SOUTHERN FLORIDA SPOTTING TITLE IMAGE 8861 By: Scott Jankowski Southern Florida is a perfect place to escape the snow and cold of the Late Midwest Winter for Sun and warmth. Southern Florida also offers up several Airports and Prime locations in which to spot from. It is for these reasons that the next 4 articles will focus on spotting locations and photography from Fort Lauderdale International (KFLL) and Miami International Airports (KMIA). This first article will focus on Fort Lauderdale, specifically the spotting location on the 7th floor of the Hibiscus Parking Garage. The Broward County Aviation Authority has even designated the West Side as an “official” spotting area and has even marked it as such.
While the focus of this article is on this location only, Fort Lauderdale International has two other “officially” recognized spotting locations as well. These would be the Ron Gardner Viewing area, located at the West end of Runway 10 Left. Ron Gardner is a long time Employee of the Broward County Aviation Department and major Supporter of the Airport. The other area is the Greenbelt Viewing Area located along the Southern side of Runway 10 Right. This location has several spots complete with Shade Trees and benches in which to enjoy the arrivals and departures. The premier location however is the Hibiscus Garage which has a commanding view of both runways and the associated ramps. You can easily spot and photograph all movements on either runway.
You will obviously need to pay for parking if you have an automobile, but once you see the view the small fee will be well worth it. The Broward County Airport Authority has provided Concrete Benches all along this side of the garage which also give you some additional elevation to aid in photography. You will not find much in the way of shade up here, but the Terminal is a short walk away. The Sun Angle is perfect just about the entire day, but heat haze can be an issue if shooting distant aircraft. In order to capture the majority of the traffic I suggest a 100-400mm lens. If you want to capture traffic inbound or outbound for the Delta, Air Canada Rouge, Westjet, Alaska, United and Silver gates you will need to go down to a 50-75mm lens for a full frame shot. You will have an unobstructed view of the Embraer Hanger from the Garage as well as the FBO’s and the Bombardier Facility are bit more distant. You will be able to very easily move from one side to the other in order to capture all traffic. The most predominant type of aircraft to be seen are Airbus 319,320,321 types followed by the 737- 600,700,800,900 series.
Fort Lauderdale was originally established as Merle Fogg Field in May of 1929. Merle Fogg was a World War One Aviator who opened his own Flying Service. In 1942 Fort Lauderdale became a Naval Air Station, the 41st President George H.W. Bush took his Flight Training here. NAS Fort Lauderdale is famous as this was the location that Flight 19 departed from. Flight 19 was the 5 TBM Avengers that disappeared in 1945 in the Bermuda Triangle. In 1946 Broward County officially took control of the Airport and renamed it Broward County International Airport. Mackey Airlines commenced the first Airline service in 1953 with flights to Nassau. In 1958 National and Northeast began Domestic Service with flights to New York Idlewild and Washington D.C. In 1959 the name was officially changed to Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. 1961 ushered in the Jetage with Northeast operating flights with the Convair 880. Continuous growth and expansion followed, in 1999 Spirit Airlines moved its Headquarters to Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale is served by all major Domestic Airlines such as Delta and United. Low Cost Carriers have flocked to Fort Lauderdale with Southwest, Jetblue and Spirit all having a major presence in fact they control almost 62% of the market share. Canadian Low Cost Carriers are well represented by the likes of Air Canada Rouge, Air Transat, and Westjet. Fort Lauderdale International is a short 5 miles from Port Everglades and the Cruise Ship Docks making this the prime Airport for those looking to escape Winter in the Northern Climates. Fort Lauderdale has its share of exotic International Carriers too, Azul of Brazil and Tame of Ecuador both serve the city. The Bahamas lie 45 Minutes Flying Time to the East of Fort Lauderdale making it a prime destination for Air Taxi Operators like Sky Bahamas and Tropic Ocean Airlines providing many flights a day. Air Cargo plays a vital part as well, with Airlines as big as FedEx offering service and the much smaller GB Airlink with Skyvan’s and Beech Turboliners. Fort Lauderdale has Nonstop service to over 140 destinations worldwide with a little over 29 Million People flying to and from last year.
Fort Lauderdale’s 4 terminals with 59 gates, and 4 Fixed Base operators saw a little over 27,000 aircraft movements in January 2017. Fort Lauderdale has 2 runways 10L/28R and 10R/28L with the 10’s most commonly used. Fort Lauderdale see’s quite a bit of Business Jet and Prop Traffic with both Embraer and Bombardier having extensive facilities on the airport. Fort Lauderdale continues to grow both in terms of Traffic and Passengers, to accommodate this growth all four terminals are being renovated and expanded. I highly recommend Fort Lauderdale to any enthusiast for an fantastic mix of traffic. Next we are heading 30 or so Miles to the South to visit another one of the Best Airports for spotting in the World, Miami International Airport. The next article will focus on the first of three spotting locations known all over the World as the “Holes” Until next time, “Blue Skies to All.”