The main Fort Lauderdale airport for commercial traffic is Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. All major US airlines can be found here, including the low-cost airlines Southwest, Jetblue and Spirit, the latter having a hub here. Apart from airlines the general aviation scene is interesting as well, owing to a couple of FBOs, a Bombardier facility (near the control tower) and an Embraer delivery centre (in the northeast corner). The latter means that most Embraer aircraft going to a US customer pass by here.
Three runways used to serve FLL, but currently only runway 10L/28R is in use. Therefore all traffic use this runway, which means that you hardly miss anything. Major construction is going on to make runway 10R/28L long enough to handle large traffic as well. Also runway 13/31 is now disused.
The four passenger terminals are on the east side in between the parallel runways. Opposite on the west side are the major FBOs, as well as the base of Silver Airays (formerly Gulfstream International Airlines). The northside is for cargo and remaining FBOs. All are connected by a perimeter road, which is public access.
The airport is in the corner of two highways: Interstate 95 and Interstate 595. The latter is the main access road to the terminals. However, to reach the vantage points 1 and 2, it is easier to take the Griffin Road exit off I-95.
Public transportation (busses) is served by Broward County Transit. You can also take shuttle busses from the terminals to the Tri-Rail railway station.
Around the Airport
1Ron Gardner Aircraft Observation Area
This is the official viewing area along taxiway to runway 10L. Before 9/11 there were holes in the fence to allow photos to be taken easier, but these were removed soon after. Therefore taken photos of taxiing aircraft is more difficult, especially if you have a large diameter lens. Then your best option is to find a somewhat higher spot (for example the roof of your rental car!) to photograph aircraft during landing on runway 10L. Stay in the immediate vicinity of the observation area, otherwise the police will chase you away.
When westerly operations are in effect, this spot is pretty useless, as aircraft are way too high for decent photos.
2Green Belt Park
On the south western edge of the airport there is a small park, that provides an elevated view of a part of the airport, including the southern parallel runway. People come watching planes here, or just to walk their dog, so reading off aircraft across the runway is relaxed. Depending of the heat waves, you can even identify aircraft at the main terminal.
Being on a hill means that you look over the airport perimeter fence, so photography of aircraft using runway 10R/28L can be done easily. Mind that currently runway 10R/28L is being reconstructed, so there will be no traffic using it for some time. The access road to the park is off Griffin Road.
3Hibiscus parking garage
The east and west corner of the seventh (roof) level of the Hibiscus parking garage have been officially dedicated an aircraft observation area by the airport authority with signs posted and benches to sit. From this spot you will get a good view of the terminals on the north side and also of runway 10L/28R. To get here follow the signs to airport. When approaching the terminals, follow the signs to the parking garages and look for Terminal 1 parking. Do not take the entrance for short term parking, because that will only take you the second level.
When runway 28R is the main runway in use, this is a better place to be than spot 1. Even when runway 10L is in use, you may want to consider going here, as departures from runway 10L are still relatively low taking into account that you are at an elevated position. Mind that 300-400 mm is the minimum required focal length then.
To view the aircraft parked on the north aprons, just take every side road off the perimeter road, which runs just north and below the I-595 here.
Over the fence of the Ron Gardner aircraft viewing area you can shoot landing aircraft, like this Spirit Airlines A319. (Leo Hoogerbrugge)
Alex Peake located himself in Green Belt Park, spot 2, from where he photographed Citation Sovereign N681RP on 8 February 2010.
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