Frankfurt Airport. Dear readers. Today I want to go on a hunt with you. We will try to catch some of our planet’s biggest flying aluminium cans. Our planespotting hunting ground is some of Europe’s vastest and most impressive ones. Frankfurt Airport (EDDF/FRA). Our quest starts early, so grab yourself a good cup of coffee, buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Frankfurt Airport – Germany’s Largest Airport!
End of July. 04:30 in the morning. Our trip starts early Today. Nothing that caffeine cannot fix! The weather forecasts promised perfect German summer weather. Overcast, light rain, as well as a temperature of just over 20 centigrades. Our planespotting journey begins in our hometown, near Düsseldorf. From there, it will be a 1 hour and 45 minutes ride to Frankfurt Airport.
So, let’s pack together our hunting equipment. For this planespotting trip, we took three cameras and two tri-pods with us in total. That’s because we did not only want to photograph the giant planes. We also wanted to film them to edit a short-movie. The rest of our gear consisted of a Canon 100-400mmL II lense, a 55-250mm STM lense, as well as a Sigma 35mm ART prime lense.
Before we depart, let me briefly list some key facts about Frankfurt Airport:
- Frankfurt’s IATA code is FRA, while its ICAO code is EDDF
- FRA is the largest airport in Germany, in front of Munich and Düsseldorf
- The airport is the main hub of Deutsche Lufthansa
- In 2016, more Frankfurt handled more than 60.000.000 passengers
- In the same year, over 2.000.000 tonnes of cargo went through FRA
- All of that resultet in 462.855 movements in 2016
- Frankfurt Airport has four runways in total
- Runway 25R/07L, 25C/07C, 25L/07R and runway 18
- Runway 18 must only be used for take-offs. 25R/07L is for landings only!
A Golden Morning at Frankfurt Airport – Viewing Platform 07L/25R
The ride to the airport was fun. To fight our tiredness, we turned up the volume of the radio and listned to some awesome songs. It was raining cats and dogs on the Autobahn 3. But some thirty minutes later, the rain vanished and was replaced by a more-than-awesome-sunrise. Perfect for some morning spotting, right?
The first point of interest was the relatively newly built landing runway 07L/25R and its observation point right beside the taxiway. By making use of the Flightradar 24 app we knew, that some awesome heavy aircraft would await us. We were not disappointed. For the first time in my rather young life, I had the chance to see a Lufthansa Cargo Boeing 777F.
Another highlight followed soon, namely because an Air Canada Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner touched down smoothly in front of us. This baby was still wearing the “old” Air Canada painting scheme.
We took great advantage of the perfect light conditions in the morning and stayed a little longer. Watching all the heavies passing by was really relaxing for us, but not for our cameras, since the shutter button was in use almost constantly. Poor mirror!
Planespotting at the Line-Up Runway 18
It was time to move on (how poetic!) because some clouds appeared that turned the sky grey. We went back to the car, buckled up, and drove a few hundred meters to the next planespotting point, which is also my favourite location at Frankfurt airport since one can shoot amazing and dramatic close-ups there. The line-up of runway 18. Runway 18 is a runway for departures only and is 4000m long.
This runway was opened in 1984, back in a time when Frankfurt faced increasing traffic demand mixed with too low supply in terms of infrastructure. The opening of this runway caused a massive public outcry and protests by environmentalists and inhabitants of the surrounding cities, because of the fear of an increasing noise pollution and harms to the nature around Frankfurt Airport. The protest even lead to a killing of a police officer! There was similar protest a few years ago, prior to the construction of the new landing runway 07L/25R. But let’s go back to photography, shall we?
The line-up of runway 18 is perfect to watch the aircraft departing on runway 18 and, with large focal length, even on 25C. It is also perfect for photographing incoming traffic on runway 07R. We went to the fence, and try to lurk through it.
A giant wale-…I mean Singapore Airlines A380 was getting ready for departure. What a massive beast!
Time for a Break!
It was now time to move on once again since our worst enemy presented itself. Our stomach cried for something to eat. That is why we grabbed the car and found a nice place to have (yet another) coffee and a proper lunch. Also, we took the chance to clean our lenses, import some pictures and to recharge our camera’s batteries.
Frankfurt Airport Planespotting Point Autobahn 5
After our batteries and stomachs were filled, we drove to the other side of Frankfurt Airport, right next to the former area of the US Rhein-Main Airbase. This USAF installation was opened in 1945 and closed 60 years later, in 2005. This point can be reached quite easily by following the Autobahn 5 for a few kilometres until the exit to Zeppelinheim. The signs will lead you to a bridge you have to cross. After that, it will be another turn to the left into a small forest. When you reach the parking lot, you have to leave the car and follow a trail for some hundred metres until you reach the observation terrace. There, you have an amazing view on aircraft arriving on runway 25L.
This place is not only great for incoming traffic, however, because one can watch the apron traffic amazingly well, too!
Frankfurt Airport – Off to the Affenfelsen!
Slowly, but steadily, it was getting late. We planned to conclude our day at one of the maybe most famous points for spotters at Frankfurt airport. The Affenfelsen, which can be translated as “The monkey-hill”. This viewing platform is one of Frankfurt Airport’s two official planespotting points outside of the airport area. The word “monkey” is amazingly applicable in this context since the artificial hill is often quite overcrowded and some planespotters can behave like apes in order to protect their precious spot on the top of the hill. However, the “platform West” is ideal to watch 18 departures, 07C/R arrivals, and 25L/C departures. So did we!
This position was simply brilliant because I was able to “catch” my very favourite plane several times. The Lufthansa Boeing 747 in all its elegance and beauty. I will never get tired of this view.
This Video is, by the way, the result of our spotting-tour. Have fun watching it!
A Day at Frankfurt Airport. A Conclusion!
As you can see, Frankfurt has a whole lot to offer, because you can watch almost any kind of aircraft there. We have had a lot of fun at Germany’s largest airport and will come back soon, hopefully. I hope that you enjoyed this article. If you are interested in more aviation articles every week, feel free to subscribe to my email newsletter for free.
In the meantime, you can always crawl my other articles, of course.
- One Day in the life of a Lufthansa Boeing 747 pilot
- My planespotting-guide
- My aviation knowledge section
Have a great day, Aaron
advertisement: This post is sponsored by AVIPEO. Since its dawn, aviation has connected people from all over the world. Now is the right time to connect people in aviation as well. AVIPEO.COM is the first social network for the global aviation community. Visitors of the website can get the latest aviation news, find jobs and cooperate with companies on the B2B Market Place. I use the website myself and was able to connect to fellow aviators and photographers from all over the world! Click this link to check out their website!