TIPS & LOCATIONS

This page is designed to give a quick guide on some of the locations for photographing aircraft at different airports in Europe.

As many aviation enthusiasts know, since the terrorist attacks in the USA in 2001, very many official viewing locations were closed down and some people look upon aircraft enthusiasts with suspicion. Photographing aircraft is not illegal, but there are places where it is allowed and those where it is forbidden, for example, BAA does not allow photography inside the airport. Always observe signs and notices, I recommend carrying some form of ID.

Note that in large part, the locations listed are not official viewing areas and you are reminded to abide by all laws and common sense when it comes to visiting these places. I would always suggest keeping well back from fences, do not trespass on private land, and politely follow any requests or demands by those in authority.

 
 
 

 

  Overview  
 

London's fourth airport is Luton and is located to the North West of London. It has one runway     . The airport is located at the top of a hill, this means that Luton is prone to fog and snow. The airport does have a good mix of airlines although aircraft are rarely larger than the A300. However in the summer of 2010 EL-AL was the first carrier to operate a 777 into the airport.


THIS IMAGE WAS TAKEN ON A BAD WEATHER DAY!

I've travelled from Luton many times and find that whilst a lot smaller than the likes of Stansted, it is quite pleasant and a lot of recent work has been undertaken to improve the terminal and facilities airside.

Luton is well known for it's busy business aviation business and at any given time there are numerous business jets coming and going. The airport is also base to Monarch and Thomson along with EasyJet and it's huge easyLand organge building!

 

Frequent Visitors

 
  • Ryanair (737s)
  • Aer Arann (ATRs)
  • Blue Air Romania (737)
  • EasyJet (737/Airbus)
  • FlyBe (Dash 8)
  • DHL (A300/757)
  • Monarch (Airbus 300/320/321)
  • Thomson (737,757,767)
  • EL-AL (757,767, maybe 777)
  • Wizz Air (Airbus 320)
  • Transavia (737)
     
     
     
     
     
   
  Viewing Areas
 

Short Stay Car Park

I have visited a couple of locations at Luton; first being the short stay car park. Luton is quite a congested airport at busy times but if you follow the main signs around the airport and head towards the terminal building you will see the signs for the short stay. When I say short, I mean it! it's a very expensive place so you could be looking at over 5.00 for an hour. Prices do change however so please only use this as a very general guide.
 


So why the short stay car park - well there is a taxiway adjacent to it and some remote parking stands which means it's possible to get very close up photos. However, note that this is not an official viewing location and you could very well be moved on. I would recommend having a look, but I wouldn't make plans to stay longer than 30 mins or so. You won't need long lenses here, 55mm lens will be fine.


THIS WAS TAKEN FROM THE SHORT STAY CAR PARK

Stephens Green

The most popular location for watching aircraft at Luton is alongside the runway giving good side on views. However as is often the case, photography is into the sun until mid afternoon so that can be problematic. There is a small road leading up to the airport crash barrier and people park along this road and walk across a small area of grassland to the perimeter fence. It is strongly advised not to obstruct the gate or you will be moved on. Park on one side of the road only as tight to the verge as possible to allow other cars to pass. Note this road is a no through road, therefore it is advisable to drive up to the crash gate, turn the car around prior to parking up.


THIS IMAGE WAS TAKEN FROM THE PERIMETER FENCE


There are no refreshments or toilet facilities at any of the locations. Also because the locations are fairly windy, I suggest taking suncream even in lowish temperatures to avoid burning.

     
  Getting There - Along the runway side on views  
  Access to Luton Airport can be from the M1 motorway or through some of the Bedfordshire villages. The M1 is notorious for roadworks and delays! so do be warned. I tend to travel from Essex via the 'back roads' through villages. I would suggest taking a sat nav.

Luton Airport is well signposted on the major routes, so finding the terminal building and short stay car park really is a case of reading the road signs.

Getting to Stephens Green is a little trickier.

Coming from Luton Airport travelling north to south, you should head towards Wheathamstead via the B653 road. As you continue along this road you will ass under a very tall railway bridge around a very tight bend, continue for another few hundred metres and on your right you'll see West Hyde Road and the Thames Water Treatment works. Immediately on your left is the road you need to take, there's a small sign showing "Stephens Green" You will now be on the Chiltern Green Road.

Coming from Wheathamstead towards Luton Airport you are travelling on the Lower Harpenden B653 to Luton. Keep travelling on this long winding road, you'll come to a point where on your left there is a river, then as you travel around the next bend you;ll see the Thames Water treatment works on the left. Immediately on the right is the road you need to take there's a small sign showing "Stephens Green" You will now be on the Chiltern Green Road.

Once on the Chiltern Green Road you'll need to continue driving for about 10 minutes, you'll pass under a railway bridge and the road ascends and it really is a country road - fields either side and goes for a while! Eventually you'll get to more wooded areas, continue following the road around until you reach a junction the sign reads Chiltern Green Leading to Dane Street also Breachwood Green is signposted here. Follow this road you'll see a large house on the right and a junction in the road, carry straight on and within a couple of minutes you're there!

For maps and additional information I would suggest this excellent resource Plane-Mad.com

PHOTOGRAPHY
You will need a ladder to be high enough to see over the fence in most places, however a couple of points closest to the crash gate you could just about see over the fence if on tip toes! Luton has a very good fence namely that is has holes large enough to put a lens through so should enable pictures to be taken. However as always you must stay well back from the fences.


A VIEW OF TAXIING EASYJET 737

 

 
A VIEW FROM THE SHORT STAY CAR PARK

     
   
 
© David Hynes    

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