Tucson International Airport (TUS/KTUS) is the second busiest in Arizona after Phoenix Sky Harbour and handled 3.6 Million passengers in 2018. The Airport has no based airline and is only connected to national destinations. The regular carriers are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and Via Air. The airport is also served by DHL and Fedex.
The military part of the airfield operates USAF F-16 and some Iraqi AF F-16’s are based. The maintenance facilities of Raytheon and Bombardier are also on the airfield but their security staff has been known to ask photographers to leave if they venture too close. The Rolls Royce B747 is based here but obtaining photographs can be challenging due to the fence line and ground equipment.
Written by Patrick Weis, Bas Velders and Tim Ames. Last visited February 2019.
|Rating||Movements|| Visitor Rating|
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|3.352 m (10.996 ft)||2.563 m (8.408 ft)||2.134 m (7,000 ft)|
|Terminals||One for all flights|
|Spotting Information||Ladder||At some spots helpful but not recommended. Usually you can photograph through the mesh or over the fence.|
|Car||Absolutely necessary to get around the airport. No public transport.|
|Restrooms||Nothing at the spots directly.|
|Drinks/Food||Plenty of fast food chains north of the terminal along E Valencia Rd|
|Hotels||Plenty of hotels north of the terminal along S Tucson Blvd and E Valencia Rd|
|Season||Try to avoid the summer as it gets really hot, which causes heat haze at some spots.|
|Runway Usage||11L/29R||Main runways for the airport and used in both directions.|
|11R/29L||Very narrow runway (23m) and mainly used by the local Aeroclub.|
|03/21||Alternative major runway to 11L/29R during strong crosswinds|
|Spot #1 – S Park Ave – Aproach 11L and stored Aircraft|
|WHERE||This spot is located at the side of S Park Ave next to the stored Aircrafts there. From there you can shoot all arrivals to Runways 11L in the afternoon. Park your car at the side of the road there is enough space.|
|WHAT||You only can take pictures of planes landing on runway 11L in the afternoon. Furthermore you can photograph the parked and stored aircrafts on the Ascent Aviation ramp (see #5).|
|TIME||The best time is from 12:00 until sunset|
|MISC.||Bring what you need, no restrooms, no food, no drinks. The security staff of Ascent may come out and ask to see identification.|
|Spot #2 – Control Tower|
|WHERE||This spot is located is next to the ATC Tower at the end of S Plumer Ave. There are some unreserved parking spots where you can park for free. Shooting through the fence is easy and at some spots the fence is low enough to shoot over.|
|WHAT||All runway 11L/29R movements on the runway and taxiway. Fighter jets are already hazy on the runway early in the morning.|
|TIME||The best time is from sunrise until 10:00|
|MISC.||Bring what you need, no restrooms, no food, no drinks.|
Many parked aircrafts can be shot from here as well.
|Spot #3 – Fire Station – Departures & arrivals 11L/29R|
|WHERE||This spot is one of the better ones at TUS and often used by local spotters. From the terminal, take the first left (towards Air Cargo). Drive on this road until you reach the fire station. Park near the fence.|
|WHAT||All runway 11L/29 movements are visible from here. Even most military jets landing on 11L will use the runway exit in front of you.|
|TIME||The best time is in the early morning. Late in the morning, the sun wil be in front of you.|
|MISC.||There is nothing here, bring what you need. A small stepladder (2 steps) is recommended.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||100-200mm (taxiway)|
|Spot #4 – S Alvernon Way – Arrivals 29R|
|WHERE||There are almost no spots for shots of planes approaching the 29 runways. The only one worth a try is on South Alvernon Way. From the terminal, take the first left (towards Air Cargo). Then drive on East Los Reales Road and turn left onto South Alvernon Way. Park your car somewhere at a safe spot on the side of the road.|
|MISC.||There is nothing here.|
|Spots #5 – Ramps and stored aircraft around the field|
|WHERE/WHAT||There are several ramps and parked aircrafts around the perimeter and easy to photograph through the fence.|
|TIME||Due to the different angles you can photograph the whole day so plan at least one day. Pictures at the cargo ramp are only possible in the early morning!|
|MISC.||Don´t stay too long at the fence and don´t use a huge ladder (2 steps are enough). Take the picture and then continue.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||From 10 (747) to 100mm|