Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mackay Airport Spotting Locations

Mackay Airport is approximately 6km from the city of Mackay and is served by most of Australia's major airlines. QantasLink operates primarily Dash-8 and Boeing B717-200 aircraft into Mackay, with some services operated by Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 aircraft. Jetstar flys Airbus A320s into Mackay as many as four times a day from Brisbane - with direct services to the Gold Coast starting soon - and Virgin Australia fly predominantly Boeing B737-800 aircraft to Mackay from Brisbane and Sydney, with the occasional Embraer E-190 flying in. Tiger Airways again flys to Mackay from Melbourne with Airbus A320s after withdrawing during 2011.

The passenger terminal is located on the Western side of the airport, and features an observation area where unfortunately, photos are near impossible due to the many layers of glass. In recent months, Virgin Australia and Qantas have opened dedicated lounge facilities inside the Mackay Airport terminal, and the terminal building has undergone significant redevelopments also in recent months.

Also on the Western side of the Airport are the hangars of some small local operators and the Central Queensland (CQ) Rescue Helicopter Service. The Freight and Fly-in Fly-Out (FIFO) and other charter flight parking areas are also located nearby.

The best places for photos on this side of the airport are located along the fence lines to the North and West of the terminal (near the freight sheds) where Pel Air SAAB 340B freighters and visiting bizjets are usually parked, and near CQ Rescue where their helicopters, Toll Express Metros, and light charter aircraft are usually parked.

On the Eastern side of the airport are the hangars of Mackay Helicopters (pictured below with Bell 222 VH-TOR and Bell 206 VH-CKP waiting for their next flights).

The Whitsunday Helicopters and Horizon Airways hangars can also be found on this side of the airport.

There is also a light aircraft parking ramp which is actually part of the old domestic terminal from the days when Fokker F-27s and Douglas DC-9s flew into Mackay Airport.

The nearby fence lines near these areas offer great views over the main runway 14/32, particularly in the morning with sun at your back.

There are also maintenance facilities and the main light aircraft parking area near Gate 5.

Lastly on this side of the Airport are The Mackay Aero Club and Mackay Tiger Moth Museum (pictured below). From these locations, the runway can also be seen, and again, these spots are good for photos in the morning.

By far the best and probably most popular location for photos however, is along the Northern perimeter of the airport along Bridge Road. This road overlooks the entire airport and is directly under very short finals for Runway 14 (the most commonly used runway).

Recently added "No Standing" signs have meant that enthusiasts and visitors alike can no longer actually park under the approach path, although parking is available away from the approach path of Runway 14, and in the nearby side streets. The views from these areas - as shown above and below - are still equally good.

Departing aircraft can also be photographed lining up for Runway 14, or on the rare occasion airborne departing Runway 32.

As the nearby football stadium was being built, the access road to the General Aviation side of the airport, Casey Avenue, was closed for road works. A new temporary access road off Bridge Road was opened and still remains in place. This road hugs the fence-line at the touch-down zone of runway 14 and could be a nice place to take photos.

Lastly, there are also possibilities for photos of aircraft on final approach to Runway 14 from one of the various motels along Nebo Road. The photo below of a Surveillance Australia (Australian Customs Service) Dash-8-200 (VH-ZZP) is an example taken from the Comfort Inn The Rose Motel.

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