Great shooting opportunities at McCarran Int’l Airport in Las Vegas!

Southwest 737-700 N286WN rolling out on 25L
Southwest 737-700 N286WN rolling out on 25L in Las Vegas

 

If you’re into planes as much as gambling and partying, then Vegas is an under-the-radar kind of airport for some great plane action…  The airport and surrounding plain is nearly perfectly flat with lots of nearby structures to get above the fences. There is an observer’s park on the south side along the fence, but I also found myself standing on top of electrical boxes and landscaped hills on adjacent commercial properties to get full unobstructed views of RWY 25L and R. The sun angle is really good (rear) all day and you can get some different backgrounds what with all the casino’s and mountains nearby. Traffic is a LOT of small and medium aircraft from Southwest and Allegiant, but there was a Virgin 747 in fall 2013 (when I visited) and the closeness (with appropriate lenses) more than makes up for the aircraft composition. Just remember you’ll get a lot of heat waves when its warm (which is nearly always) so focus carefully and shoot a lot (which I always do) to get enough coverage to choose from. I shot all of these with a Nikon D7000 paired with a TC-20E III on a Nikon 300mm 2.8 AFS VRII.

Virgin 747-400 G-VROY "Pretty Woman" on final approach to RWY 25L
Virgin 747-400 G-VROY “Pretty Woman” on final approach to RWY 25L

 

Sexy undercarriage on another Virgin 747, G-VROS "English Rose"
Sexy undercarriage on another Virgin 747, G-VROS “English Rose”

 

JetBlue A320-232 N775JB taxiing
JetBlue A320-232 N775JB taxiing

 

Southwest 737's arriving and departing into the late sun
Southwest 737’s arriving and departing into the late sun

 

 Secret Bonus! One of several unmarked Boeing 737-600s, N869HH flies top-secret personnel to and from Area-51 (Nellis AFB)
Secret Bonus! One of several unmarked Boeing 737-600s, N869HH flies top-secret personnel to and from Area-51 (Nellis AFB)

 

One thing I *always* do when traveling is plan to shoot from within the airport while I’m waiting for my next flight. Think about it! You are as close as you can get without working airside, you’ll have time to watch and plan for different aircraft arriving and taxiing, and all you need is a camera and some clean windows. You’ll get angles you can never get from outside the airport fence and it’s just fun to watch the action! The downside is always carrying a heavy backpack or carry-on with lenses and bodies inside but that’s the price we pay for better shots!

 

Delta N689DL, a 757-200 touches down on RWY 25R
Delta N689DL, a 757-200 touches down on RWY 25R

 

 A different kind of aircraft, a juvenile Anna's Hummingbird, stops for lunch at Sunset Park right across from LAS.
A different kind of aircraft, a juvenile Anna’s Hummingbird, stops for lunch at Sunset Park right across from LAS.

 

All in all, LAS is a great location to shoot at. You can shoot from a number of good spots around the airport and it’s so flat that you’ll get a great view regardless if you’re photographing or just taking a lunch break.

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