Spotting Locations

Viewing Area/Long Stay (Car Park 5)

Description & photo opportunities
The Long Stay car park has always been the place to be and remains a favourite location for many local spotters and photographers today. Due to construction works, the car park has seen numerous changes including the loss of the unforgetable and popular picnic area. More recently, we have lost the extension area of the car park which ran parallel with Taxiway Echo (E) which had become the new favourite spot for photos after the picnic area!

Today, with the opening of the new runway extension (on the 27th May 2014), the car park has been fully refurbished and further extended along side the new ‘Taxiway Sierra’ (S) offering fantastic photo opportunities especially in the morning sunshine of aircraft taxiing out and departing off Runway 33. When on Runway 15, most aircraft will turn off before the extension area. Whilst standing within the car park you are able to photograph aircraft on finals/landing on Runway 33 along with aircraft climbing out off Runway 15. Other photo opportunities include parked aircraft (nearest the terminal) on remote stands 20-25 (usually Flybe & Ryanair) & aircraft taxiing to/from the terminal.

The car park is surrounded by the airport perimeter fence making photos rather difficult, gaps maybe found and step ladders* are required for the professional photographers. In places, ‘wind breakers’ within the perimeter fence further restrict your views. You are able to walk the full length of the perimeter fence within the car park area, starting from the terminal building area right up to the new extension area.

Along the new ‘Taxiway Sierra’ (S) you will again be faced with the perimeter fence in which you can photograph through. An inner airside fence has also been put up here, luckily the fence is much lower and although will appear in your photos, will not obstruct aircraft. Further up towards the holding point (Sierra 1 (S1), a jet blast screen will also appear in your photos.

* When using step ladders… think security! Ensure that they are removed after and in between taking photos. Airport police and security strictly monitor the area and you maybe approached and challenged.


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)

Best time to go?
First thing in the morning is by far the best time to go when the sun is fantastic with good light. Photographing aircraft across the airfield & extension area is good up until mid/late afternoon. Along the new taxiway and rotating/landing shots only good first thing in the morning with the sun. Recommended for families along with Sheldon Country Park.


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)

How do I access this location?
If your driving, simply follow the signs for ‘Car Park 5′ as you approach the airport. The entrance can be found on your left off ‘Bird Island’ (an island with a bird statue) next to the new radar tower. On entry into the car park, head towards and perimeter fence and park up. Parking charges apply!

Don’t drive? From the terminal building, follow the pavement up hill (towards and past the old Terminal 2 building), continue to walk towards the ‘Car Hire’ area (sign posted). You will see the perimeter fence and footpath on your right. Follow this footpath into the Car Park 5.



(Picture: Mikey Lamb)


Perimeter fence
Walkway to/from Terminal building
Walkway to/from Runway extension area
Main entrance into Long Stay 1 car park
Long Stay 1 car park site

Runway Extension Area

Description & photo opportunities
Using the directions below, along side the new extended stretch of the A45 is a raised foot/cycle path offering good photos of aircraft landing on Runway 33. For the best photos, as you near the approach, walk along the gravel cycle path (view directions below) where you will be able to capture aircraft taxiing down the new ‘Taxiway Sierra’ (S) and lining up at the new holding point ‘Sierra One’ (S1) for Runway 33.

Despite being close to the action and raised from the busy A45, the ILS system, the approach lights and the street lighting obstruct your views restricting your photo opportunities.

Recommendation: On the gravel footpath looking across the A45, stand to the right of the runway opposite the new holding point ‘Sierra One’ (S1). Street lighting in the area will always be an issue though!

When Runway 15 is in use you will be able to photograph aircraft climbing out over the area, you will need a good zoom though as most aircraft will rotate early. Landings may also be tricky with several turn-offs being available for aircraft to vacate before the end of the Runway. Not the best location for Runway 15 operations!


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)

Best Time To Go
Late morning to early afternoon would be the best time to visit the area for the photographers when attempting to capture the movements on the new ‘Taxiway Sierra’ and holding area. From this location, the sun comes up from behind the terminal area and sets behind the Air Traffic Control tower (ATC). If you are on the foot/cycle paths, you can follow the sun around during the day as the paths stretch right across. The Long Stay 1 car park would be the prefered spot for morning shots, with the Elmdon multi-storey for late afternoon/evening shots. Remember, Runway 33 operations are the best from this location, not so on Runway 15!


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)

How do I access this location?
Alongside the new diverted section of the A45 Coventry Road is a raised foot/cycle path which routes from the major set of traffic lights at the junction of the Elmdon building* to the A45 flyover into the airport. Maybe not one of the easiest of places to access – its all got to be done on foot! Either park at the Elmdon site in the multi-storey car park or in the passenger Long Stay 1 car park.

*The footpath merges with the old original pavement as you near the Elmdon site traffic lights.

From Long Stay 1, walk out at the main exit of the car park (by the new radar tower) and at the island, follow the pavement around to your right along the dual-carriageway and over the A45 flyover (bridge).
Keep walking until just after the bridge where you will come across the beginning of a foot/cycle path on your right, follow this footpath which then runs alongside the A45 (Northbound) carriageway which then continues up a hill to the left.
Where the foot and cycle paths seperate, turn right onto the gravel footpath and let the spotting and the photography commence!

From the multi-storey, exiting the Elmdon site, cross the road at the traffic lights (note: this is a busy junction!) and turn left heading up the A45 (sign posted: Airport, M42 & Coventry). By crossing the road here allows you easier access to the new foot/cycle path.
Continue walking until the cycle and footpaths seperate, follow the gravel footpath which branches off to your left (next to a small green electricity/power station). You are now opposite the runway and the new holding point ‘Sierra One’ (S1) where your spotting and the photography can commence!


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)


Perimeter fence
Footpath to/from Elmdon and Long Stay 1 car park
Walkway to/from Terminal
The mound which is now a ‘restricted area’ from public access

Elmdon Multi-Storey Car Park

Description & photo opportunities
The multi-storey car park (roof top) on the Elmdon cargo site is now becoming a very popular spot to view and photograph aircraft, especially now that we have lost the viewing field behind the Tristar Hotel. It’s not the greatest of places to view from but the car park does offer some good views across the airfield including the approaches to both Runway 15 and 33, the terminal area, the remote stands (70/80’s) and the Monarch Hangar area.

Taking photos from the car park can be a little tricky what with all the roof tops from the old Elmdon buildings and cargo hangars. Having said that, good photos can still be taken of aircraft landing and departing off Runway 15/33.

Looking over the airfield, to the left of the car park you will be able to capture the Monarch Engineering Hangar and Elmdon movements. To the far right (in the corner) you can get the very best photos of aircraft landing/departing off Runway 33.

Got a good camera lense? You can capture the movements over at the terminal area and remote stands. If your coming down for movements relating to the new Monarch Hangar, it is possible to get photos from the car park (again with a good lense) of aircraft parked outside the Hangar on the apron.

Fancy something different? If you’ve had enough of the multi-storey, you can also check-out the crash gate adjacent to the Elmdon building (just to the right of the main doors). From here you can capture the movements of light aircraft and biz-jets from the Elmdon apron (view the biz-jet photo on the right). Step ladders* are required for the professional photographers.

*When using step ladders… think security! Ensure that they are removed after and in between taking photos. Airport police and security strictly monitor the area and you maybe approached and challenged.


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)

Best Time To Go
For the best photos, it can only really be the afternoon where the sun is behind you. In the morning you are left with the sun in your face! Evening’s (especially in the Summer) can offer some very good light and photos.


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)

How Do I Access This Location
If you drive and have a sat nav, enter this postcode: B26 3QT.
Finding your way and driving to the car park couldn’t be easier, just off the A45 (Coventry Road) at the traffic light junction of Damson Parkway (for Solihull) and Terminal Road (for the Elmdon site).

Take the Terminal Road exit and follow it down to the first small island and the car park is located on your right. Head up the ramp and drive towards the top (it is not always possible to park on the top level, park at the next level down and use the stair case provided). Please note that this is a ‘pay & display’ car park – although it appears that vehicles do not get checked, it is highly recommended that you follow the pay & display signage and show the necessary tickets on your windscreen. NCP own and monitor the area.

Don’t drive? Both the 900 (Birmingham-Coventry) and 966 (Erdington-Solihull) bus services stop outside the Elmdon site on the A45. Both operating frequently and operated by National Express West Midlands. Walking to this location may prove tricky with the busy A45 and traffic light junction.


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)


Perimeter fence
Directions by car to/from the terminal via A45
The Multi-storey car park
The Monarch Hangar area
Walking route to/from A45 extension area
Runway 15/33

Sheldon Country Park

Description & photo opportunities
Sheldon Country Park is located at the end of Runway 15 and is a great location for landing/approach (side-on or overhead) photos when they are on Runway 15 operations. Maybe not one of the best locations if you are after ground shots of aircraft taxiing to/from Runway 15/33 as the ground is rather uneven with dips and hills around the perimeter. You’ll need to stand right back to get the best photos. The further back you stand… the more you see!

On Runway 33 operations, it is only really possible to capture aircraft rotating and climbing out over the park. Most landing aircraft vacate early onto other taxiways before the end of the Runway making it difficult for photos unless you have a good lense! Aircraft now vacate even earlier what with the new runway extension.

This location is recommended for Runway 15 operations and is the ideal spot for families to visit (especially in the Summer months). In the winter months, expect mud – so be prepared! No charges apply in or around the park.


(Picture: David Godridge)

Best Time To Go
Recommended for Runway 15 operations only, an ideal late afternoon and evening location for photographing aircraft in good light. Great for families all day.


(Picture: Steve Freeman)

How Do I Access This Location
If you drive and have a sat nav, enter this postcode: B33 0QA.
You can either access the park from the Marston Green Train Station on foot or by parking up in the nearby residential estate which runs alongside Sheldon Country Park. The park is also accessable from Hatchford Brook Golf Course.

Driving from the airport, take the A45 (Coventry Road) Northbound following signs for Birmingham, at the 3rd set of traffic lights (high raised traffic lights) turn RIGHT onto ‘Sheaf Lane’. Continue to follow this road all the way down to the first island (at the junction of ‘Bray’s Road’ and ‘The Radleys’). Turn RIGHT onto ‘The Radleys’, then take the 5th RIGHT onto ‘Hazeldene Road’.

Follow this road to the top and where it turns to the right (in the corner) is a small circular cul-de-sac on your left where you can park your car (no parking charges apply) . On foot, accessable from the cul-de-sac, you will find a public grassy (often muddy) path entrance within the hedges and trees. You are now in Sheldon Country Park. The grassy/muddy path will connect you with the main public footpath running through the park area.

Don’t drive? The main footpath which crosses the park links both Marston Green Train Station* (to the left/East of the airfield) and the local housing estates (Elmstead Avenue, Hazeldene Road & Mapledene Road). A grassy/muddy path runs off this footpath for Hatchford Brook Golf Course (to the right/West of the airfield).

*Before accessing the station from the park, the path splits into 2 directions. AVOID walking under the the rail bridge as this will lead you to the local Hatchford Brook housing estate (path shown on the map in green below).


(Picture: Oliver Newman)


Perimeter fence
Walkway to/from Marston Green Train Station & Hazeldene Road
Walkway to/from Hatchford Brook Golf Course
Path to/from the local Hatchford Brook housing estate. AVOID for station

Hatchford Brook Golf Course

Description & photo opportunities
Hatchford Brook Golf Course runs alongside Runway 15/33, and although close to the action, you are faced with a double fence all the way down making photos extremely difficult! Best photo opportunites can be had with step ladders* of aircraft taxiing, touching down and rotating.

Using the directions provided below, on arrival to the perimeter fence, turn RIGHT which will lead you all the way down towards the old (disused) cross Runway 06/24 and the Monarch Hangar area.

The grassy (often muddy) path runs parallel with Runway 15/33 along the perimeter fence, keep walking down until you find your desired spot. You will notice that the ground level is much higher (behind the fence) in places than in others. Step ladders maybe required* for the professional photographers. This area can get extremely muddy (especially in the Winter months) so be prepared!

* When using step ladders… think security! Ensure that they are removed after and in between taking photos. Airport police and security strictly monitor the area and you maybe approached and challenged.

On Runway 15 operations, photograph aircraft touching down and blasting off down the Runway. With a good camera lense, you can also capture aircraft taxiing down ‘Taxiway Alpha’ (A) leading to the ‘Alpha One’ (A1) holding point.

On Runway 33 operations, you can photograph aircraft rotating, braking and turning off the Runway. Note that with the runway extension, a lot of aircraft now vacate early (by the fire station). Aircraft will now also rotate a lot earlier. So I recommend Runway 15 operations at this location.

If you fancy somewhere different, try Sheldon Country Park, this location is accessable from the golf course via several bridges and involves walking through some trees/bushes which finally links you up with the park.


(Picture: Steve Freeman)

Best Time To Go
Afternoons and evenings are by far the best at this location with the sunshine. This area can get extremely muddy in the Winter months, come prepared! Best time would be to visit in the Summer!


(Picture: Steve Freeman)

How Do I Access This Location
If you drive and have a sat nav, enter this postcode: B26 3SP.
Travelling from the airport, take the A45 (Coventry Road) Northbound following signs for Birmingham, at the 3rd set of traffic lights (high raised traffic lights) turn RIGHT onto ‘Sheaf Lane’.

Then take the 4th RIGHT exit onto ‘Cranes Park Road’. Continue to the very end when at the small cross road junction of ‘Mapledene Road’, drive straight on into a cul-de-sac and park up.

On foot, follow the grass area in front of you until you come to a small footpath, continue the walk (its a bit of a treck!) until you come to a small bridge which crosses a stream, cross the bridge then follow the path around to your right.

You are then alongside the perimeter fence at the starting point/touch down area of Runway 15. As you continue to walk down, you will find numerous locations to spot/photograph from, remember the double fence makes photo opportunities difficult! Keep walking until you have found your desired spot!


Perimeter fence
Walkway to/from Cranes Park Road
Walkway to/from Sheldon Country Park

Marston Green Train Station

Description & photo opportunities
Check out the pedestrian bridge (over the train line) at Marston Green Train Station! Using the directions below, once on the bridge you are left with fantastic views of the end of Runway 15, ‘Taxiway Alpha’ (A) and holding point ‘Alpha One’ (A1).

Photograph aircraft taxiing down, lining up, departing and landing on Runway 15. It is also possible to capture Runway 33 departures as they climb out. A highly recommended spot when on Runway 15 operations.

When on Runway 33 operations, other than aircraft climing out, most aircraft landing will turn off and vacate the runway early well before the bridge, especially with the recent runway extension. Not really worth visiting here unless they are on Runway 15.

Remember, your at the train station, with frequent trains it may become busy with other pedestrian’s. You may also be moved on by members of staff/security, so try not to spend too much time at this location. No parking charges apply. You’ll notice 2 bridges at the station, use the one with the steps.


(Picture: Ian Johnson)

Best Time To Go
First thing in the morning only when the light is fantastic, ideal for catching the morning rush on Runway 15 operations. Into the afternoon, you are looking into the sun. Highly recommended on Runway 15 operations.


(Picture: Ian Johnson)

How Do I Access This Location
If you drive and have a sat nav, enter this postcode: B37 7AF.
There are 2 approach roads which lead to Marston Green train station, ‘Station Road’ and ‘Holly Lane’ which both bring you to an island where the station is located.

On arrival, use the station car park provided (which is free of charge, 24/7). On entry into the station, use the bridge (with the steps)* as if you are crossing over to the adjacent platform – from this bridge you will be able to see the end of Runway 15! Your spotting can begin!

*There are 2 bridges, one for disabled access and one with steps (offering the views!), don’t go up the wrong one!

If you continue over the bridge, onto the adjacent platform and out at the exit, you will be able to access Sheldon Country Park which is located at the end of Runway 15.

Upon exiting the station, turn right onto the public footpath and follow it round until you reach the park. You can even access Hatchford Brook Golf Course if you continue to walk further down. Where the footpath branches off to the left, follow it round (the path stays close to the perimeter fence) until you have reached the golf course.

As above, you can also access the station/bridge from Sheldon Country Park. Follow the footpath (towards the East of the airfield) which will lead you towards the station.


(Picture: Steve Freeman)


Perimeter fence
The bridge to view from
Walkway to/from back entrance to Sheldon Country Park
Runway 15/33
Carpark & bus stop area
Station main entrance

The Footpath

Description & photo opportunities
Maybe not one of the best places to view and spot from but the footpath does offer some great views across the airfield and of the main International pier. This footpath runs parallel with the main perimeter fence and the train line, taking photos here are difficult as you are faced with 2 perimeter fences along with the sun positioned in front of you for much of the day.

For the best views and photo opportunities, try the bridge, continue to walk down the footpath until you come across the bridge on your right hand side which crosses the main train line. From here, you are much higher up, parallel with aircraft parked up on the 70’s stands and have clearer views of the overall airfield (including the 80’s stands) and the main terminal building and stands.

When ‘Taxiway Uniform’ (U) is in operation*, capture aircraft taxiing to/from the terminal up close along side the perimeter fence. Aircraft will often use this taxiway when other aircraft are using (or blocking) the main ‘Taxiway Victor’ (V).

*’Taxiway Uniform’ (U) is not always used depending on demand and aircraft stand usage.


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)

Best Time To Go
Only good first thing in the morning for photos where the sun is behind you, the sun soon moves around and is in your face for much of the day. But for general views, it is good all day watching airport activity. Better in the summer months as this area can get very muddy.


(Picture: Steve Freeman)

How Do I Access This Location
From outside the terminal building on foot, follow the road (Comet Road) out as if you are exiting the airport. Where the road bares round to the right at the junction of ‘Herald Road’, you will see a small wooden gate in front of you next to the train line and an advertisement billboard.

This is the entrance to ‘the footpath’ (note: this is a grassy path and can get muddy), upon entering, take a LEFT here and follow the path all the way down to the bottom. You will see the airport apron on your left after the entrance to the security staff gate. Continue to walk down the footpath until you reach the bridge on your right.

If you are driving, you can follow the signs for the ‘Short & Medium Stay 2 car park’ (multi-storey). The entrance to the car park is opposite the footpath just before the entrance to the security staff gate off ‘Ramp Road’. To get here, you must drive through the one-way system around the airport which passes the ‘Etap’ and ‘Ibis’ hotels. Then take a LEFT onto ‘Ramp Road’.

You can also walk to ‘the footpath’ from ‘Birmingham International train station’. After walking out of the station, turn RIGHT and follow the road to the end passing under a bridge with traffic lights. Turn RIGHT at the lights onto ‘Herald Road’ and continue to walk up to the top and at the junction of ‘Comet Road’ you will see the wooden gate on your right. Proceed through the gate and turn LEFT.


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)


Perimeter fence
The footpath to/from the terminal building
The Terminal
The bridge
The footpath to/from the train station
The train line

The International Pier

*only accessable with a boarding pass! Booking a flight is in order!

Description & photo opportunities
When Birmingham Airport opened up their brand new International Pier, it opened up a new spacious photogenic area with fantastic photo opportunties of aircraft parked up on stand and taxiing. Once you are on the pier, you are able to walk the full length (from Gates 57 down to 40) all the way down to the bottom which overlooks one of the main taxiways ‘Taxiways Delta/Echo’ (D/E) up close.

With a good camera zoom, you are also able to catch the latest action on the 70/80’s remote stands, most taxiways, Terminal 2, aircraft touching down/lining up onto Runway 33 and aircraft departing/rotating off Runway 15. The best spot in my opinion, is at the end (top right) behind Gate 42 and opposite 40 – in the corner where Emirates regularly parks (view photo below).


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)

How Do I Access This Location
First of all, you need a boarding pass! After clearing airport security, walk through duty-free and out into the main departure lounge, walk ahead and follow the signs for ‘Gates 40-68′ which will bring you out onto the main International Pier. Start your spotting!


(Picture: Mikey Lamb)


Perimeter fence
Walkway up/down the pier
The Footpath
Best recommended spot