Anchorage “Ted Stevens international airport” (ANC/PANC) is the biggest and main airport in Alaska (USA). It’s probably the heaven for cargo planes lovers but many companies operate regular passengers flights there. The airport is open around the clock but depending on the season, the light is only available during 3 or 4 hours. In summer, you can see many movements with “Everts Air” DC-6 and DC-9 freighters because of the salmon deliveries. ANC is a hub for various cargo companies, like UPS, FedEX, Korean Air Cargo, Cathay Pacific cargo, NAC Northern Air Cargo… This means that you will see many MD-11F, B747-400F and B747-8F at Ted Stevens international airport.
The usual passenger flights are operated by United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Air Canada, Icelandair and some others. The regional traffic is operated by small planes like Beech 1900D, DHC8-100 and Cessna C-208 Grand Caravan. FedEx also operates C-208 and ATR-42 for the regional mail delivery ! ANC is one of the only location where you can see rare aircraft like B737-200F (NAC), civilian C-130 Hercules (Lynden), DC-9F and DC-6F (Everts Air) operating many flights every day. The airport has 3 runways but not a lot of official spots.
Stored aircraft and ramps: we have marked some parked aircraft on the map, so please have a look on it for the exact location and what you can photograph. Furthermore you can try to get access on the ramps from Ryan Air, Ross Aviation, Everest, TransNorthern… just ask! Sometimes they let you in, sometimes not. Depends on the mood of the boss.
Wildfile around the airport: Always keep in mind that bears and elks/moose share exact the same aera where you doing your pictures from so be prepared. Never leave food lying around. Sit in the car with the doors closed, to eat. A bear can smell your sandwich 800m away and will not hesitate to come and ask you for a piece (or the same sandwich, with the risks involved). Listen if there is suspicious noises behind you. And take an overpowered mosquito spray because there are real monsters.
Last but not least don´t forget to visit the nearby Lake Hood, the worlds most busiest seaplane base.
Written by Remo Garone and Stefan Bratner (Updated 2019 by Martin Rogosz)
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|07L/25R||3’231m (10’600ft) Asphalt|
|07R/25L||3’780m (12’400ft) Asphalt / Concrete|
|15/33||3’531m (11’584ft) Asphalt|
|North Terminal||International flights|
|South Terminal (Concourse A,B,C)||Domestic flights|
|Ladder||A ladder is not absolutely necessary but 3 steps could help to avoid the top of the fences on your photos.|
|Car/Public Transport||A car is absolutely necessary for any location, if you don’t have a car it can be expensive with the taxi or dangerous because of savage animals in the area.|
|Restrooms||If a moose or a brown bear comes out of a wood, it’s better to have a car parked near you to refugee inside (at least). There are many restaurants and shops nearby every spotting location offering aplenty supply of food and drinks. Only the wood, to share with the bears!|
|Drinks/Food||Many snacks and restaurant at the airport and in the hotel’s area.|
|Hotels||There are many hotels around the airport. I have experienced the “Puffin Inn” and will give you information only about what i know ! I was completely satisfied by the “Puffin Inn” at Spenard road but it’s better to avoid the breakfast there. For the breakfast, better go to the 24h restaurant at “Village Inn” (see the map)Near the hotel you will find a gas station and a small restaurant called “Today’s Pizza”, where you can find fine pizzas and fabulous noodles with cream and chicken that I recommend. At the same location you will find a gas station and a “Subway” shop to buy drinks and picnic for the day.|
|Season||In winter it is almost all the time night. In June, the night never falls completely. It is day from 04:00 to about 23:00 so a lot of time for planespotting!
Here you can find a great tool to see sunrise and sunset.
|07L/25R||Landing and departures are operated on runway 7L. 25R almost never be in use.|
|07R/25L||Landing and departures are operated on runway 7R. 25L almost never be in use.|
|15/33||Used in all directions depending on the wind direction.|
|Spot #1 – South Airpark|
|WHERE||This spot is near the runway 07/25L and R. From the airport you have to take “West international airport road” and turn right at “Jewel Lake road”. Then drive approximately 2 miles and you will cross “Raspberry road”. Turn right again and drive 1,5 miles than you will see special hangars on the right. Turn right at the second road just in front of the hangars and drive to the end of the street. Park your car exactly at the on the left side of the road and climb up the hill. You are on an elevated mound and overlook the perimeter fence so no ladder is needed.|
|WHAT||All traffic on runways 07L and 07R (and technically also vice versa 25L/25R traffic, but this direction is rarely being used). Traffic taxiing for takeoff from runway 33.|
|TIME||In April and September from mid morning until early evening, in summer from around 10:00 to 18:00. During the summer months there is a good chance that you will be dealing with heat haze.|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby, bring what you need. Is it possible that airport staff calls the cops so be prepared for an ID check.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||50mm to 400mm|
|Spot #2 – Woronzof Park|
|WHERE||This is PANCs most popular spotting position. From the airport, take “Postmark road” to the end, then turn left on “Point Woronzof road”. This road parking even on a cliff with a beautiful view of the entrance of “Knik Arm” . It “Point Woronzof Park”. There is a big curve to the left up to the park entrance. You feel to be out of civilization, with a gate in front of you and a private road along the airport fence. Ignore the small path to the right and even if you are wondering while passing this portal, someone will shoot you, take this path anyway. Drive a few hundred meters and you will see a mound with a clearing on the right. You have arrived in paradise spotting. There are plenty of possibilites to take photos in different angels. So just walk around to find your prefered position.|
|WHAT||This spot is located along the tracks 15/33. From there, you miss everything that happens on 07/25 except what goes on the taxiway to the cargo. But there are a lot of movement at this spot. If 33 is in service there are only take off because everything is put in 07L or 07R for arrivals. If 15 is in service, all of the traffic will arrive and departure on this runway so you will get everything.|
|TIME||This place is good from 14:00 until 23:00 in summer and from 15 to about 20 hours in the fall or early spring|
|MISC.||Bring with you what you need, no toilets, no food, no drinks. There soem rules to be observed at this location. 1) Spotters are tolerated but the grid is closed to 23h and the Police does not have to come to dislodge us! Therefore leaving the scene later at 22:59 2) NEVER park your car on the side of the perimeter fence. Park the car right at the foot of the small hill where you stay because it is absolutely forbidden to park on mesh side|
|Spot #3 – Fuel Tanks|
|WHERE||Follow the same directions as for spot #2, just continue further along the road until you see some bright yellow-orange colored barriers in front of you and the road takes a sharp right turn. Park your vehicle on the side of the road facing away from the airport, don’t block the access to the gates! Not necessarily needed – as the road is already elevated above the airport fence – but it is possible to stand on the concrete barriers.|
|WHAT||All traffic on runway 33 as well as taxiway Victor.|
|TIME||Good from mid afternoon until sunset.|
|MISC.||Nothing near by, bring what you need. Don’t go near the gate, stay by the concrete barriers. BE AWARE OF WILDLIFE!|
|Spot #4 – Northern Cargo Hill|
|WHERE||Use the same direction as for spot #2, the Woronzof Park. When you have reached the approach of RWY14 park your car on the shoulder. Than cross the street and take the small path between the perimeter fence to your right and the forrest to your left. After 300-400m into you have reached your elevated position.
You can stay at the main road too and make photos from there if you don´t wanna walk. There is a small hill where you can climb up to shot over the fence for rotating heavies on RWY33.
|WHAT||Perfect place if RWY15 is active for departures and arrivals. Heavy departures on RWY33 are possible too.
Some planes that rolling to/from the cargo ramps, but usually backlit.
|TIME||From sunrise till noon.|
|MISC.||Bring with you what you need, no toilets, no food, no drinks. Don´t stay to close to the forrest to avoid a meeting with the wild animals.|
Arrival: 748=60mm; 737 = 150mm
|Spot #5 – Kincaid Park – 07 arrivals|
|WHERE||This spot is everything else than easy to reach on not the best place if you don´t wanna meet some wild animals. Your trip starts at the Kincaid Park, a popular place for locals to relax, go running or hiking. From spot #1 continue westwards along the Rasperry Rd for a few kilometers until the end. You will reach some kind of sport complex with a huge parking lot. Now you have to walk for at least 20-25 minutes like its drawn on the map. Walk the way down to the northernmost sport field and turn 2 second way right into the forrest for just a few meters than is the next intersection, take the way slightly left. Than you have to walk a while until the next intersection, there turn right and follow the way. Last meters to the flat area a bit diffiult to find, have always a look to the arriving aircrafts watch on the right side of the path if you can see a hill, if yes walk up this hill and you are on a flat area directly at the treshold of 07R. If you are not sure how to get there contact a local spotter in advance for guidance. The Gate to Kincaid Park will open at 09:00h in the morning.|
|WHAT||Arrivals on RWY 07L/R only.|
|TIME||From 09:00 to about 14:00h or 16:00h (Summer) depending on season.|
|MISC.||Bring with you what you need, no toilets, no food, no drinks. Respect the wildlife rules as stated on the beginning of the guide. Be careful of bears and elks/moose, especially when elks/moose have offspring.
+++If you are not familiar with the enviroment, stay away from this location or ask a local spotter to escort you.+++
|Spot #6 – Woronzof Rd – RWY15/33 and Airport Overview|
|WHERE||This is PANCs most popular spotting position. From the airport, take “Postmark road” to the end, then turn left on “Point Woronzof road”. This road parking even on a cliff with a beautiful view of the entrance of “Knik Arm” . It “Point Woronzof Park”. There is a big curve to the left up to the park entrance. You feel to be out of civilization, with a gate in front of you and a private road along the airport fence. Ignore the small path to the right and even if you are wondering while passing this portal, someone will shoot you, take this path anyway. Drive 700 meters and you will see on top of a hill a antenna on left side, next to the antenna is a parking and viewing area.|
|WHAT||Everything on Runway 15/33 and paralel Taxiways|
|TIME||This place is good from 15:00 until 23:00 in summer and from 16 to about 20 hours in the fall or early spring|
|MISC.||Parking is no problem here. Bring with you what you need, no toilets, no food, no drinks. Respect the wildlife rules as stated on the beginning of the guide.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Depending where the aircraft is: 50-350mm|
Just a note of warning for those planning to plane spot at location #1. Visited today to plane spot and had the cops called on me by airport staff. The viewing spot is right on the perimeter of the airport fence and the security is very tight. The officer mentioned that they get calls frequently of plane spotters in the area, so just be prepared! Nonetheless, location #1 is a great spot for viewing takeoffs and landings of the various domestic flights and international cargo flights.
Okay pretty weird that airport security called the cops because this is a popular spot for years. But thanks for sharing your experience.
Hi Guys, is there any spot opposite the spot 5 ? Is it possible to walk to the other side along the fence? Thanks.
Hello: I just found out that I will be in Anchorage during the last week of September…Will I have decent spotting opportunities, or will I be experiencing the beginnings of the winter darkness? Thanks a lot!
Hi, have a look here with the exact sunrise/sunset times.
Thanks for the reply…What are the best times for the heavier freighter landings: morning or evening?
Any of those are great it’s almost constantly busy
Hello the ANC spotter community. I am a Cargolux pilot, I actually landed in ANC on the 02Jan 2022 at 1540 local time with a Boeing 747-8. Since it was quite gusty I am looking for picture or video of that interesting landing. Could you kindly check if you would know a spotter that was there that day. Many thanks for your help. Happy spotting year 2022.
Any locals that I can get in contact with about spotting at ANC
Yeah I live in anchorage
Am I able to reach out to you about locations to spot at ? I really want to safely find #5. I will be in Anchorage to do aviation photography between the 1st of September to the 8th of September! 🌞
Yeah of course
Ok , this is very kind of you to do so! Now what is the best way to connect with you so we can discuss arrangements? 🌞
As a experienced plane spotted if you want to log Alaska Airlines planes inside the terminal there is a observation deck that is right above the c gates also visible are the cargo planes that sit its a wonderful place
Zachary – please refresh my memory – is this before or after the TSA security checkpoint?
It’s right after the security checkpoint close to the Charlie concourse right above the gates there is a escalator I believe to get up there you can see all take offs
A novice question, what is the best budget cam for plane spotting?
Is this what you mean by Spot 1?
Which runway is most commonly in use (percentage)?eg. 20% 07L/07R and 80% 15/33.
I think its normally (if light winds) 07’s for arrivals and runway 33 for departures. (regional aircraft will sometimes depart on runway 07 due to shorter taxi). The coast Inn would be a decent spot to catch 07 departures in the afternoon.
Any recent experiences with Spot 5, Good or Bad?
When you have the perfect location then it can be a wonerful spot as you have some mountains in the back and planes are relatively close (for heat haze).
But the spot is hard to find and hard to get there. I was not able to find it even after a 30min walk. Also you should be equipped with a weapon or a bear spray.
No problem finding spotter 5. Would take 20-25 min walking from parking lot. Use Google Maps.
As mentioned, people use this park for hiking, running, bicycling etc, so it is absolutely safe to walk. Had no problems with wild animals. Bringing weapon or bear spray is an aboslute overreaction. Respect the animals, if encountered, if not, have fun!