Aircraft Spotting Pages - 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta
Aerial shot provided by Google Earth with modifications to show the spots around 4 Wing Cold Lake.
About the Spots
Spot A: This is the only place to spot at 4 Wing Cold Lake. Follow directions from the main provincial road (coming from the north or south) and turn towards 4 Wing Cold Lake at the intersection with the CF-104 Starfighter on the pole. Follow the road onto the base and you will go through a traffic light. Stay on the road until you see the dedicated spotting area to the right. Park there. There are park benches set up as well as a display showing all the different aircraft you can see at Cold Lake. You're allowed to stay there as long as you'd like (unless the base police kick you out). Remember though (and this is clearly stated) that you CANNOT use a lens greater than 300 mm at the spot for security reasons (NORAD has facilities at Cold Lake). You've got a decent overview of the base from the spot and you are able to get taxi shots if the aircraft use Runway 13L for takeoffs and you are able to get decent pictures of aircraft departing on either 31L or 31R, even with 300 mm. However, do not go on the other side of the road to get pictures!
What You'll See at 4 Wing Cold Lake
On a normal day, you will see CF-18 Hornets from the three squadrons (410 Squadron, 416 Squadron, and 441 Squadron - 416 and 441 are merging to form a new squadron) based at Cold Lake, as well as CH-146 Griffons that are based there as well. AETE also has CT-133 Silver Stars in airworthy condition, as well as a CH-146, CF-18s, and CT-114 Tutors in their fleet, all of which sporting a really nice paint scheme. Now, if you happen to be at Cold Lake during the months of May and June, you will be seeing a ton of other aircraft from the United States, Great Britain, and much of Europe in town for the annual Maple Flag exercise. I would HIGHLY recommend you visit during the months of May and June to see as much variety, in case CF-18s don't satisfy you.
I have spotted at Cold Lake once and have not had any problems with military police at all. I would highly recommend that if you have lenses larger than 300 mm that you not use them when you're there. There are signs specifically stating this and I highly recommend you adhere to that rule.