Aircraft Spotting Pages - Philadelphia International Airport

 

This updated map comes from the Google Maps iPad app, with modifications made to show the different spots around Philadelphia International Airport.

This map was updated on January 27, 2016.  Please take note that this map differs from the previous maps on this spotting page.

Click here for the flight information for PHL.

Directions to Philadelphia International Airport

As you can tell, almost all of the spots listed here in detail are located on or near the same road and it is possible to go from one end of the airport to the other in less than ten minutes while obeying the speed limits.  The locations on the New Jersey side are also within ten minutes of each other.

Coming from I-95 southbound, take Exit 15.  Once you get off the off ramp, it will put you on Enterprise Avenue. It is a four-lane road, two lanes in each direction. There will be a three-way stop coming up. You'll want to turn left at that three-way onto Fort Mifflin Road. Fort Mifflin Road then becomes Hog Island Road. When you reach the spots, pull completely off the road, as UPS has 18-wheelers go by often kick up a bit of dirt and dust. Stay on the side of the road that is not on airport property (the side that is closest to the Delaware River).

Coming from I-95 northbound, take Exit 13.  Once you are on the jug-handle part of the exit ramp, make a left at the traffic light onto Island Avenue.  Island Avenue will turn into Enterprise Avenue.  When you reach a three-way stop, turn right onto Fort Mifflin Road.  Fort Mifflin Road then becomes Hog Island Road. When you reach the spots, pull completely off the road, as UPS has 18-wheelers go by often kick up a bit of dirt and dust. Stay on the side of the road that is not on airport property (the side that is closest to the Delaware River).

Normal Operations at Philadelphia International Airport

The most common configuration at Philadelphia International Airport is to utilize the 27s.  When this is the case (about 80% of the time), 27L will be used for departures and 27R will be for arrivals. In addition, Runway 35 will also be used for arrivals and some departures (either full length or from taxiway Kilo) as well as arrivals onto Runway 26. You won't see departures off of 26 because they would go directly over the terminals.  If need be, there will also be 27L arrivals, and this is utilized rarely (and in the case of emergency landings) and in instances when there are events that would prevent PHL from having traffic land on 17, 26, or 35 or due to those runways being closed.  The reason you'll see PHL on the 27s more often than not is that during the winter months, the prevailing winds are out of the northwest while in the summer they are out of the southwest.

  • All larger aircraft will utilize 27R for arrivals (E170 and up) and depart off of 27L.  This includes anything E170 and larger.

  • If in the rare instance that PHL utilizes parallel 27L and 27R arrivals, aircraft smaller than an E170 will use 27R and aircraft E170 and larger will use 27L and 27R.

  • Smaller aircraft will arrive on 26 and 35 and depart off of 27L and 35.  This includes regional jets, business jets, and private planes.

  • Runway 35 departures will usually be business jets, private planes, and most Dash 8s.  Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways have utilized Runway 35 for arrivals.

If the 9s are in use (this is uncommon but any decent wind out of an easterly direction will call for the 9s to be utilized), 9L will be used for departures and 9R for arrivals as well as Runway 35 will be used for arrivals and some departures and departures will also use Runway 8There will be no arrivals onto Runway 8 as they would overfly the terminals.

  • Almost all aircraft will utilize 9R for arrivals and depart off of 9L with a few exceptions.

  • Smaller aircraft will arrive 35 and depart off of 8, 9L, and sometimes 35.  This includes regional jets, business jets, and private planes.

Runway 17 is used for arrivals and departures but only if there is a larger component of a southerly wind.  This is exceptionally rare.

When there is a stiff northwest to northerly wind that would be beyond crosswind limits for Runway 27R arrivals, Runway 35 would be utilized for arrivals and Runway 27L for departures.  This is rare, and A330s have used Runway 35 for arrivals.

Traffic at Philadelphia International Airport

Philadelphia International Airport is a hub for American Airlines, which took over as hub once they merged with US Airways.  This means that the vast majority of scheduled airline traffic into PHL will come from American Airlines and American Eagle as the two serve over 100 different domestic and international destinations.  To put it into numbers, approximately 75% of all airline traffic into PHL is comprised of American aircraft.  Because of the American/US Airways merger, more US Airways painted aircraft are getting repainted into the new American livery and all mainline flights that used to use the CACTUS callsign will use the AMERICAN callsign.  It is expected that all of the aircraft that are still in US Airways markings will be repainted into the new American livery by the end of 2016.

American Eagle/US Airways Express regional aircraft traffic at PHL can be recognized by their callsigns:  AIR WISCONSIN (CRJ200), BLUE STREAK (CRJ200, CRJ700, and CRJ900), BRICKYARD (E170 and E175), ENVOY (E145), and PIEDMONT (Dash 8 and E145).  These aircraft are all in the process of being repainted into American Eagle markings or being delivered new.

Air Canada Express (under the JAZZ or MAPLE callsign) utilizes multiple daily flights into PHL from Toronto with an Embraer E175 and daily flights from Montreal via Air Canada Jazz.  Saturday flights from Toronto are also operated by Air Georgian.

Alaska Airlines as of June 25, 2017 operates two flights to PHL; one is a seasonal red eye from Portland that comes in before 5:00 am and leaves before 6:30 am.  The second is a year-round flight from Seattle.  This was also a red eye flight but has since reverted to a late afternoon arrival with an evening departure.  Both flights operate either the 737-800 or 737-900ER.

American Airlines utilizes the entire US Airways mainline fleet at PHL (A319, A320, A321, A330s, Boeing 757, and Embraer E190) and will continue to do so for the near future.  Integration of the American Airline fleet, especially those of A321s with sharklets, Boeing 737-800s, and Boeing 757s have also taken place and there is a number of 737-800 flights replacing the A320 and A321 on some flights.

British Airways currently operates one daily into PHL.  Flight 67 (or 67V) arrives mid- to late-afternoon and as of March 26, 2017, the flight is operated by the 747-400.  This is the only scheduled 747 flight into PHL.  The evening flight, BA69, has been eliminated.  Prior to elimination the flight was operated by a mix of 777-200ER and 787-9 aircraft.

Delta Airlines has several flights a day to each of the airline's major hubs.  These flights use a combination of Airbus A319, A320, Boeing 717, 737-800, 737-900ER, 757, MD-88, and MD-90 aircraft.  Delta Connection flights will utilize a wide range of aircraft including CRJ200, CRJ700, CRJ900, E145, and E175.  Delta also operates a seasonal flight to Paris on the 757 and a daily flight to London-Heathrow on the 757.  The London and Paris flights arrive mid-afternoon.

Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines have several daily flights to PHL to several locations using the A319 and A320.  Frontier also utilizes the A321 on many routes.  Both airlines also operate the A320neo and will occasionally bring that to PHL.

Icelandair began PHL operations in late May 2017 flying on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday using the 757-200(W).  This is a seasonal flight.

JetBlue Airways has several flights a day to Boston using the Embraer E190.  There is also one daily flight to Ft. Lauderdale on the A320 (two in the winter).

Lufthansa operated one daily flight normally utilizing the Airbus A340-300.  It is also operated by the A340-600 on some days and even the A330-300.  As of December 17, 2015, this flight is now operated by Lufthansa CityLine and utilizes an A340-300 on a daily schedule using Star Alliance livery aircraft.  In late October 2017 this will be replaced by a regular Lufthansa A340-300 flight.

Qatar Airways began nonstop service from Doha to PHL (flight QTR727/728) using the Boeing 777-200LR but had switched to a daily 777-300ER on July 2 and then switched back to the 777-200LR.  As of January 1, 2016, this flight is operated by the Airbus A350-900 XWB and became the first regularly scheduled A350 passenger flight to North America.  The flight normally arrives around 8:30 am and departs before 11 am.

Southwest Airlines used to take a huge chunk of traffic away from US Airways (they used to consider PHL as a focus city), but even their numbers have dropped somewhat.  However, Southwest had recently increased their operations at PHL and utilize their 737-300, 737-700, and 737-800 on a daily basis.  On October 1, 2017, Southwest Airlines will begin once daily flights to PHL utilizing the 737 MAX 8.

United Airlines has several fights a day to each of its hubs (except Newark and Washington-Dulles) using either the A319, A320, 737-700, 737-800, 737-900, 737-900ER, and on a rare occasion the 757.  United Express flights are common and will utilize either the CRJ700, CRJ900, or E175.  The United Express flight from Washington-Dulles is an Embraer ERJ145 and will use the callsign WATERSKI.

Sunwing Airlines operates a seasonal charter to Freeport in the summer.  This flight does not operate daily.

UPS Airlines and FedEx Express have multiple daily flights into PHL using a wide variety of their fleet.  UPS considers PHL as their east coast hub and sends multiple A300s, 757s, 767s, and MD-11s to PHL daily (schedule varies).  FedEx also sends their A300s, A310s, 757s, 767s, MD-10s, and MD-11s through PHL nearly daily (schedule varies).

Southern Air operates a weekday daily flight to PHL typically using a 737-400 in DHL livery.  This flight operates between Cincinnati and Philadelphia and arrives between 6:30-7:30 am and departs after 11:00 pm.  In the past this has been substituted with a 767-200F in DHL markings, an ATI 767-300, or a Kalitta Charters II 727-200F.

Spotting Locations

Please note that example photos from each location are listed below each of the respective descriptions, when available.

Spot A can be best described as the point where Island Avenue becomes Enterprise Avenue.  This is near Atlantic Aviation's ramp and you can view Runway 8/26 and 17/35 operations through the fence.  It is not recommended to spend a lot of time here as there is a large amount of vehicular traffic and you would essentially be parking illegally along Island Avenue.  There is, however, a private parking lot across from the spot and could theoretically be utilized.  If you utilize that parking lot, exercise extreme caution crossing Island Avenue on foot.  Keep in mind the below text in red regarding this spot.

 

Spot B can be best described as the point at the curve of Fort Mifflin Road adjacent to another section of Atlantic Aviation's ramp.  You can view aircraft parked on their ramp through the fence.  There is a small area on the opposite side of the fence to pull off of the road (near a stop sign).  It is not recommended to spend a lot of time here as there is a large amount of vehicular traffic and you would essentially be parking illegally along Fort Mifflin Road.  Exercise extreme caution crossing Fort Mifflin Road on foot to get up to the fence.  In addition, please see the below text in red regarding this spot and utilization.

There is also a parking lot that is very near this spot where you could photograph aircraft parked along the fence near Spot B.  While there are photos of aircraft that were taken from this spot, it is not recommended regardless of the amount of time spent there.  You're staring into the sun at that spot too, so that negates everything.

 

 

Both Spots A and B should only be utilized for a few minutes at a time and ONLY for special visitors.  In the past, Spot B has been utilized for extended periods of time during Army-Navy weekend when military aircraft visited and parked at Atlantic Aviation.  Philadelphia Police will likely ask you to leave as well as PHL airport employees and Atlantic Aviation employees may also ask you to not take photos of aircraft on their ramp as they may be respecting the privacy of many high-profile individuals who may be in town for business, personal, or pleasure.  There are also rock piles in the vicinity of Spot B; please do not climb them.

There is also a US Airways Airbus A320 parked here and secured by gigantic cinderblocks.  This aircraft was involved in an accident on flight AWE1702 and has been parked here for over two years awaiting its fate.  The aircraft was supposed to be placed on a barge for scrapping but the last news of that was back in 2015.  It was covered in a blue shrink wrap which has all but shed away exposing the US Airways livery on the aircraft.

Spot C is utilized strictly for Runway 8 departures or 26 arrivals.  Park on the side of Hog Island Road that is opposite that of the airport perimeter fence and pull off as far as you can from the road as possible for your safety - there is not much of a shoulder here so please be very careful if you go here.  Park just south of the tunnel so that arriving traffic goes from right to left and departures go left to right so that you will have the sun at your back.  See above for the traffic you will see utilizing this runway.

Recommendation:  You can also utilize this spot (actually, move down about 500 feet) for Runway 27R arrivals in the evening hours for the best light - see the two middle shot below.  For those shots, it is recommended to park between the railroad tracks and the entrance to Fort Mifflin and walk down the railroad tracks towards Runway 8/26 to get the angle you want.

Please take note of the warning located in the Security section of the page.

 

 

 

First two photos are Runway 26 arrivals in the early afternoon.
Second two are 27R arrivals between Spots C and D in the evening.
Last two are a departure off 8 and 9L, both in late morning.

Spot D is actually in Fort Mifflin.  You will get traffic arriving onto Runway 27R and you are able to get as many different views as your heart intends on getting.  Head-on shots are possible from the entrance and if you go inside Fort Mifflin, side views are possible.

 

Recommendation:  Like above, you can also utilize this spot (actually, park in the gravel area off the access road for Fort Mifflin but not on the railroad tracks) for Runway 27R arrivals in the evening hours for the best light.  The two photos above of the A320 and 757 were actually taken from a spot whereby walking along the railroad tracks towards Runway 8/26 but stopping before you reach the left curve ahead sign on the road.

Spots E, F, G, and H are excellent spots for arrivals into 27R and departures from 9L.  Spot E is actually several different spots: the bend in Hog Island Road (look for a few trees and yellow gas pipes sticking up from the ground), the entrance road for Fort Mifflin, and the areas of Hog Island Road adjacent to the entrance road and will give you head-on and belly views of 27R arrivals.  If you are filming, you can get great sound as the aircraft will fly almost over you on their way to 27R.  The spot by the trees and gas pipes will give you a slight underbelly and side-on view.

 

The two photos above are from a spot about 100 feet east of Spot E along the curve on Hog Island Road.

 

The two photos above are from Spot E (reference the trees and the yellow gas pipes).
This spot is excellent and highly recommended if you choose to do video for anything landing on 27R.

If you want the side-on shots, Spots F, G, and H are better, and you can utilize areas between E and H to get any kind of shot and angle that you desire and either a belly shot or a side shot depending on which direction PHL Tower sends them as they depart using Runway 9L.  Keep in mind there is a Sunoco oil refinery near these spots and as you travel down Hog Island Road, Spots E, F, and G are located prior to the entrance to the refinery and H is just past.  Remember to park on the side of Hog Island Road that is opposite that of the airport perimeter fence and pull off as far as you can from the road as possible for your safety.  The two photos below are the best representation of Spots F and G for 27R arrivals.

The two photos below are the best representation of Spot H for 9L departures.

Spots G and H are highly recommended should PHL utilize the rare Liberty Visual to 27L for arrivals. 

Please take note of the warning located in the Security section of the page.

Spot I is great for arrivals onto Runway 35 and can also be utilized for 9L departures.   The traffic will fly over your head at a very low altitude.  You can always adjust and attempt to get side-on shots.  You'll always see Dash 8s and CRJs using 35 and sometimes will see a Southwest Airlines 737 or two.  There are a lot of trees and shrubbery that will prevent you from getting a head's up on traffic coming into 35.  It's also a decent spot for departures off of 9L as well as getting some shots of arrivals onto 27R.  Remember to park on the side of Hog Island Road that is opposite that of the airport perimeter fence and pull off as far as you can from the road as possible for your safety.

There is also a location just across from the access gate by Runway 35 and this can be utilized for Runway 35 arrivals as well.  Utilize this spot for 35 arrivals after 12:00 pm as the sun will be behind you.

 

The first photo is before 12:00 PM and the second is after 12:00 PM.

Recommendation:  If your goal is to capture Runway 35 arrivals, always keep in mind where the sun is before choosing a spot.  Both photos were taken from Spot I locations; Wheels Up was taken alongside Hog Island Road and the Gulfstream was also taken from alongside Hog Island Road but near the access gate mentioned above. 

Please take note of the warning located in the Security section of the page.

Spot J1 represents two different spots.  The first of which is located in the Employee Parking Lot for the UPS facility at PHL.  You cannot get shots of arrivals onto 26, 27R, and 35 because you are distant from the thresholds of those runways.  The specialty here is for 27L departures.  Most of the smaller planes will take off using less runway than the larger planes (717 and larger), and you have the high airport perimeter fence in front of you, preventing you from getting photos of aircraft rotating.  You will need 200+ mm if you want to shoot some traffic departing from 27L.

The second spot (where the letter J is actually represented on the above map) is a small gravel parking lot just past the UPS parking lot near the fire training "airplane."  Please note that it is recommended to utilize this gravel lot rather than the UPS lot as the UPS lot is private property and you will most likely be asked to leave from the UPS lot.  Again, the smaller planes will take off using less runway than the larger planes (717 and larger), and you have the high airport perimeter fence in front of you, preventing you from getting photos of aircraft rotating - see the example below of the United 737-800 rotating as seen from the gravel lot.

Please take note of the warning located in the Security section of the page.

Recommendation:  The UPS lot is not recommended if you want to get photos of larger aircraft as they will not have rotated before reaching you.  Some may have rotated by the time they reach the gravel lot but this is not always the case.  In the winter, there may be large piles of snow at both spots giving you a chance to climb up and look over the fence; this is not recommended due to personal safety reasons.

Spot J2 represents any number of spots along Hog Island Road and is best described as being between the gravel lot and about 1,000 feet west of the radar tower.  The specialty here is for 27L departures.  Most of the aircraft 737-sized and smaller will have rotated once they pass your position.  Park as far off of the shoulder of Hog Island Road as you can or you can park in the gravel lot and walk to a spot between the gravel lot and the radar tower.  You will want to go past the radar tower to get photos of heavies as they will utilize most of Runway 27L to get airborne.

 

Recommendation:  In summer 2017, a chunk of Runway 27L will be unavailable at the approach end for departures, so aircraft will rotate further down the departure end of the runway.  Keep that in mind when choosing a spot to photograph departures.

Please take note of the warning located in the Security section of the page.

Spot K  is on Hog Island Road and is very close to the threshold to Runway 9R.  You can actually get touchdown shots from this spot.  This is also a very good spot for 27L departures as well as 9R arrivals.  The City of Philadelphia actually has "No parking" signs along this part of Hog Island Road but these signs are spaced wide apart, technically making this spot acceptable (my opinion is if they really want to make sure there's no parking there should be signs placed much closer together).  This is also near the gate where a man crashed through a gate and drove onto Runways 9L and 9R with his vehicle in March 2012There is also an electrical junction box by this gate - do not cross Hog Island Road to stand on this box to take photos or film.  The box is not firmly mounted to the concrete block it is on and is unsafe to stand on.  Also, while some of my videos from this location show someone on top of one of the guard rails, it is not recommended because of possible injury and the fact that you are not allowed to photograph near the perimeter fence.

 

Because of several large dirt piles, it is recommended to park slightly east of the speed limit sign.  You can get photos from the railroad tracks here but exercise good judgment and SAFETY here as it is likely you might see a train on those tracks.  Most of the heavies (A330s, A340, A350, 767s, and 777s) will already be airborne above the fence; the UPS MD-11 flight to Cologne, Germany usually goes out very heavy and likely will not have rotated when it passes you; utilize Spot L for that flight.

Remember to park on the side of Hog Island Road that is opposite that of the airport perimeter fence and pull off as far as you can from the road as possible for your safety.

Recommendation:  Like stated above, in summer 2017, a chunk of Runway 27L will be unavailable at the approach end for departures, so aircraft will rotate further down the departure end of the runway.  Keep that in mind when choosing a spot to photograph departures; this may end up being the best location for departures with all runway conditions taken into consideration.

Please take note of the warning located in the Security section of the page.

Spot L represents two different spots on Hog Island Road for arrivals onto 9R and is slightly further down the road.  Both of these spots are extremely dangerous.

The first spot is located right before Hog Island Road bends to the right (or if coming from the cargo areas, just past the end of the curve in the road).  There are no parking signs on both sides of the road but this is the best spot for 9R arrivals.  This is an extremely dangerous spot because there isn't much room to pull off of the road and you have to be extremely careful not to get your car off of the road because it will be difficult to get back on the road without causing damage to your vehicle - not to mention the people who use Hog Island Road as a drag strip.  Also, as you are leaving the spot, there is not much time to judge traffic coming off of the curve in the road so be extremely careful.

 

 

The second spot is just past that curve and is a gravel pull-off of Hog Island Road just past the approach lights for Runway 9R.  This spot is utilized mainly when the other 9R arrival spots become unusable due to the position of the sun.  In the summertime, this is good from about 3:30 pm until sunset.  There is not much room for error when trying to enter and leave this spot so please be extremely careful so not to cause a motor vehicle accident.

 

 

Regardless of which of these two locations you use, DO NOT WALK OUT TO THE APPROACH LIGHTS!  There are signs that state the land around the approach lights is federal property and that you would be considered trespassing.

Recommendation:  Utilize both spots as stated above when the 9s are in use and traffic is arriving on 9R based on the time of day.  You can also use the second spot for 27L departures in the late afternoon and evening.

Please take note of the warning located in the Security section of the page.

Spot M is on 4th Avenue in Tinicum Township.  There is an area you can pull off the road and catch 27L departures.  I have been to this spot once and have been chased out by the Tinicum Police Department because I was not allowed to park there.

Spot N is located on Tinicum Island Road across from the Express Park airport auto lot and is also part of an industrial park.  This spot is great for departures off of 27LIt is only recommended for evening departures as the sun will be behind you.  Please also note there are No Trespassing signs at the entrance to the industrial park, so please utilize that location at your own risk.

Recommendation:  Like stated above, in summer 2017, a chunk of Runway 27L will be unavailable at the approach end for departures, so aircraft will rotate further down the departure end of the runway.  Keep that in mind if you choose to visit Spot N because heavies may end up later than you would want; in this case utilize Spot L.

Spot O is the US Airways Maintenance hangar.  While you won't get a chance to take pictures of aircraft departing or arriving, but you have the ability to get to view aircraft parked outside one of the maintenance hangars.  However, I do believe you would be trespassing here, and it is not recommend to utilize this spot.

About the parking garages:  Since there have been many inquiries in the past about photographing from the parking garage, it is actually not recommended.  While the action is far enough away to warrant at least a 400mm lens, you are facing the sun the entire time and you will have to deal with heat haze (even on a cloudy day and/or cold day).  The photos below are examples taken from the parking garage roof between Terminals E and F at 300mm.  The MD-80 in the first photo is starting its takeoff roll on 27L, the E190 had already exited from 27R.  The A321 in the second photo is about to touch down on 27R.  Both photos were taken on an overcast day.

Military Aircraft and VIP Traffic:  During multiple occasions every year PHL will host various military aircraft from all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, especially from the United States Army, United States Navy, and the United States Air Force.  Events that feature military aircraft staging out of PHL include but are not limited to home openers for the Phillies and Eagles and especially when the Army-Navy Game is played at Lincoln Financial Field.

When the President or Vice President visits Philadelphia or any of the surrounding communities, you will see C-17 Globemaster III or C-130 Hercules aircraft come in a day or two before the POTUS or VPOTUS scheduled visit to drop off support equipment and personnel to support the visit (helicopters, motorcade vehicles, The Beast, weapons, etc.) and they will visit PHL again after the POTUS or VPOTUS has left PHL to pick up the support equipment and personnel.  Information on when the POTUS will be visiting is publicly available but the White House will almost never give exact times for obvious reasons.  On the day of a POTUS or VPOTUS visit the entire airport complex, including the spots listed above, are patrolled by every law enforcement agency you can think of and they will not allow you to stay in any one spot.  While others have gotten up close photos of their aircraft from those same spots above, they were taken at great risk.

New Jersey Spotting Locations

Spot A is located at the RiverWinds restaurant.  This is the closest of the closest of the spots to get PHL traffic, but as you can see by the location, it's the furthest from Runway 27R for arrivals.  Runway 27L arrivals are ideal here, though they will be slightly higher.

Spot B is located at the Red Bank Battlefield Park.  There is limited parking here and the parking lots tend to fill up fast.  It is a large park and will allow you to get close to the Delaware River but not in the river itself.  There are locations around the park that are shaded.  The photo below is a 27R arrival at 300mm and along the fence.

Spot C is a boat ramp located in National Park.  There is ample parking about half a block from the boat ramp.  This location puts you closest to 27R arrivals and also excellent for 27L arrivals, though they are overhead.  There is very little shade here except underneath any trees or the gazebo by the parking lot.  It is highly recommended that you do not walk out onto the dock to take photos as it is a floating dock and you run the risk of falling into the river.  The first two photos below are 27R arrivals and the last two are 27L arrivals.

 

Spot D is actually called Soupy Island and is located at the very end of Red Bank Avenue.  There is no dedicated parking lot here - it is all dirt and sand.  Exercise extreme caution when here, especially after it has rained or snowed.  Both photos below reflect 27R arrivals.

 

For all of the New Jersey locations, you will definitely need at least 300mm to get the aircraft in full frame.  Spot A can be reached from Exit 21 off of Interstate 295 while Spots B, C, and D are easily reached from Exit 22 off of Interstate 295.

Please note that these are public areas and you will often see families out here, so exercise caution.

Security

I have been to PHL numerous times and I had no problems with security on my first trip. In fact, I was there for about two hours and did not see a single squad car pass by. The second time I was there, I had someone from the Coast Guard (he pulled out of the area where the Sunoco oil tanks are) come over, ask for my ID, and gave me a head's up that I might be arrested for shooting video. I have taken it as fair warning, but still stayed at the spot, only shooting video from inside the car. However, I have heard and read about horror stories about photographers being given a hard time by the Airport Police and by the Philadelphia Police Department and the Tinicum Police Department. These stories include equipment being confiscated, equipment being deliberately damaged, to getting arrested and detained by the police.

Today, so long as you stay on the correct side of the road, you will not be asked to leave as long as you are not deemed as a threat.  Both the Philadelphia Police Department and the Tinicum Township Police Department patrol Hog Island Road regularly and will, on a few occasions, stop by and say hi and to make sure you are okay and do not need any assistance. 

Your chances of getting questioned at PHL were very high, considering you have a major fuel storage facility between you and the airport (depending on where you're spotting from). Don't let that discourage you from going to PHL for the day. As long as you're cool about why the officers are there and you keep yourself collected, they should determine you are not a threat and will leave you be.  Today, PHL has become a relatively spotter-friendly airport due to the fact that the Philadelphia Police Department is aware of our activities and the fact that the regulars are not of any threat but please read the below text as it pertains to safety while at PHL. 

There have been an increased number of patrols by the Department of Homeland Security; DHS officers will most likely ask you to leave and cite various reasons including personal safety.

PLEASE KEEP IN MIND THE FOLLOWING

When spotting at any of the locations along Hog Island Road, remember to always stay on the side of the road opposite that of the airport perimeter fence (this is the side of the road that is closest to the Delaware River).  Philadelphia Police as well as Tinicum Police will ask you to leave if you park next to the airport perimeter fence.

BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS AT ALL TIMES.  I cannot stress this enough.  Pull as far off the road as you possibly and safely can - and yes, I mean park in the grass or high weeds.  This is because many motorists tend to use Hog Island Road as a drag strip (especially between Spots K and L) and you will occasionally see someone drive by doing double or even triple the speed limit.  Later in the day you may get caught up in an illegal drag race in progress as I've observed this happening on multiple occasions.

The same can be said for motorcyclists, who regularly use the straight part of Hog Island Road by Spots E, F, G, and H to do high speed runs - typically around and/or over 100 mph.  There has not been - to my knowledge - an accident resulting from one of the said drivers or motorcyclists plowing into a spotter's vehicle but there is always the chance it could happen.  Philadelphia Police and Tinicum Police have stepped up their patrols to catch speeders, so keep in mind that the speed limit varies on the road and is strictly enforced!

There are also people who ride ATVs and mopeds down Hog Island Road and the dirt area adjacent to the train tracks between Atlantic Aviation and UPS.  They will kick up a significant amount of dust and dirt when they go by at high rates of speed.  If you happen to see these vehicles on Hog Island Road, please report them to the authorities as it is illegal to operate these vehicles on paved roads as per Pennsylvania state law.

It is not recommended to spot from the railroad tracks; in fact it is illegal to stand in the railroad tracks in most jurisdictions.  If you choose to do so, please keep your head on a swivel as these tracks are still active!

You will also see people jogging or riding a bike down Hog Island Road.  If you were to pull completely off the road, you will be doing them a favor by not having to weave into traffic.

Do not use a step ladder or stand on top of your vehicle.  This is because in some locations the ground is simply not level and the Philadelphia Police and Tinicum Police do not tolerate ladders anywhere at any of the spots.

During the winter, be very careful at all of the spots as they may not be plowed out sufficiently.  Large snow piles at many spots may prove to be excellent opportunities to get different angles but it is not recommended to climb these snow piles due to the heightened risk for personal injury.

This is for your safety and for the safety of others and so that we can all continue to enjoy these spots.

 

Facilities

Philadelphia:  There are two Wawa locations within a ten minute drive from any of the spots on this page.  One is located near the intersection of Island Avenue and Essington Avenue (this Wawa has gasoline) and the other is located near the intersection of PA-291 and Jensen Avenue in Tinicum Township.

Please keep in mind if you are visiting Philadelphia that it is highly recommended that you buy ANY beverage that contains sugar (this includes but is not limited to coffee, sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, etc.) that as of January 1, 2017, the city of Philadelphia has enacted a sugar-sweetened beverage tax of 1.5 cents per ounce on just about every drink that fits that criteria.  This means many drinks may end up costing you double what you'd normally be used to paying anywhere else.  Zinger Aviation Media recommends that you take this into consideration.

New Jersey:  There are multiple shopping centers located within twenty minutes of the spots.