Taranto Grottaglie Airport (TAR/LIBG) is 4km southwest of latter local city, but is named after its main city: Taranto, which is located roughly 15km northeast of this big city by the seaside. This airfield is mainly known for being the only airport in Europe being paid regular visit by Boeing’s famous Dreamlifter. The local company Alenia Aeronautica was able to agree on a contract between its subcompany Leonardo Industries and Boeing. The production site can be found in the west of the airfield, where parts of the B787’s fuselage are being produced and regularly picked up by the Dreamlifter: mostly 2-3 times a week on its routing Charleston (USA) – Taranto – Charleston (USA). There is no real system in the Boeing services, however this is the only regular connection to TAR. Except from these special aircraft visit, TAR also hosts a smaller firefighter aircraft base for Air Tractor AT-802F Fire Boss aircraft and the airfield is also home to a smaller military air base, where some fighter and helicopters of the Italian Navy are based. Thus you may also see some bigger military charter flights operated by transporter aircraft or the Italian air force during training flights here.
While the military (to be exact, the Italian navy) was the main operator, Taranto tried to establish civil flights in the 1960s, but after many problems, the last regular civil service was ceased in 2003. However, the Navy runs a helicopter base here for a while already and added fighters in the 1990s. The airport is thus a major military airfield, but was partly civilized once the local company Alenia Aeronautica was able to agree on a contract between its subcompany Leonardo Industries and Boeing. Since then, the airport serves as major production site as well and is about to establish as space airfield as well after ENAC picked TAR as future base for space flights – Virgin Galactic recently announced to be planing on operating science and tourism flights into the space from here.
Written by Julian Mittnacht in cooperation with Fabio Montanari. Last Update: Summer 2020
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|17/35||3200m x 45m – Asphalt|
|Ladder||Recommended at most spots in order to have a comfortable spotting session, however its usage is only recommended for a short time – don’t leave it up at all times!|
|Car/Public Transport||Car needed, no public transport connecting the spots here.|
|Restrooms||No facilities around.|
|Drinks/Food||Nearbest shops are in Grottaglie itsself.|
|Hotels||Non directly here, but plenty in the area. Some guests also complain about the fighter noise all the time.|
|Season||Summer has way more haze, therefore the firefighter planes moves more frequent. Winter has calmer weather with little haze, but therefore less movements. So there is not the one better season here…|
|Security||Spotting in Italy is tolerated in general, however military aircraft and buildings are not meant to be photographed. Thus, especially spot #6 and #7 are a bit tricky sometimes as you are quite close to the base and military zone. Keep a low profile at all times around the airport and don’t leave the ladder up at all time! Remember, there is an active military air base here, so spotting is not that easy!|
|General Info||Take care that most aircraft fly a round above the airfield prior arrival, mostly when 35 is in use. So they come from the north, cross the airport and get into the approach by doing a big halfcircle. So runway usage may be hard to see sometimes due to little traffic and such moves – most aircraft fly how they need/want to.|
|17/35||Single runway, handling all operations.|
|Spot #1 – Via Guglieimo Oberdan – 17 Arrivals + 35 Departures|
|WHERE||This spot is the northeast of the airport, just by the roadside of “Via Guglieimo Oberdan”. Get rid of your car in one of the nearby streets or by the roadside and then search your favourite position on one side of the runway axis around here depending on your favourite angle/view as well as the light.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 17 as well as heavy (Dreamlifter) departures on runway 35.|
|TIME||You can use this spot all day, as you can easily switch sides with the light by just walking along the street and thus crossing the runway’s axis.|
|MISC.||Nothing around, nothing needed. Take care not to block any streets with your car here and be careful as a pedestrian as many cars are fast here.|
|Spot #2 – Leonardo industrials – Dreamlifter apron|
|WHERE||This spot can be found south of the Leonardo production site and can either be accessed by car from the west or south as marked on the map via a long drive on the paved street. Make your way to the southern end of the Dreamlifter apron and once you are there, leave your car by the roadside and search your favourite position along the fence.|
|WHAT||This spot offers nice views onto the taxiway, which connect the Dreamlifter apron with the runway as well as onto the apron itsself, where the BCLF is parked during its stays.|
|TIME||Depends on when you shoot exactly. During taxi, the aircraft may turn into the light, thus the spot may also work outside the following hours, which are generally best for taxiway/stands:
later morning till afternoon
|MISC.||The street here is a bit bumpy at some parts and can turn into a big messy ride during rain, so we recommend not to come here with sports cars. Nothing around, no shops or restaurants.
Ladder recommended, if you want to shoot to the front (face-2-face) and the side as well as shooting thru the mesh is tricky here. So any picture outside the 90-degree angle requires a ladder, however keep it down as long as possible as we don’t wanna attract the attention of the company/Boeing – keep a low profile here.
Dreamlifter on parking position = 60mm
|Spot #3 – Leonardo industrials – 17/35 movements + Dreamlifter apron’s taxiway|
|WHERE||The location is a short hop from the previous spot at the corner of the runway and Dreamlifter apron’s taxiway. It can either be accessed by car from the previous spot or south as marked on the map via a long drive on the paved street. Make your way to the mentioned fence corner and once you are around here, leave your car by the roadside and search for your favourite position along the fence. You can either stand along the fence or on the mound just right in the corner of the fence – however, latter is a bit too far away from the fence in order to be able to shoot thru it and too small in order to be able to clear one’s view.|
|WHAT||This spot offers nice views onto all runway movements as well as onto the taxiway, which connect the Dreamlifter apron with the runway. You can also see parts of the military base on the other side, but it is mostly hazy and far away.|
|TIME||Depends on what you are here for:
Dreamlifter apron – runway taxiway = later morning till afternoon
Runway 17/35 = early afternoon till sunset
|MISC.||The street here is a bit bumpy at some parts and can turn into a big messy ride during rain, so we recommend not to come here with sports cars.
Ladder recommended, if you want to shoot to the front (face-2-face) and the side as well as shooting thru the mesh is tricky here. So any picture outside the 90-degree angle requires a ladder, however keep it down as long as possible as we don’t wanna attract the attention of the military base just on the other side or the production site next to you. Keep a low profile in general here.
Haze is an issue here. Nothing around, no shops or restaurants.
F900 on runway side on = 185mm / Dreamlifter on taxiway to Leonardo apron wideangle = 18mm / Dreamlifter touchdown spray = 145mm
|Spot #4 – Fields south – 35 Arrivals|
|WHERE||South of the airfield, there runs the high way SS7. In order to get to this spot, turn off this busy street onto the smaller dirt road running parelly at the south along the highway. It can be reached via three exits from the highway and it is thus easy to reach the road and thereby also the spot. Leave your car by the roadside and search your preferred position here depending on your favourite angle/view.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on runway 35 and maybe also heavy departures from runway 17.|
|TIME||Later noon till sunset.|
|MISC.||Nothing needed – nothing around, so no shops or restaurants.|
|Spot #5 – Roundabout – 17/35 movements|
|WHERE||East of the runway’s southern end is a bigger roundabout on highway SS7, whose western exit just leads to an apron gate and is a dead end road with no traffic. You can leave the car next to the get without blocking it and spot along the fence somewhere.|
|WHAT||Almost all runway 17/35 movements – light 35 arrivals/departures won’t be shootable here nicely.|
|TIME||Sunrise till early noon actually, but if an aircraft turns on the pad here, another time of the day may also work.|
|MISC.||Ladder recommended, if you want to shoot to the front (face-2-face) and the side as well as shooting thru the mesh is tricky here. So any picture outside the 90-degree angle requires a ladder, however keep it down as long as possible as we don’t wanna attract the attention of passing drivers. Keep a low profile in general here. Don’t block the gate with your car when parking!
Haze is an issue here. Nothing around, no shops or restaurants.
|FOCAL LENGTH||Should be around 50-250mm|
|Spot #6 – Curve apron gate – 17/35 movements|
|WHERE||North of spot #5, the highway SS7 still runs parallely to the runway 17/35, but just a few hundred meters south of the military base, it turns off to the east. Right in this curve, there is a little road/exit to the west leading to another apron gate. You can leave your car by the roadside of this exit here away from the gate here and spot along the fence somewhere behind some bushes, so drivers cannot see you.
There is also an abandoned house a bit north of the gate, but this is very hard to climb due to the surrounding bushes.
|WHAT||All movements on runway 17/35 can be seen here.|
|TIME||Sunrise till early noon.|
|MISC.||Ladder recommended, if you want to shoot to the front (face-2-face) and the side as well as shooting thru the mesh is tricky here. So any picture outside the 90-degree angle requires a ladder, however keep it down as long as possible as we don’t wanna attract the attention of the nearby military facilities. Keep a low profile in general here. Don’t block the gate with your car when parking!
Haze is a big issue here fast! Nothing around, no shops or restaurants.
Dreamlifter side on 90-degree = 60mm