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Portland Intl. Airport Spotting Guide
Portland Internation Airport (PDX/KPDX) is the biggest airport in the state of Oregon with around 20 Million passengers per year and pretty easy for planespotting. Most locations are accessible even by foot and you will get the majority of traffic from there. The traffic is dominated by Alaska Airlines and their subsidary Horizon Air which uses PDX as a secondary hub.
Otherwise the common US carriers like Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Sun Country Airlines, Spirit, WestJet Encore and Hawaiian Airlines serving the airport. From Europe Icelandair & Condor offering seasonal flights during the summer season. FedEx, UPS, DHL, Cathay Pacific (sometimes opb Atlas Air) and Amazon Air are the cargo operators. Sometimes Boeing testflight will do low approaches and there is also a big paintshop at PDX where Boeing sent some of the aircraft for painting. Even more there is some military traffic because of the Oregon Air National Guard.
Written by Andreas Fietz and Quentin Wolfgang Larsen (local spotter). Last Update July 2021.
|Spot #1 – Short Term Parking Garage|
|WHERE||This is Portlands most popular spotting location and it is on the top (Level 7) of the short term parking deck. Just follow the signs when driving to the main terminal. If you need shade you can walk over to the long term parking on the same level which is covered.|
|WHAT||Full view of the north runway (10L/28R) and taxiway (and some gate positions) with a great view and the Columbia River in the background. You can go also on the southern side of the parking deck and then you have a partial view of the south runway (10R/28L) but mostly with backlight (see MRJ sample pic below).
A new terminal/pier is being built and totally blocks the view on the taxiway that is closest to the garage. Currently, has a few wires on top that might cover some wingtips/landing gear depending on the angle on the taxiway next to the runway (see samples below). Does not block the runway at all however! Covers up taxiway Kilo and might get in the way of Victor but not 10R/28L for exact areas.
|TIME||10L/28R: late morning until sunset
10R/28L: early morning during the summer, however, if 28L is operative for departures, then departing aircraft are perfectly lit when entering the runway at the threshold from late afternoon until sunset.
|MISC.||Restrooms and restaurants are available in the terminal.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||50-300mm for 10L/28R and adjacent taxiways
>300mm for aircraft turning onto 28L for takeoff at the threshold
|Spot #2 – 28L Approach|
|WHERE||There is a small “parking” area next to a control gate which is accessible from the NE Alderwood Rd at the crossover from NE 82nd way. Parking is for LSG employees only but give it a try and enjoy your hobby. If you have no car you can walk from the terminal or the MAX Mt. Hood Station for approximate 20-30 minutes on the sidewalks along the road.|
|WHAT||28L arrivals only mainly used by Cargo, Military and Alaska Airlines flights.|
|TIME||Late morning to sunset.|
|MISC.||Hotels and resteraunts available nearby.|
|Spot #3 – Sheraton Hotel – 28R|
|WHERE||You have to drive on the NE Airport way Frontage Rd and exit at the hotels. Get on the payed parking lots at the Sheraton and Hampton Inn and look for an empty lot near the fence. There is a barrier now and you have to get a ticket. A ladder is useful but you can also spot with a small step like from the door of you car. You can also book a room at Sheraton in the upper level where you have a nice view on the taxiway and runway but the window cannot be open completly.|
|WHAT||Runway 28R arrivals and departures and taxiway shots and a view over the general aviation ramp from ground and hotel.|
|TIME||From late morning to sunset (From early moring shots to general aviation ramp are possible)|
|MISC.||Restrooms and resteraunts in the hotels.|
|Spot #4 –10L/28R Sea Scout Base|
|WHERE||A bike path parallel to the Marine Drive on the north side of the airport next to the Columbia River offers a nice view over the airport. You can get on the Marine drive from NE Airport Way junction NE 122nd Ave. Parking is very limited here. but it’s possible to park at the crash gate near the 10L threshold and walk over the street to get on the bike lane. The location is on a dike and no ladder is needed as you are on a higher level than the fence. Watch out for fast trucks, cars and bikes!|
|WHAT||10L/28R arrivals and departures|
|TIME||Early morning only.|
|MISC.||There is nothing nearby. Be aware of the bikers and don´t stay directly on their path!|
|Spot #5 – Bay Trail along Metropolitan Golf Course – 28L/28R arrivals|
|WHERE||It’s on the parking of the target supermarket east of the terminal. From the NE Airport way drive to NE Mt Hood Ave to get on the area of the supermarket to your right. By foot take the tram to Mt. Hood Station and exit there.|
|WHAT||28L arrivals only.|
|TIME||In the morning hours.|
|MISC.||Supermarket, restrooms and restaurants are available in the area.|
|Spot #6 – Sunderland Ave – 10R Arrivals|
|WHERE||This spot is located at the corner of NE Sunderland Avenue and NE 33rd Drive. We recommend to use a GPS system or app to find this location. There is a dirt area next to the road, where you can park your car.
During our visit we only spent a short amount of time at the spot and we did not encounter any problems with local authorities, however, if you stay an extended amount time we recommend to keep a low profile as a military facility (Oregon Army National Guard) is located near by.
|WHAT||10R arrivals only.|
|TIME||Late morning until sunset in winter, late morning until early evening in summer.|
|MISC.||Bring everything you need. No shade, no shelter.|