Kansas City International Aiport (MCI/KMCI) is located 25km northwest of Kansas City itself. As parts of the city as well, the airport is not located in Kansas, but in Missouri, where it belongs to one of the biggest airfields together with St. Louis – while latter is located at Missouri’s eastern border, Kansas City can be found at the state’s western border. The airport was built after the great flood in 1951 destroyed parts of Kansas City’s former major airport close to the Missouri River. Suddenly, the airfield was opened in 1956 and has always been under civil usage as Kansas City’s former airport was then given to the US Air Force. First, the airport was named after the carrier Mid-Continent although it merged with Braniff in 1952 already – this is, why the code is MCI: Mid-Continent International. In 1972 the airport was renamed into Kansas City International, but kept its code. In the later years of the 20th century, the airport became TWA’s airport of the future. Many design were driven by the American carrier, who tried out various concepts and models at MCI. Thus, TWA was very important to the airport, which still can be seen as the airport is just about allegedly to repaint a preserved L1011 into original TWA colors – find out more HERE.
Today, Braniff, Mid-Continent, TWA and co. are all gone. The airport is thus mainly served by the common American carriers: United, Southwest, Delta, American, … In addition, MCI also sees the middle large US airlines a lot: Frontier, Spirit, Allegiant and Alaska. Last but not least, MCI also hosts cargo facilities being used by FedEx, UPS and similar. However, the most interesting traffic here are the aircraft arriving for scrapping or maintenance. Some example of the last years were Zimbabwe Airways or Kenya Airways B772 as well as Avianca F100.
There is a lot of unique traffic in and out of MCI due to the hangar facilities, also with occasional military aircraft doing low fly-bys or touch ‘n’ goes due to the proximity from the Rosecrans Air National Guard Base (KSTJ), Whiteman Air Force Base (KSZL), McConnell Air Force Base (KIAB), and Offutt Air Force Base (KOFF), from my personal experience.
Written by Severin Hackenberger in cooperation with Mason J.M. and Brad T. Last Update: 2021
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| (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
|01L/19R||10801ft – asphalt|
|01R/19L||9500ft – concrete|
|09/27||9501ft – asphalt|
|Terminal A||Torn down. A new, bigger terminal is built there and is about to be finished in 2023, allowing the airport to merge all terminalparts into one big facility.|
|Terminal B||Southwest and Delta|
|Terminal C||American, Spirit, Alaska, Allegiant, United and Frontier|
|Ladder||Ladders not required at any location!|
|Car/Public Transport||A personal vehicle is necessary to reach all locations. Public transport is poor around the spots.|
|Drinks/Food||Fast food is available within 5-10 minutes either off airport property or inside the terminals. Sit-down dining is available within 15 minutes off of airport premises.|
|Hotels||Lodging is available on airport property or within a 5 minute drive.|
|Season||Summers can get extremely toasty and heat haze tends to be an issue. Winters are much better visually but not with temperature.|
|Security||Airport police is constantly patrolling the area in and around the airport. PERMISSION IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED FOR SPOTTING – therefore contact either the Kansas City Aviation Department at 816-243-3000 or their website or by contacting Airport Police at 816-243-4000 in advance to let them know generally where and when you will be at. They pretty much will leave you alone if you do this if you give them advance notice, especially from the spotting locations described above.
|General Info||Runway usage typically depends on the airline and their terminal position.|
|01L/19R||Typically used by Delta, Southwest, Prime Air, FedEx, UPS, and Kalitta Charters. +++ Closed till NOV 2021 due to resurfacing +++|
|01R/19L||Most commonly used by the remaining airlines; American, Allegiant, and occasionally Delta, Southwest, United, spirit, and others.|
|09/27||Rarely used except with strong westerly winds. when these are in use, all airlines use them.|
|Spot #1 – Rental Car Return – 01R/19L Movements|
Follow the “Car Rental RETURN” signs and look out the Hertz station. Once passed, the roads bends left into Madrid Ave. Now you will see a parking lot on the left hand side. Park there and start spotting. The area is slightly elevated so you can photograph the movements over the fence.
|WHAT||This location is good for direct observation of all movements (arrivals and departures) on runway 01R/19L.|
|TIME||Later noon till sunset.|
|MISC.||STAY AWAY FROM THE FENCE, REMAIN IN THE PARKING LOT. Police will otherwise come and visit you directly. But as long as you remain in this parking lot and do nothing else, you should be uninterrupted. Anything you might need can be found in the terminal southwest of the spot.|
A321 = 150mm
|Spot #2 – NW Roanridge Rd – 01L Departures + 19R Arrivals|
|WHERE||Make your way to NW Roanridge Rd and simply find a SAFE place to pull off the road out of traffic along the street. Thus just position yourself along the street – either directly under the path thus the aircraft will directly pass over your head or go back a few steps to get a better side on view.|
|WHAT||This is a nice spot for only arrivals on runway 19R and departures off 01L.|
|TIME||Actually all day as you can simply move with the sun to the other side.|
|MISC.||Nothing around. Be aware of fast drivers/cars, so stay away from the street! Also keep a low profile as US police may ask you to leave if you camp here with your camera and distract drivers.|
A319 = 95mm
|Spot #3 – Baseball field parking – 01R/L Arrivals|
|WHERE||As the whole area south of the airport is fenced, it is almost impossible to photograph 01 arrivals. The only spot for this kind of movements is located in a public park, off airport property, thus you are guaranteed to be uninterrupted! Head for Mark L. McHenry Park and take the NW Hampton Rd thru the forest. North of highway 152 you should then find a couple of baseball and soccer fields to the east of NW Hampton Rd. Next to the fields themselves you will find large parking lots a bit elevated where you can get rid off your car and simply take pictures from several points within the park.|
|WHAT||The spot is best for arrivals on 01L arrivals. 01R are very far but should be visible above treetops.|
|TIME||01L: Sunrise till early noon
01R: Late noon till sunset
|MISC.||NOTE: the gate to access this side is not always open! Nothing around, needed everything with you. This place can be crowded during sunny days or on weekends, keep a low profile there to avoid suspicious views and attention.|
|Spot #4 – Fence Airport Dr – Maintenance apron|
|WHERE||This spot can is in the eastern area of the airport, along the fence at the Jet Midwest’s apron. You need to approach this spot from the east via NW 112 St and then head till the northeast until you got onto Airport Dr. When you arrive you can park in the lot and walk down to the fence around all the parked/stored aircraft.|
|WHAT||Maintenance apron. The south side of the hangar facilities (hard to see) is where you will see the boneyard with aircraft that have been harvested of parts or being demolished into scrap whereas the north side of the hangar facilities is where you will see aircraft undergoing heavy maintenance checks.|
|TIME||Depends on the exact angle an aircraft is parked in and where you stand. But mostly sunrise till early noon is the best time here.|
|MISC.||KEEP A VERY LOW PROFILE HERE! Maintenance companies do not like spotters hanging around their fences with cameras. Quickly come, take your pictures and leave. If you get asked or approached by security/police stay friendly and just explain what you do.
Always carry an ID with you! Nothing around, but a ladder or car top is needed/helpful if you want to avoid shooting thru the fence. Haze is no issue here though.
F100 = 60mm / B732 = 20mm