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Birmingham (BHX)

The UK's second largest city doesn't have its second busiest airport, although Birmingham has come a long way in recent years, and a visit can be very productive. As well as the usual schedules (lots of 'regional' European stuff), there are a fair number of charters in the summer, almost daily freight flights from the US in connection with the local Ford/Jaguar car factories, and it's also one of the only places in the UK where you can see the BA/Maersk fleet.
Mornings tend to be the busiest time, and weekdays are definitely busier than weekends.

Luckily, Birmingham is one of the few remaining airports in the UK where the authorities have made any special provision for visitors and enthusiasts, meaning that it's possible to get plenty of good photos here.
Following the sun around in a clockwise direction, suitable locations are as follows:

a) There is an enclosed spectators viewing area on the top floor of the main terminal, with a cafe, shop, and various information about the airport. Although the overall view is now a bit limited due to the expansion work, some reasonable photos can be obtained through the windows.

F-GPVC
F-GPVC
Air Liberte DC-10

b) Probably the best place for photography is the dedicated viewing area located around to the right of the terminals as you exit. This consists of a large grassy bank, with benches and usually a snack bar provided. This overlooks the BA Eurohub terminal, and, if RWY 33 is in use, all other flights will also taxi past this point. Its main drawback comes from the presence of a very high chain link fence. This doesn't mean that you can't take good photos from here, but a tall stepladder will make things much easier. Perhaps the authorities could provide a few official 'photo holes' at strategic points, such as they do at places like Tokyo? Good until early afternoon.

N58101 EI-CNY G-MSKD G-MSKN EI-FKA
N58101
Continental Boeing 757
EI-CNY
Ryanair Boeing 737
G-MSKD
British Airways Boeing 737
G-MSKN
British Airways CRJ
EI-FKA
Aer Lingus Fokker 50

c) Although it is possible to get reasonable RWY 33 landing shots from the viewing area, particularly if you've got a ladder, these are probably best taken from the long-stay car park, just a short distance further round. The sun is OK here until about midday.

F-GRSE F-GSUN CS-TEB EC-GHM I-DUPE
F-GRSE
Star Airlines A320
F-GSUN
Corsair Boeing 747
CS-TEB
Air Luxor L1011
EC-GHM
Air Europa Boeing 767
I-DUPE
Alitalia MD-11

d) To get any decent shots in the afternoon you'll need to go right round to the other side of the airport. Shortly before you get to the old terminal on the A45, there's a minor road leading to a crash gate (DON'T park here). Just next to the crash gate on the right there's a large field, from where you can get great landing and take-off shots on RWY 33. Suitable from early afternoon until dusk.

F-GKTA EI-CRD N605GC G-MSKC D-AHFK
F-GKTA
Air One Boeing 737
EI-CRD
Eurofly Boeing 767
N605GC
Gemini Air Cargo DC-10F
G-MSKC
British Airways Boeing 737
D-AHFK
Hapag Lloyd Boeing 737

e) General aviation and cargo flights now all use the old terminal area, and you may be able to get some shots from here. Opportunities really depend on where anything is parked, but if you're there when such flights are moving you should be OK.

I-AVJE D-IHHS I-LIAC
I-AVJE
Learjet 25
D-IHHS
Cessna 525
I-LIAC
Falcon 20

f) If RWY 15 is in use, things are much more difficult, although there is a footpath further round from the old terminal which follows the perimeter fence around by a golf course, and ends up quite close to the runway. A ladder will probably be necessary here.

Wrecks and Relics

G-AWZZ
G-AWZZ
Trident 3
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Visited on 19 May 1999 Top of page
 
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Maps

Click on the icons below to see various maps and images relating to Birmingham airport. Note that, except for the aerial photograph, these are all external links to other sites, and will open in a new window.

BHX Map   Street Map   Area Map   Aerial Photo
Official CAA Birmingham airport map

Courtesy of: NATS Ltd.

Note that you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (v4.0 or later) installed in order to view this.
Click here to download this from the Adobe site if you need it.

  OS street map of the Birmingham airport area

Courtesy of:
Streetmap.co.uk

  General map of the Birmingham area

Courtesy of:
Maps by Expedia.com Travel
maps.expedia.com

  Aerial photograph of Birmingham airport

Courtesy of:
Streetmap.co.uk

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Links

Birmingham International Airport (official)
Very comprehensive site, with just about everything you could want to know (airline details, flights/timetable/arrivals info, facilities, transport, useful links etc.). Looks nice, too, but the navigation could be a lot better and simpler - often have to click through an excessive amount of layers to get to the information you want.

The Real Birmingham Airport Enthusiast Website
Lots of very useful info about Birmingham here - news, full timetables, spotting locations (including a map), frequencies, selected movements, lots of very nice photos, and a brief history of the airport. Nice simple layout, too.

AvInfo
Very nice page with a lot of useful information. Focused mainly on Birmingham, with general airport info (although much of this is probably more useful to passengers/general visitors than enthusiasts), a photo section and a listing (most with photos) of the BA fleets based at Birmingham.
The rest of the site consists of a very comprehensive collection of links to worldwide airline and airport homepages, a huge listing of IATA/ICAO airline/airport codes (unfortunately searchable only by code and not by name), a large photo gallery (mostly taken at Birmingham, Manchester or Heathrow, and generally fairly good quality), and a 'UK Airport Guide', with enthusiast information contributed by various people about a number of airports around the UK (some extremely useful, others less so).

Birmingham Airport Movements
Very comprehensive movements info. Also a residents list, rumours section and brief spotting details, as well as easy to use timetables (although these only contain foreign flights, ie. no British or Irish).

The History of Birmingham Airport
Could be a good site, with some quite interesting details. As it is, however, the whole thing seems to be just a haphazard jumble of information, without any real logic behind its creation. And what happened after 1973?! Disappointing.

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