Norfolk International is the 70th busiest airport in the country, and 4th busiest in Virginia. It is a major airport serving most of southeast Virginia. Passenger service includes airlines such as Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, and United with destinations from Boston, MA all the way to San Diego, CA. FedEx and UPS also operate to Louisville, Richmond, Indianapolis, Memphis, and Newark.
The airport averages over 250 flights per day. It has 2 runways: 5/23, which is 9001 feet long and is used for most takeoffs and landings, and runway 14/32, which is 4,876 feet long and is rarely used, but when it is, it’s only for small propeller aircraft.
The airport opened in 1926, offering commercial service to/from Washington, D.C. and Philedelphia, PA. In 1938, it was named “Norfolk Municipal Airport” when Penn Central (nowadays known as United Airlines) provided the airport’s first air service. In 1942, the airport was taken over by the U.S. Army Air Corps, and was returned in October 1947 after WWII ended. In 1964, the name changed to “Norfolk Regional Airport,” and in 1974, a new, state-of-the-art terminal opened. In 1976, the airport name changed again to “Norfolk International Airport” with the addition of federal inspection facilities. Since then, the airport has been growing in size, operations, and revenue.
The airport is a common diversion/relief airport if flights from the DC/New York/Raleigh-Durham area need to divert somewhere. The airport also may see occasional large military aircraft. From time to time, we see unscheduled DC-10s, C-17s, 747s, A330s, and 757s. We also see many diverting CRJs, 737s, and A320s.
Written by Joe Waxman (local spotter). Written May 2019
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|Airport Information||Runways||3/21||2.743 m (8,999 ft)||Asphalt|
|Terminals||One for all flights.|
|Spotting Information||Ladder||Needed at spots 1 and 2. Car rooftop is possible too as you can park directly at the fence.|
|Car||Locations 3 and 4 are within walking distance from the terminal and you don´t need a ladder here.|
|Restrooms||Only found near spots #3 and #4..|
|Drinks/Food||Only found near spots #3 and #4.|
|Hotels||There are quite a few hotels located within 5 miles of the airport|
|Season||As most spotting locations are on the west side of the runway we highly recommend there to go in the summer as the sun don´t really move over in the winter.|
|Runway Usage||05/23||At 9001 feet, it’s the longest runway. Most aircraft land/takeoff from this runway. Whether they use the 05 or 23 side depends on the winds.|
|14/32||Rarely used. When it is, though, it is only for small aircraft such as a Cessna 208 or Cessna 172.|
|Spot #1 – Airport Public Observation Area – 05 arrivals/23 departures/movements on the south end of taxiway C|
|WHERE||This is the official viewing area of the airport, located at the bend on Robin Hood Road adjacent to the Air Cargo Terminal. From the terminal just follow the signs to the Air Cargo and after you have passed that the place will be to your left hand side.|
|WHAT||05 arrivals and lineups. 23 departures and movements on the south end of taxiway C|
|TIME||Afternoon to sunset year round.|
|MISC.||No restrooms or food located nearby, so bring what you need. Also, the fence may obstruct your photos, so either bring a ladder or a car to stand on that is at least 6 feet tall. Car roof is reccomended.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Aircraft taxiing on C: 113mm for E175, 55mm for 737-700.|
For aircraft landing/taking off on 05: 70mm for A300, 219mm for King Air 350.
For aircraft taking off on 23: 200mm for E175, 100mm for A321. (70-300mm should be good.)
|Spot #2 – Long Term Parking Lot – all movements on 05/23, taxiway C, taxiway B, and the south side of the concourse B ramp.|
|WHERE||Located right to the departures building on the long term parking lot. Just follow the signs and park directly at the perimeter fence.|
|WHAT||All movements on 05/23, taxiway C, taxiway B, and the south side of the concourse B ramp.|
|TIME||Afternoon to sunset year round.|
|MISC.||Police are constantly patrolling around this area, so prepare to be talked to or, depending on the officer, asked to leave. Long-term parking is $1.00 per each half hour, or anything after that, up to a maximum of $9.00 per day. Ladder/car roof is reccomended.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||For B ramp: 18mm for A320, 35mm for E175.|
Aircraft exiting runway on taxiway B: 70mm for A320, 90mm for CRJ-200.
Aircraft on runway 05/23: 150mm for 757-200, 300mm for Gulfstream G280. (70-300mm for taxiway/runway and 18-55mm for ramp should suffice.)
|Spot #3 – Parking Garage A – All movements on 23/05, taxiway C, concourse A ramp, and the north side of the concourse B ramp.|
|WHERE||Just follow the signs to parking garage A and drive or walk all the way up to the uppermost level.|
|WHAT||Best for taxiway C, concourse A ramp, and the north side of the concourse B ramp. Movements on 23/05 in the far distance.|
|TIME||Afternoon to sunset year round and even night photography. Beware of heat distortion due to the distance.|
|MISC.||Trees somewhat obscure your view of the south side of concorse A ramp/the north side of concourse B ramp. Facilities such as restrooms and restaraunts are located down the elevator and inside the terminal.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||300mm for 737, 400mm+ for smaller|
|Spot #4 – Hill at Norfolk Botanical Garden – all movements on 05/23|
|WHERE||About a mile north of the airport entrance and to the right. Don´t drive to the airport this time continue on 192 northwards from the last big junction and then turn right into the Botanical Garden Access Road. Park on the official parking lot and climb up the small hill between the parking and the airport perimeter fence.|
|WHAT||All movements on 05/23, taxiway C, and north A concourse ramp.|
|TIME||Spring/summer months, afternoon to sunset for runway and taxiway movements. Sunrise to noon for ramp movements.|
|MISC.||There are facilities about 200 meters away in the main building such as a gift shop with snacks and restrooms.|
Also, during the summer, the park is open from 9AM-7PM, and 9AM-5PM in the winter.
|FOCAL LENGTH||Runway 05: 170mm for 737-700, 300mm for Dornier 328JET.|
Runway 23: 300mm for ERJ-145, 260mm for A300.
Ramp: 40mm for 737-800, 18mm for 747-400
|Spot #5 – Shore Drive – 23 arrivals/05 departures|
|WHERE||The only morning location for 23 arrivals is at a pulloff area along Shore Drive, Highway 60. Park your car next to the gate to an empty spot and start spotting. Angle is not the best but this is the only place to take pictures.|
|TIME||Sunrise to late noon all year round|
|MISC.||There are no facilities nearby, so bring what you need. Also, I have been told that armed officers may come and ask you to leave because there is a small military base across the street, although I’ve never been confronted myself.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||130mm for CRJ-700, 70mm for DC-10|
|Spot #6 – Office Complex – 23 departures|
|WHERE||There is a office complex including the Panalpina/Titan America LLC/A Reddix & Associates/Tetra Tech building where you can take the departures from the parking lot. The area can be reached by car from the highway 165 and is behind the Residence Inn by Mariott which you can spot from the road.|
|WHAT||Only 23 departures. 05 arrivals are not visible from this location.|
|TIME||Sunrise to late noon all year round.|
|MISC.||Nothing nearby except restrooms inside the office building.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||240mm for 739; 280mm for E170.|