee parking, and I've not spent a lot of time there, but when waiting to pick up friends, it's even better than the official spot. There's a sign that says no long term parking, but nothing that says you can't stop and wait, and it's pretty empty most of the time. I think it's even a little better, since the fence is lower. That's where I've mostly been. India Palace seems pretty promising, as long as you have a long lens. (And maybe go a little earlier than dusk.) Supposedly the Renaissance has a lounge or restaurant that's pretty good. And Berry Hill Golf Club might well be worth the price of membership. O'Connor Park might even be good when 11/29 is in use, if you can still get to it. (From a map it looks like it should still be accessible by a couple of routes.) I suspect the airport owns most of that land now, so they might say something, but it's rather remote, so they also might not.
A few more from two trips: one a few weeks back and one this week:

late winter . . .

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early spring . . .

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I really enjoy your photos. Thanks for posting.
Thanks jshank83. If you ever want to head out towards the airport for lunch or dinner and to just sit and watch planes PM me. :)
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An overview of the parking ramp. Note the 727 in the background. It was a day of unusual visitors. Man, I miss those 727s.

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Spirit Jets N945TM arrives from an experimental farm town in northern Michigan.

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"Blue Streak 5554" PSA CRJ-900 N576NN arrives with United Express 5544 from Charlotte/Douglas.

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I'd parked myself below the centerline of 12R, so it was a day of belly studies and straight on shots. This is AAL2101 from Miami, an A319 originally registered to US Air: N578US.

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By contrast, this is a much smaller ERJ170, not that you can tell from this perspective. This is Republic N726YX operating as American Eagle 3668 from Newark.

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Drift
Here's a more conventional shot of Mesa ERJ170 N86309 as United Express 6024 from Houston.

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The same touching down, just to give you some perspective on how far it really is to the runway. I'm fully a mile from the threshold, which should be just below the grass is, and another two to the opposite end. Between perspective and telephoto compression . . . and that ERJ is already nearly a half mile along the runway. (Which is pretty typical, I believe.)

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Big Blue bears down. Believe it or not, this was the only Southwest flight I witnessed landing that afternoon. (I did not linger, only staying perhaps a half hour.) N8733A is a 737-700 flying WN771 from Fort Lauderdale.

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And a last belly study. You Gotta Have Heart (Or so SWA wants us to believe, anyway.)
From 5-18

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N208WN flies WN1576 from Kansas City

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N698DL
Here's that DL 757-200, N698DL, on DL2084 from Atlanta

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N402YX on Republic/AA4484 from LaGuardia

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5-19
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TWA veteran N970TW on AA2190 to DFW

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N951DL on DL2413 to the Twin Cities
Things have been interesting out at the old ascension field lately. Here's some recent catches. We'll start with some normal stuff:

Cape Air
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American
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And then the first of a pair of Growlers
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SkyWest breaking up the fighters . . .
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Growler 2
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One of those Alaska flights from Seattle jshank mentioned, though not the red-eye. (Saw that on FlightAware, though. Did strike me as interesting.)
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Delta. Lovely. Normal.
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Wait what?
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That was a little part of why I went up to the airport. To see that thing. (That and all the zoomy jets zooming in and out. Just missed a pair of T-33s doing chase duty.)

The Catfish. Oh yeah. Weird. Highly modded 757. I'm guessing it's testing avionics for the T-X at the moment.
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PSA Airlines
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The Catfish was doing touch and goes, so you can see it here hading back out.
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A bird of a different feather: I didn't really make out the tail numbers, but let's call him NHWK01.
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One otter coming right up.
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And one more pass of the Catfish. (They actually landed it that time. Must have needed gas. Or coffee. Or something like that.)
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Nice pics SP, thanks for posting. Had never seen the 'Catfish' before.
Man, had I known the Catfish was in town, I would've made it a point to head up to the airport. Great pics, as usual.
Looks like one of those weird old Soviet things.
pdm_ad wrote:Nice pics SP, thanks for posting. Had never seen the 'Catfish' before.
I think I saw it a while back, or a picture of it, but this was the first time I really saw it well. Strange plane, to say the least. Thank you pdm.
Trololzilla wrote:Man, had I known the Catfish was in town, I would've made it a point to head up to the airport. Great pics, as usual.
Can't make any promises, but I don't see it listed anywhere else. I'm pretty sure it was still here the next night, shooting approaches and touch and goes on 29. Something about the right size and configuration kept circling and landing 29, only to throttle up and take off again, anyway. I was genuinely confused at first, but N757A would make a lot of sense. Neither FlightAware nor FlightRadar24 shows it having left. I don't see any plans listed for it, but that's not really too surprising. Keep your eyes open. I don't doubt more is in store next week. But I don't have any special knowledge, so expect to be disappointed, and then all your surprises will be pleasant. ;-)
framer wrote:Looks like one of those weird old Soviet things.
Apparently the nose cone is approximately that of an F-22 and the winglet on it's cockpit is instrumented. They test avionics with it. It's apparently outfitted with a fighter cockpit in the passenger compartment from which a test pilot can actually fly the thing blind. If I had to guess I'd say maybe they've refitted it with T-X avionics. Or maybe Growler avionics, since they seem pretty hot and heavy in that program. Might be testing new whizzbangs. But yeah. Weird is the word. :D I been 'fished!
symphonicpoet wrote:
Fri Oct 27, 2017 1:03 am
Can't make any promises, but I don't see it listed anywhere else. I'm pretty sure it was still here the next night, shooting approaches and touch and goes on 29. Something about the right size and configuration kept circling and landing 29, only to throttle up and take off again, anyway. I was genuinely confused at first, but N757A would make a lot of sense. Neither FlightAware nor FlightRadar24 shows it having left. I don't see any plans listed for it, but that's not really too surprising. Keep your eyes open. I don't doubt more is in store next week. But I don't have any special knowledge, so expect to be disappointed, and then all your surprises will be pleasant. ;-)
If I can find time between working the next few days, then I'll see about making a detour up there. Thanks for the tips :)