Plane Watching at Canberra Airport?

ActuAli 29 June 2011 26

I was thinking of taking my kids for a trip out to the airport to watch some planes landing and taking off.

I know that other airports have viewing areas – does Canberra have one? Alternatively, can anyone suggest good vantage points around the perimetre?

I am aware that we may attract the attention of airport security, but I don’t have a problem with this. I just want somewhere exciting to view planes with a plane/helicopter obsessed 2yr old without paying a fortune in carparking fees at the airport itself.


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Skyring Skyring 10:07 am 17 Aug 11

JC said :

The wall is a blast wall and is used to deflect the exhaust from jet aircraft away from the road. It was installed when they lengthened the runway towards the south putting the end too close to the road. Without it, it is conceivable that vehicles on the road could get blown away by (big) jets taking off.

Which is a good time to mention this video. I’ll bet the ears of the driver of that car heading towards Queanbeyan are still ringing.

The old cabyard used to be great for plane moments. There’d be a B737 just metres away on the other side of the fence, and when they loaded up the Dash-8s and turned ’em around to taxi out, the wingtips seemed to almost brush your hair.

You could see the planes coming in from the north and every now and then there would be some exotic bird carrying a foreign head of state, or a military job.

Yeah, the two level carparks at BBP are good places. You’re above the fenceline, so photography is unobstructed, and kids will definitely get a wave from the pilots as they taxi out. Pretty young ladies too – take the missus.

GraceMaybe GraceMaybe 9:41 pm 04 Jul 11

Brand Depot used to be a good spot in the eatery, but that’s now closed, but there is always that carpark and no one would go there anymore so the kids could run around, you could pack a picnic, i believe the is some grass area somewhere…

Pandy Pandy 11:58 pm 30 Jun 11

Devil_n_Disquiz said :

That area of road has signs all down it saying “No Stopping” or “No Parking”. If the AFP find you sitting there, expect to be moved on and perhaps a fine to go with it. That includes the little road that goes down the side of the ‘forest of lights’.

http://photobucket.com/devil_n_disquiz

Where is the best place to use a lazer pointer from? :>-

I_P I_P 1:40 pm 30 Jun 11

Lollipops at Brand Depot is good for plane watching with little ones. It is a kiddies activity centre (giant slide, jumping castle, ball pit) but they have a large floor to ceiling window facing where the planes take off. You will have to pay for entry but parking is free and it is indoors.

I take baby IP sometimes there.

Devil_n_Disquiz Devil_n_Disquiz 12:24 pm 30 Jun 11

The best place for watching aircraft taking off/landing from the south is from the upper level of the carpark in Brindabella Business Park.
Aircraft taking off to the north often taxi past on taxiway bravo which is within spitting distance of the carpark. Nice close up views.

Those that have told you to sit at the end of the runway near the blast fence etc are leading you slightly astray. That area of road has signs all down it saying “No Stopping” or “No Parking”. If the AFP find you sitting there, expect to be moved on and perhaps a fine to go with it. That includes the little road that goes down the side of the ‘forest of lights’.
You can also go park on the side of Glenora Ave which is the road off Piallgo that leads into the old RAAF base.

At the northern end sitting on the side of Majura Road is often a good spot.

If you sit at any of the fence line around the airport, just keep in mind to remain 3m away from the fence.

Some pics from the upper level carpark are here. The Air New Zealand one was taken from Fairbairn. But you can get an idea of how close you can get 🙂

http://photobucket.com/devil_n_disquiz

Jivrashia Jivrashia 11:33 am 30 Jun 11

troll-sniffer said :

Only marginally better than standing in your backyard

Oh yeah…. Them damn trees. If those weren’t there it would be a perfect lookout.

EvanJames EvanJames 11:25 am 30 Jun 11

They seem to mainly take off into the wind. So if it’s an easterly or southerly, they take off over the Qbn Road, and if it’s westerly or northerly, they take off towards gunghalin. I reckon the forest of lights at the southern end is the go, you can be right under them! You’ll see them lining up over Jerra on a Friday/Sunday night, coming in.

fragge fragge 10:57 am 30 Jun 11

If you drive out to Majura Park (off Majura Road, where Brand Depot was/is) and head from the direction of Brand Depot towards the airport, there’s a big carpark right on the fence, you can watch them take off quite well from there =]

dvaey dvaey 10:10 am 30 Jun 11

androo said :

big carpark at Brand Depot isn’t too bad for what you want

The food court area at BD is okay too, big glass windows overlooking the runway and you can even grab a drink and not pay for parking.

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 9:39 am 30 Jun 11

Jivrashia said :

What’s wrong with Mt. Ainsle lookout?
It has the entire view of the airport from end to end.

Ummmm… a slight problem with detail? Only marginally better than standing in your backyard watching the jets fly over at 33,000′. Sure, you can tell QF from VB, Dash-8 from Embraer from 737, but that’s about it.

p1 p1 9:36 am 30 Jun 11

Two is probably a little young, but you could give the guys at the air services airport fire station a call and see if you could get the kids in there for a look. It is on the edge of the tarmac, *and* you get to look at firetrucks.

Jivrashia Jivrashia 9:24 am 30 Jun 11

What’s wrong with Mt. Ainsle lookout?
It has the entire view of the airport from end to end.

The only shortcoming is that you can’t hear the noise of the jet engines, which is one of the excitement your 2y.o might be wanting.

madamcholet madamcholet 9:10 am 30 Jun 11

I’d vote for Toys R Us as well – as per a previous comment, the planes often turn off of the runway here after landing and if you are lucky you can get a wave from the pilot. Helps to look at the arrivals and departures schedule though as there are some long periods where nothing happens on a Saturday and Sunday. The other spot is down the other end by Jim Murphys which is just about where the planes start taking off if they are flying out that way. If anything is going on at Fairbairn helicopter wise you’ll get a good view from either location.

My nearly three year old is hard wired to love any type of vehicle, but especially if it flys. We are still having conversations about his plane trips at Easter, down to what he had to eat and drink on the plane. Wish he would pay as much attention to toilet training!

Anna Key Anna Key 9:35 pm 29 Jun 11

BBP car park is 50c an hour, which is usually plenty for my kids. You get nice and close to the planes taxiing, and get the occasional wave from a pilot. The airport website has arrival and departure times. Around 4pm on a Sunday sees about as many takeoffs and landings in a short period as you’ll get at Canberra. You might also get a few RAAF flights if Parliament is sitting.

JC JC 8:52 pm 29 Jun 11

EvanJames said :

A lot of plane spotters seem to like the area at the end of the runway, on the road to Qbn. They used to park right at the fence, but the airport built a great big wall there on the fence. It might stop a cessna but I can’t see it stopping anything bigger. So the spotters now park on the river side of the road, where there’s a forest of lights, but I often see AFP vehicles there, either hassling the spotters or being spotters themselves.

good place to be around 4pm onwards on a Friday or Sunday night. Lines of planes landing and taking off.

The wall is a blast wall and is used to deflect the exhaust from jet aircraft away from the road. It was installed when they lengthened the runway towards the south putting the end too close to the road. Without it, it is conceivable that vehicles on the road could get blown away by (big) jets taking off.

Carl Carl 7:29 pm 29 Jun 11

Toys r us is the best, free also. You can see planes leave the terminal, take off and land. And most days they taxi right by on their way to the terminal.

hek62 hek62 4:10 pm 29 Jun 11

The 17th tee at the Fairbairn Golf course provides a great view.

troll-sniffer troll-sniffer 4:07 pm 29 Jun 11

EvanJames said :

but the airport built a great big wall there on the fence. It might stop a cessna but I can’t see it stopping anything bigger.

It’s not a wall, just a jet blast deflector.

EvanJames EvanJames 4:00 pm 29 Jun 11

A lot of plane spotters seem to like the area at the end of the runway, on the road to Qbn. They used to park right at the fence, but the airport built a great big wall there on the fence. It might stop a cessna but I can’t see it stopping anything bigger. So the spotters now park on the river side of the road, where there’s a forest of lights, but I often see AFP vehicles there, either hassling the spotters or being spotters themselves.

good place to be around 4pm onwards on a Friday or Sunday night. Lines of planes landing and taking off.

mneuling mneuling 3:39 pm 29 Jun 11

The best place I’ve found is the open air two story car park at the Brindabella Business Park:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Airplane%20Spotting@-35.312569,%20149.191662
The car park itself is not free but there are some free spots about 100m away from there.

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