Miami Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

Miami, the gateway to South America, handeld 40,9 Mio. passengers in 2014. Its one of the best spotting airports on this planet. You get a great variety of international carriers, mainly from Europe and South/Middle America as well as a many different cargo operators. American Airlines has a big hub here and is responsible for most traffic. If you want to escape the cold European winter, Miami offers everything you will need. Sun, ocean, planes…. and the girls at Miami Beach.

Almost all know operators from South and Middle America serving Miami from their hubs. LATAM Group, Avianca, COPA, Aerolíneas Argentinas or Aeroméxico as well as operators from the Caribbean Sea like Aruba Air, Bahamas Air, Caribbean Airlines just to mention a few.
Furthermore plenty of cargo airlines from all over the world, operating out of Miami with flights mainly to the southern hemisphere. In addition to the airlines cargo from Latin America there are Amerijet Initernation, Centurion Air Cargo, Florida West International Airways, IBC Airways, UPS and FedEx using Miami frequently.

Written by Julian Mittnacht, Jan Seba & Gary Culpan / Last Visit Nov 2016

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information  Runways 08L/26R (north side) 08R/26L (north side)
2.621 m (8.600 ft) 3.202 m (10.506 ft)
9/27 (south side) 12/30
3.962 m (13.000 ft) 2.851 m (9.354 ft)
Terminals North Terminal Central Terminal South Terminal
American Airlines and Eagle Intl. carriers StarAlliance&SkyTeam
Spotting Information Ladder not needed
Car recommend
Restrooms tagged on the map, next to spot #3
Drinks/Food tagged on the map, next to spot #3
Hotels there are cheap hotels all around the airport
Season try to avoid the summer month. You will be confronted with heavy rainshowers and high temperatures. Best climate is in the winter.
Runway Usage  08L/26R used for departures and arrivals in both directions (08 is more in use than 26). Prefered runway for Centurion Cargo, Atlas Air, UPS, FedEx, IBC as their facilities located at the north of the airport.
08R/26L used for departures and arrivals in both directions (08 is more in use than 26). Prefered runway for Centurion Cargo, Atlas Air, UPS, FedEx as their facilities located at the north of the airport.
09/27 used for departures and arrivals in both directions, mainly by South American carriers and cargo airlines based in the southern cargo terminal (e.g. Atlas, Avianca, LAN Cargo, China Airlines, Amerijet) (09 is more in use than 27)
12/30 used for departures and arrivals in both directions.  RWY 30 is preferred landing direction for flights from South America and Amerijet.
RWY 12 in use parallel to RWY 08 and 09.
RWY 30 in use parallel to RWY 26 and 27.

Spot #1 – The Holes – 12 departures and arrivals, 08R/08L arrivals and departures
WHERE This is the only official spotting location in Miami next to the cargo area. When you drive northwards on the 826N/Palmetto Expy, take the exit NW 25 St. Turn right into the NW 25 St and drive eastwards. Towards 500 meters you will see the perimeter fence and some holes in it on the left. This is the spot to be. Park your car just next to it, in the 64th Ave under the trees (tagged on the map).
WHAT As the name says, there are some big holes in the airport perimeter fence. You get all 08 action at this spot, as well as the 12 departures and arrivals. The planes are pretty close when 12 is in use for landings and its a little bit tricky to catch them threw the hole. Departures are much easier and you can make great close up shots!
TIME For RWY08 its almost an all day spot. Only in the summer you get backlit in the late afternoon. RWY12 starts to become interesting from the late morning hours.
MISCELLANEOUS There are no facilities at this location and no shadow.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-200 mm


Spot #2 – Cargo Ramp – 09 arrivals and departures, ramp action
WHERE This spot isn’t official as its on the roof parking of some cargo companies. Its just a puddle jump from spot #1. Drive back the NW 25 St and take the second left into the NW 67th Ave. Follow the road until you reach the intersection to NW 22 St. Cross the road and drive up a ramp that leads to the visitor parking on top of the cargo buildings. Please keep in mind that this is private property and you should be careful in what you are doing!
WHAT This is only good to overlook the western cargo ramp and make pictures from the parked aircrafts. Centurion, Martinair, Tampa Cargo are some of the operators there. 09 arrivals should be possible too, but most time of the day you will face the sun.
TIME Its difficult to shot 09 as you will face the sun almost the whole day. Only in the early morning/evening you get some pretty nice pictures.
MISCELLANEOUS This is visitor parking so you shouldn’t be bothered. But again, this is private property and you should be careful. Just take the pictures of the cargo planes and than move back. Don’t walk around for a long time and stay in your car.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-200 mm
Spot #3 – El Dorado – 09 arrivals and departures
WHERE The best spot for all the 09 action is the ‘El Dorado’ , named after the furniture store next to it. When you start at the hole, drive back the NW 25 St until you will cross the NW 72nd Ave. Turn left and follow the road for 2 km. You will pass the threshold of 09 on your left and come to the next intersection. Here you turn left into the NW 12th St and again take the next left into the NW 72nd Ave (you see the furniture store at the intersection). Just follow the road until you reach some railroads. Park your car at the end of the road.
WHAT Once arrived, you have a great overlook of the threshold of 09. You get all 09 arrivals and departures from this spot. All arrivals from South America will use 09, as they are closer to their terminal. Cargo flights use it too, for arrivals and departures, as parts of the cargo area almost next to 09 (Avianca, Atlas, LAN). The perimeter fence is disturbing if you wanna make departure shots. There is a rock where you can climb up or use the roof of your rental car to avoid the fence in your pictures. Its also possible to shot trough the mesh.
TIME The spot is okay for most time of the day. Only in the summer you get backlit in the late afternoon.
MISCELLANEOUS A gas station and 7 Eleven is just across the intersection (tagged on the map)
FOCAL LENGTH 50-200 mm

Spot #4 – Blue Lagoon/Hilton Hotel – RWY 30&27 arrivals
WHERE The upper floor rooms of Miami Airport Hilton hotel commands fantastic views over runway 30 arrivals and runway 27 departures and aircraft taxiing for departure. Ask for a room at the north-eastern  corner of the hotel. More informations can be found here.
WHAT Great for runway 30 arrivals and runway 27 departures and taxi shots. You can also get good quality overall views of the stands where some of the South American carriers like Avianca and TACA are parked. You can also shot from the hotel garden/lagoon but only RWY 30 arrivals (see DHL 757 below).
TIME Light is good for most of the day. Only in the summer you get backlit in the late afternoon.
MISCELLANEOUS Facilities in the hotel.
FOCAL LENGTH 250-400 mm are needed as the views are quite distant. Some cropping is required to get full frame shots of smaller aircraft.

View from the hotel room/balcony

View from outside to the north/eastern corner where you can see the rooms with balcony

View from the hotel garden where you have a view over the lagoon.

Spot #5 – Railroad Track- 27&30 arrivals
WHERE The spot is located next to some railroad tracks clos to the 94th Aero Squadron Restaurant. From spot #3 just follow the NW 12th street eastwards for a few minutes unitl you can see the restaurant on your right hand side. Park your car at the restaurant and walk eastwards along the tracks for approximate 500 meters. There you are!
WHAT You get all arrivals on runways 27 & 30. This takes place on western winds. Flights from South America prefer RWY30 whilst the cargo operators use RWY27. There can be parts of the perimeter fence at buttom of your pictures from the RWY27 arrivals, especially whilst photographing the heavies. Furthermore heat haze is an issue here due to the cars on the  Dolphin Expressway next to the spot.
TIME For RWY 27 Light is good for most of the day. Only in the summer you get backlit in the late afternoon. At noon, the light for RWY 30 starts to be perfect.
MISCELLANEOUS Its possible that you get asked by the police to leave this location as you are very close to the railroad tracks (even if there are almost no movements) and a busy road.
FOCAL LENGTH 50-150mm for both runways

We don´t have any samples available yet. Don´t hesitate to contact if you have pics from this location.

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3 thoughts on “Miami Intl. Airport Spotting Guide

  1. Simon Bernstein

    Couldn’t agree with you more regarding Miami International. Always busy, lots of action. Back in the day 30 years and back it was amazing. The era of the wide body jumbos, Eastern Airlines and original generation one passenger jets! 707’s, DC-8’s and even Convairs. Their were even some prop and turbo prop classics like the Electra! Question if anyone can answer. It seems when landing you come in over and from the Everglades and on departures head East over the beach and over the ocean. Is my assumption correct on this?

    1. Paula Stevens

      The prevailing wind is usually from the east. Therefore you land into it (from the Everglades) and take off into it (over the beach.) When the wind is from the west you land over the beach and take off over the Everglades.

  2. Victor

    I have a few pictures from Spot #5, even though I find that the fence at this location can be quite disturbing, in addition to heat haze.

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