Aircraft Spotting Pages - Langley AFB, Virginia
(Joint Base Langley-Eustis)

 

Satellite photo provided by Google Maps to show the area around Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

 

About the Spots

Spot A:  The last time this spotting page was updated, which was back in 2011, this was an AMAZING spot that was located directly across from Langley on a dirt road adjacent to the intersection of Armistead Avenue and Sweeney Blvd. that led to what I had always thought was a junkyard and auto parts dealer, but turns out it led to a business known as Highway Motors, which is a used car dealer.  Today, the area around this dirt road is built up and is currently used by the USAF as a truck inspection facility, which was built up in recent years adjacent to this dirt road.  Highway Motors is still located at the same spot and is still accessed by that aforementioned dirt road.

Since Zinger Aviation Media has not visited Joint Base Langley-Eustis since May 2011, it is unsure whether this spot is still usable or not.  However, Google Maps' Street View does provide some clues.  The dirt road still exists and the road is not wide enough for two cars to pass by without one pulling off to the side.  There appears to still be room to park on the side of the dirt road furthest from the approach lights.

This spot allows excellent views of arrivals to Runway 8 as well as departures from Runway 26.  You can use any size lens at this spot for 8 arrivals but know that catching 26 departures may require 300mm or more.  While you have a clear view of the runway, ramp, and buildings on the base, please do not take any photos of the base and please do not take any photos of the inspection station behind you as that is Air Force property.

It is recommended to use this spot from morning until about mid-afternoon as the light shifts drastically in the afternoon.

Please see disclaimer towards the bottom of this page as well.

 

Spot B:  This spot is located off of Tidewater Drive.  As stated above, there has been a makeover of the entire area just off of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, and it used to lead to residential area.  Nowadays, (this is actually through research using Google Maps Street View) it still does, but the USAF built up a secondary road that goes to the left.  You'll see a sign that points to Inspection Station to the left and Tidewater Drive to the right.  Bear to the left and pull off to either side of the access road within ten feet of that sign.  Keep in mind there is a No Parking sign at the stop sign, and while that was placed at the stop sign, my interpretation of that no parking sign is to not park anywhere on the paved part of Tidewater Drive (if you look at Google Maps Street View, there is actually someone parked off the road roughly 60-100 feet from the said stop sign and one can assume this person is spotting).  Take note that there is a security camera set up on the fence facing Tidewater Drive. 

The view at Spot B is practically reversed from Spot A, as it allows excellent views of arrivals to Runway 8 as well as departures from Runway 26.  You may not see aircraft making the turn from base to final because of the trees.  You can use any size lens at this spot for 8 arrivals but know that catching 26 departures may require 300mm or more.  While you have a clear view of the runway, ramp, and buildings on the base, please do not take any photos of the base and please do not take any photos of the inspection station to your right as that is Air Force property.

It is recommended to use this spot from mid-afternoon until sunset due to the harsh morning to mid-afternoon light.

Please see disclaimer towards the bottom of this page as well.

What about Runway 8 departures and Runway 26 arrivals?:  This spot, if it existed

 

Activity at Joint Base Langley-Eustis

There is no rhyme or pattern to when you'll see flying at Joint Base Langley-Eustis and this information will not be published anywhere nor should you ask anyone as it is a grave risk to national security.  Langley is home to the 1st Fighter Wing and Air Combat Command, which flies the F-22 Raptor and the T-38 Talon.  Weekdays may have much more activity than weekends but again, there is no pattern to this.  You'll likely see more F-22s and T-38s than any other aircraft type, but this does not mean that is all you will see.  Langley has been known to have other USAF aircraft transit through, both small and large.

In addition, the 192nd Fighter Wing of the Virginia Air National Guard is based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, and flies the same F-22 Raptors that the 1st Fighter Wing flies.

NASA also has a hangar located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, and many different aircraft types owned by NASA can be seen in and out of the base.

Below are some common callsigns you will hear from Langley-based aircraft and transients from the immediate area.
This particular list does not include every callsign Langley F-22s use, as there are dozens of different callsigns which vary depending on the mission flown.  Callsigns for the 1st Fighter Wing's T-38s are currently not available.

Callsign Aircraft Squadron or Unit
Air Gun F-22A Raptor 1st Fighter Wing
Banyon F-22A Raptor 1st Fighter Wing
First F-22A Raptor 1st Fighter Wing
Jeep F-22A Raptor 1st Fighter Wing
Kick F-22A Raptor 1st Fighter Wing
King F-22A Raptor 1st Fighter Wing
Mexico F-22A Raptor 1st Fighter Wing
Raptor F-22A Raptor 1st Fighter Wing
Spider A-10/F-15/F-16/F-22 Combat Air Patrol
Vapor F-22A Raptor 1st Fighter Wing

Security and Disclaimer

Joint Base Langley-Eustis, back when the 1st Fighter Wing flew only F-15 Eagles, was once a place where it was very easy to get photos of aircraft arriving and departing from the base.  Once the 1st Fighter Wing's F-15s left and the F-22 Raptors became operational (beginning in late 2005), security forces have stepped up their game, not allowing any kind of spotting at either location.  Stories were brought to the attention from people who have used the spots mentioned about being asked to leave.  Reasons weren't given, but one can assume that because Joint Base Langley-Eustis is home to forty or more $140M stealth fighters, that the USAF would like to protect their investment as best as possible and also to avoid any kind of OPSEC issues that could potentially arise. 

All local jurisdictions, including DOD Security Forces and Hampton Police, routinely patrol this area.

Please use your best judgment when at these spots and use them at your own risk.  Zinger Aviation Media cannot guarantee you will be able to spend several hours at either location and not be asked to leave.  As always, carry your ID and comply with what law enforcement has to say and not challenge or question their request as it will likely end up with detainment.