My first spotter tour of this year was in February and I decided to visit Salzburg Airport. The main reason why I chose this place was the atmosphere. I saw many pictures taken by spotters from this location and the snowy mountains in the background really impressed me.
When planning a spotter tour, the first thing that I check is the traffic at the selected location. To find out more about flight schedules, departures, and arrivals, there are many websites on the internet where we can collect data from, such as Flightradar 24, or the airport’s website, etc. Furthermore, it’s worth knowing that some airports are busier in winter with seasonal services, charter flights, business flights as the ski season begins, while the rest of the year is off-peak time and very quiet. So that’s how I found out that Salzburg Airport is extremely busy on weekends between December and March, especially on Saturdays. Then I took a weekend off from work and headed to Salzburg for 2 days.
Because there’s no direct flight between Budapest and Salzburg, I had to travel by train. The journey took me 5 hours, but it wasn’t bad at all, and the return ticket was less than £40!
The airport has one runway with directions 15/33 and offers several spotting locations. I started my day at the spotter mountain, which is approximately 10 minutes walk from the terminal and provides a fantastic view on the runway, taxiway and parking stands too. The variety of planes is average, but mainly B737’s and A320’s most of the time. The biggest jet is the B757 which comes a few times a day. At this location wide-angle lens is recommended to use because the taxiway is very close to the spotter mountain. Shots for the runway are varies but 150-200mm should be enough and cover everything. The weather was cloudy and rainy in the morning, but it cleared up later on and the sun came out. After a few hours of spotting I felt quite cold, so decided to go back to the terminal for a couple of minutes.
I knew there is an observation deck in the terminal building on the roof, so I wanted to see where it is and what’s the view from there, but unfortunately, it was closed. It’s located on the first floor at Terminal 1 and opens free of charge on a daily basis between 9 am – 10 pm if the weather is nice. But the weather was not that bad… Hmmm. I didn’t understand what’s going on and wanted to find out the reasons, so went to the restaurant next to the terrace and asked one of the waiters if he knows something about the closure. He told me that the visitor’s terrace is closed because of the El Al flight which is due around noon. It was 10 am in the morning and that plane supposed to leave at 13.30 in the afternoon, which means the observation deck is going to be closed until she departs. So I went back to the spotter mountain for taking pictures. The weather was just perfect with beautiful sunshine until the El Al B737 came, then the sun disappeared behind the clouds. Like I said I don’t really like taking photos when it is cloudy, so I went back to the terminal building again and was waiting for the much- mentioned aircraft to depart. Finally, they opened up the visitor terrace after the plane left the runway.
The observation deck is a nice place with a good view of the apron and runway with no glass – but as I heard now it’s glazed -. It was wonderful to see some de-icing process and to capture them also! Moreover, I have to mention my satisfaction regarding the lights around the apron. The light poles have a different colour temperature at many airports, which makes our things more difficult in post-processing, but this airport was different when I was there. I didn’t have to adjust the white balance on my photos at all! It’s definitely a wonderful place for night shots!
Also, there is an opportunity if the weather is really bad, or we are fed up with the traffic, to visit Hangar-7, with the Flying Bulls fleet and Formula 1 racing cars. The opening hours are generally between 9 am till 10 pm and entrance is free of charge. For more information, please visit their website (Hangar-7.com). The exhibition is located in a small building opposite the observation deck, on the other side of the runway. It’s about 20 minutes walk from the terminal building. I went there in the morning but perhaps it’s a better idea to visit the museum in the evening as the lightning changes colour after sunset and everything becomes red.
The next day the traffic was quiet with only 1-2 movements in an hour. The weather was cold and cloudy again and I had to leave the airport at noon to catch my train. I am not complaining about the weather, it’s well-known that it is totally unpredictable in winter, and I am so grateful that I could manage to take some nice shots.
Finally, I would say the best day is to visit LOWS airport in winter is Saturday. You can see some of my photos in the gallery below: