Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) has an observation park near the air traffic control tower. Amenities include an elevated observation platform, audio of communication between pilots and the tower, a picnic area, educational placards and a play area.
And Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has an observating viewing area known as Founder’s Plaza.
In addition to offering great view of aircraft taking off and landing, the plaza has picnic tables, telescopes, historic information, a commemorative monument and a radio that broadcasts air traffic control communications from the FAA tower.
Which observation viewing areas near airports would you like to add to this list? Bonus for a photo!
The images, many as large as 6 feet by 6 feet, are courtesy of photographer, graphic designer, architect and licensed pilot Jeffrey Milstein, who captured many of the images by standing at the end of a runway at Los Angeles International Airport and photographing planes from underneath as they came in to land.
“It’s like shooting a moving duck,” said Milstein. “The planes are moving so fast, and I have only a hundredth of a second to get my shot. I have to keep the camera moving with the plane and then fire the shot exactly at the top dead center. It took a lot of practice.”
At times, it also took some negotiation.
“One of the problems if you’re hanging around an airport with a camera a lot of times is that the authorities get a bit antsy,” said Milstein. “Especially since 9/11. When I first started going out to the airport, the police would sometimes converge on me with up to six cars at once. Now they know me because I’ve been out there so much.”
Milstein’s practice and perseverance have paid off. Using a high-end professional camera that Milstein said costs “as much as an SUV,” the photographer was able to get images that reveal the mechanics, rivets and other details of an airplane’s underbelly. “With Photoshop, I remove the sky background so that the airplanes become just floating objects. As far as the colors, I don’t fake anything, but I might clarify to increase the contrast or bring out the detail,” said Milstein.
“There are a lot of amateurs out there photographing planes,” said exhibition curator Carolyn Russo, a museum specialist and photographer. “But what Milstein ends up with are really crisp, clean, beautiful color images that transform the planes into art and are unlike any other photographs of aircraft. We’ve compared them to an array of pinned butterflies.”
Alaska Airlines Salmon Thirty Salmon Boeing 737-400
Among the images on display, Milstein has a few favorites, including a red Southwest Airlines Boeing 737, an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 that’s “just silver, and just really beautiful,” the helicopters and some of the planes he’s photographed from the side that sport pictures, such as Alaska Airline’s Boeing 737-400 Salmon-Thirty-Salmon plane.
Alaska Airlines Disney Boeing 737-400
“AirCraft: The Jet as Art” will remain on display until Nov. 25, 2012, at the National Air and Space Museum.
(A slightly different version of this story appeared on msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin)
Photographs courtesy Jeffrey Milstein/Smithsonian Museum
Los Angeles International Airport is hosting a Sunday Morning Coffee for plane spotters, aviation enthusiasts and the general public on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19, 2011 on the Observation Deck at the top of the iconic Theme Building. The recently refurbished deck has a 360-degree view of LAX’s terminals and airfield, with telescopes for free viewing.
If you plan to attend, go early. The first 300 people (over 12 years old) will get a special commemorative coin. There will also be a free raffle for a die-cast scale model of the new Singapore Airlines A380 super jumbo jet that begins LAX service July 1.
Can’t attend this Sunday’s coffee event? You can go another time: the Theme Building Observation Deck is open Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It’s been a while since I gave up my membership in the United Red Carpet Club. But very frequent traveler Joel Horn insists the price of admission is worth it if only because there are sights like this to be seen out the window of the Red Carpet Club room on Concourse C at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
What do you think? I do have a birthday coming up….