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San Antonio Lackland Air Force Base – Spotting Guide
San Antonio Lackland Air Force Base also known as San Antonio Kelly Field (SKF/KSKF) was opened in 1917. It is one of the 4 C5 bases in the US next to Dover, Travis and Westover. So if you are looking for C5, Lackland AFB is a good place to be! Apart from that, there are some fighter aircraft based here as well as. In addition, you may see some US military transport aircraft from other air bases like C17s or also very few C13os or similar and rarely you can also astonish foreigh air forces or some US military “passenger aircraft” like VIP/GA aircraft such as LJ35s.
Last but not least, Prime Air shows up regularly at SKF as well and Boeing likes to use SKF for parking B787s in the east on the ramp, too – so do not be confused that there are some very few civil aircraft/movements here as well.
Written by Severin Hackenberger in cooperation with Marcos Perez Sanchez and Ricardo Mungarro. Last Update: 2023
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|16/34||3520m / 115000ft|
|Ladder||Ladders are FORBIDDEN here! Police/Security will be there quickly and kick you out!|
|Car/Public Transport||A car is definitely needed as there is no public transport here.|
|Drinks/Food||There are no shops at any spots, so rather take food and drinks with you all the time or|
|Hotels||There are no spotter hotels around.|
|Season||Summer is very hot and hazy, so we rather recommend to come here in winter months.|
|Security||Remember that this is a USAF air base! Always try to keep a low profile, stay away from the fence! Do not use ladders at all and stow your cameras as long as possible. In addition, always keep an ID with you in case you are getting checked: stay friendly, simply explain what you do here and cooperate… Mostly if you just say you are watching planes (and do not have your camera next to you), they will leave you alone and tell you not to make any pictures. But sometimes they do also run license plate checks or wanna see the pictures on your SD.|
|General Info||Runway 16 is more often in use.|
|Spot #1 – Growdon Rd East – 16 Arrivals + Line-Ups|
|WHERE||Turn off the US access Rd 90 crossing/passing the runway in the north to the south into South Acme Rd. Then keep left onto Growdon Rd and head south towards the runway’s eastern side. From the curve you can nicely see the arrivals and east of a sort of noise wall you should nicely see the taxiway in front.|
|WHAT||This spot offers nice views onto aircraft taxiing towards line-up/threshold of runway 16 as well as 16 arrivals.|
|TIME||In the early mornings is best.|
|MISC.||You are a bit elevated as you can see below and thus can clear the fence easily without ladder. But haze can be an issue here on hot days.|
|Spot #2 – Growdon Rd West – 16 Arrivals|
|WHERE||Turn off US access rd 90 again to the south onto South Acme Rd, but now keep right to get onto the western side of the runway. The street here is named Growdon Rd as well, but head towards the base gate/entrance. However, this spot is located roughly in the first curve down south already as marked on the map.|
|WHAT||From here you can nicely see aircraft arriving on runway 16.|
|TIME||Good from noon till sunset.|
|MISC.||Nothing really around here. Security does not bother you at all, just make sure to stand by the roadside thus you do not disturb the traffic.|
|Spot #3 – Growdon Rd Base Gate – 16 Movements + 34 Departures|
|WHERE||This spot is located further down Growdon Rd west of the runway: fairly at the end you should face the Base gate/entrance. But just before that there is a small gravel/sand pit by the roadside: here you can pull over and nicely see the movements.|
|WHAT||From here you can see all 16 movements as well as 34 departures – 34 arrivals may be hazy or leave too early.|
|TIME||From noon till sunset.|
|MISC.||Haze can be an issue here on hot days. Nothing really around.
As you are quite close to the base entrance with plenty cars passing by here as well, be sure to keep a LOW PROFILE.
Ladders are especially here STRICTLY FORBIDDEN! This spot is a hit and run spot… If needed, stand on your pick up’s back when parking far away from the fence.
However, the base normally closes around 17 o’clock: then traffic here gets very little and you do not have a lot of issues anymore – but neither a lot of traffic.
|Spot #4 – Oak St/Oscar Westover Rd – 34 Arrivals + 16 Departures|
|WHERE||This spot can be found along Oak St/Oscar Westover Rd (name varies on the maps) running west along the short final onto runway 34. Just search your favourite position around here.|
|WHAT||Here you can nicely spot 34 arrivals as well as 16 departures. However, this spot is mostly only good for bigger aircraft – F16 are too small and thus hazy.|
|TIME||From later noon till sunset.|
|MISC.||Nothing around here, nothing needed.
Normally they do not bother that we are spotting here, but sometimes they may stop by and ask what you are doing or run your license plate. So if police/patrol car comes, just stow it, because otherwise mostly they will stop by and ask to see your pictures and so on.
|Spot #5 – Berman Rd – 34 Arrivals + 16 Departures|
|WHERE||Just on the other side of the runway axis basically along Berman Rd running along the short final onto runway 34 on the east/morning side. Again, just search your favourite position along here.|
|WHAT||This spot offers nice views onto 34 arrivals and 16 departures as well.|
|TIME||Sunrise till late afternoon/early noon.|
|MISC.||Nothing around here, nothing needed.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||Should be around 70-300mm|
As of now, we cannot provide any pictures taken here.
|Spot #6 – Parking lot East – Ramp + Taxiways|
|WHERE||This spot can be found in a parking lot simply at the end of Billy Mitchell Blvd east of the airport. Just head in here till you reach the fence/street’s end and then keep slightly to the left as marked on the map. In the parking lot, now just search your favourite location along the fence front.|
|WHAT||This spot should offer views onto the ramp and taxiways in front as well as the runway in the back.|
|TIME||The spot is good in the morning till early noon.|
|MISC.||Haze is an issue here – especially in the summer. In addition, foreground clutter may disturb your view.
Furthermore, you are really exposed here along the fence. So be sure to keep a low profile and do not hang at the fence all the time or outside with your camera!
However, the fence is not at all made for shooting thru the mesh. So here you need a pick-up/car where you can stand on the top/back – but take care to park your car away from the fence then!
|FOCAL LENGTH||Should be around 24-300mm|
As of now, we cannot provide any pictures being taken here – but should look like THIS roughly.