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Taking a Day Trip to Plane Spot in (freezing) Anchorage

Spotters on the back of a Ford F150 taking photos of a Korean Air Cargo Boeing 747-8F.

Spotters on the back of a Ford F150 taking photos of a Korean Air Cargo Boeing 747-8F.

For me, the photo above is the essence of what it means to be an AvGeek. Not many people could understand why I would be willing to get up at 3:30am in the morning, hop on a flight from Seattle to Anchorage to take photos of airplanes for the day in below zero temperatures before getting back home at about 10:30pm. If the thought of that excites you — then you are surely an AvGeek.

Nippon Cargo Air Boeing 747-400F in special green livery. JA04KZ.

Nippon Cargo Air Boeing 747-400F in special green livery. JA04KZ.

I can admit that I am not  die-hard plane spotter. I think I am probably too weak. Sitting outside waiting all day for the perfect shot normally doesn’t appeal to me. But then again, Anchorage is different. It is a main hub for large Boeing 747 aircraft to make a technical stop from Asia before continuing on their journey. So when given the chance to spot for the day (I have never done it before at ANC), I jumped at the chance. Well… I wasn’t so excited when my alarm went off at 3:30am, but it was all well worth it.

I woke up just in time to catch some of the sweet views into Anchorage.

I woke up just in time to catch some of the sweet views into Anchorage.

Our flight out of Seattle went well… I think. I remember boarding. I think I remember taxiing, but I surely do not remember take off — I was asleep. After picking up our rental truck (thought we needed 4-wheel drive, but the roads were actually okay), we were off to look at airplanes.

It is a bird. Nope, it is a plane. Wait, wrong again. It is a moose.

It is a bird. Nope, it is a plane. Wait, wrong again. It is a moose.

One of the first great spots that we had was not a plane; but a pair of moose (mooses? meese?). Yes, I know I looked like a total tourist pulling over to take photos of the local wildlife, but I didn’t care, I hadn’t seen one in the wild before. The moose above was interested in a bicyclist (and omg, I saw like half a dozen people riding their bikes in this freezing weather — wow) and I watched at the guy got off his bike and climbed a nice embankment to avoid the moose. I was using a long lens and stayed close to the truck — I heard that they can be quite aggressive.

I haven't seen a Boeing 737-200 take off in a while. Check out that smoke out of the engines.

I haven’t seen a Boeing 737-200 take off in a while. Check out that smoke out of the engines.

I came prepared: long underwear, hat, gloves, multiple jackets and more. But I was still freezing. The whole -1deg F temperature wasn’t too bad, it was the 10-15mph wind that was a killer. I could only stay outside for a few minutes before having to retreat back to the warm truck (yea, I am a wuss).

Two Korean Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F's welcome the new 747-8F.

Two Korean Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F’s welcome the new 747-8F.

But I have to say that I loved spotting in Anchorage. Where else can you get a collection of small aircraft and big aircraft with almost no medium sized aircraft like this? The small ones are used to shuttle people around the region, while the large ones are mostly making technical stops to fuel up before continuing their long journeys.

Eva Cargo Boeing 747-400F and MD-11F.

Eva Cargo Boeing 747-400F and MD-11F. Photo taken from inside the airport.

The day was long, but it went quick. We knew it would be a quick process to get through security at ANC, so we waited until the last minute to head back over to the terminal. Turns out that not only was gas pretty far away for the truck, but someone (okay it was me) missed the exit for the car rental return, so we ended up missing our flight. Luckily there was another flight to Seattle only two hours later that we were able to make.

Not everyone can understand making a day trip up to Anchorage, but that is what us AvGeeks do — I am sure most of you understand.

SEE ALL THE OTHER ANCHORAGE SPOTTING PHOTOS ON FLICKR

This story written by…David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder.

David started AirlineReporter.com in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

@AirlineReporter | Flickr | YouTube

6 comments to Taking a Day Trip to Plane Spot in (freezing) Anchorage

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