SeaTac runway viewing points?
April 3, 2005 9:08 AM   Subscribe

When I fly into SeaTac airport, now and then I'll see people in cars very near the runway, hanging out and watching the planes take off and land. That looks like fun. I've driven around the area a bit, but I can't find a really good spot. Can anyone give me directions to a good place? (I Googled a bit too.)
posted by agropyron to Travel & Transportation around Seattle, WA (9 answers total)
Planespotting at SEA
posted by grouse at 9:23 AM on April 3, 2005

Best answer: According to this gentleman:

There are two spots where you can watch planes. S. 188th Street actually goes under runway 16L/34R and you can pull off on the shoulder after the runway bridge. If planes are landing to the north you'll see them fairly close especially on approach to the west runway (16R/34L) as they will fly over this street.

The other area is best if planes are landing to the south (runways 16L & 16R) and is the parking lot of a waste water treatment plant located next to the Airport Employee Parking Lot. I dont remember the exact directions but it is off 24th Ave. South and S. 146th St. as shown on the map.

You might also want to check out his planespotting guide.

His site has additional listings for airports in the U.S. and Canada.
posted by filmgoerjuan at 9:23 AM on April 3, 2005

That is a great link filmgoerjuan. Thanks. I remember as a teenager sneaking over the fence at the local airport and lying on the grass next to the runway waiting for planes to land. Their wings would go right over the top of you and then you had to run on the assumption that they radioed into the tower about you being there. Post 9/11 I think I'll stick to the locations in your link.
posted by caddis at 10:17 AM on April 3, 2005

Best answer: If the planes are landing from the north, S. 146th St. has some good viewing spots. You may have seen cars parked on S.156th Way when you've flown in. That road has been closed for about a week, for construction of the third runway. I'm not sure it will ever re-open.

On the south side 18th Ave. S, alongside the Tyee golf course, has a pretty decent view. It's not as close to the runways as S. 188th St., but it's also not a main arterial, which is nice. Added attractions there are some enormous ant colonies to gawk at, and the occasional SWAT team rolling through, on its way to or from the nearby training facility.

Zoom out to "3" on either of those maps to get a little better perspective.
posted by Buzz at 10:28 AM on April 3, 2005

Upon further review, the road in grouse's link is the one that is, unfortunately, closed. There's actually been no parking there for quite some time, as that's one of the places where the trucks hauling the 6 million cubic yards of fill dirt have been accessing the construction site.
posted by Buzz at 10:45 AM on April 3, 2005

posted by grouse at 11:12 AM on April 3, 2005

Orlando International Airport had a similar road for plane-watching, but it was closed due to terrorism concerns.

So if this road is out there, it may not be much longer.
posted by Servo5678 at 2:02 PM on April 3, 2005

Once upon a time, very long ago, airports had "observation platforms". Sometimes these were free, but often you paid 10 cents to get out. They were usually on sections of roof, overlooking the runways and parked planes. This was back when the airport was a place where families might go, for no reason except to watch the planes. Parking was free or cheap. It was a good place.

Most such places were shut down over the years, for security reasons. Apparently they worried someone would fly off the roof with their jet-boots, and hijack a plane to Cuba, or some other warm, sunny place.
posted by Goofyy at 8:48 PM on April 3, 2005

If you like the idea of looking at the sort of photos such people might have taken, is for you.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:37 PM on April 3, 2005

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