Saturday 15 May 2010

Responding to reader's question: Where to Park to See the Big Airplanes



This website received the following question via email from Scott Craig:
Subject: A380 at Pearson
Date: Friday, May 14, 2010, 10:47 AM
Hi, I was wondering if you know if which terminal is the best to park at for viewing arriving planes at Pearson, 1 or 3? I assume one of those would be the safest bet for a general view of the airport, unless you know which runway the A380 will land on, which I assume will somewhat depend on the wind conditions.


We asked frequent airplane videographer/photographer George Socka where he goest to get good pictures of the A380 landing at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Canada. This is his response:

George Socka

The A380 usually comes in on Runway 23 see map at

Best place to see them is to go to the Wendy's on Airport Road (east side south of the International Center - if you get to the Tim Hortons Restaurant you are too far). There is a huge parking area behind Wendys, and a grassy area where you can walk out right under the flight path - the big planes are about 100 ft up - or less. The leading lights are right there. You can hear the air currents after a plane has gone by. You can cross Airport road and you are about 100 ft from the end of the runway. Use to be a place to park by the DeHaviland plant - now fenced off.

Now, I did see the thing come in over Mississauga a few days ago probably on its way to Runway 6. No way to know in advance (unless you have a scanner). There is a parking lot by a business centre on the east side of Dixie Road that is close but the planes are still pretty high overhead. As well there is deadend turnaround area on Luke Road off Shawson (all off Dixie) where you can get photographs.
Be warned, I always feel someone is going to kill you there. There is also a strip club (I assume) on Luke Road that has a parking lot behind it. But there are a lot of trees.
If the plane comes in from the east on Runway 24 there is no easy place to park. Hooters on Carlingview has a big parking lot, as does Moore's. There is also a big parking lot behind the Landing Strip ( another strip club) that gets a good view, sometimes of the talent at the Landing Strip out for a smoke as well. There is also street parking there. If you cross Carlingview at the Hooters you are in a bit of a depression but you are right at the end of Runway 24, and can see the big antenna and light array. But the planes are usually coming in pretty high there too. Now, if you were to frequent either of those fine establishments, it would be a great break from watching the show there. My personal experience is limited - I think I may have been in the Landing Strip in the 70's
The Hortons on Dixie is also a good place for photographers, but the runway is a bit far away and I never saw the 380 there though. There was once a great place behind FedEx by the gun club, but that hill got levelled and fences put up because of an article in the Star. The gun club is still there, but photographers are banished. (Because the photogs were going to shoot down planes?)
There is also good viewing from the Landmark executive terminate on Vedette- the Snowbirds and Blue Eagles parked there during the last International Air Show. Fences and gates block the view a bit but you can almost touch the planes. Interestingly, if you find that on Google maps and take the satellite view you see the Golden Eagles 2009 Air show planes on the ground. I have a photo of those at the Sky Service parking area.. Too cool

Best bet is Wendy's at 3:30 - check the schedule

CUTLINE: The big plane comes in. George Socka, from his Flickr page.