Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM)

Birmingham airport map

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Live Flight Tracking

Birmingham has a small airport and there is not a lot of variety. The most dominant airline is Southwest, so you’ll see their familiar orange and blue planes all day. Others include Delta (MD-80 and Regional Jets) along with American Eagle & United Express regional Jets.
 
There is a 2 lane road that runs nearly parallel to the main runway (6/24, 10,000ft), East Lake Rd., which is basically on a hill overlooking the runway and entire airport. You can pull off on the shoulder right by the fence and watch what little action there is. Also, this spot is close to the business and general aviation hangars so most of that traffic will taxi very close to this fence if they are going to take off on runway 24. The spots along this road for viewing are pretty much near the middle of the runway so to photograph planes at either end you’ll need a long lens. From this location you are facing southeast so available light for photography is only good during the afternoons from spring to fall.
 
Another decent spot is the top level of the parking garage. Since the new concourse opened in 2013, you can get a good view of aircraft (especially the Southwest gates) on the east side. You’ll also have a good view of activity on the runway, although you may have to deal with light posts when photographing. There is another spot not shown on the map which is the road that runs around the west end of the runway 6-24 where you can get a close up view of planes approaching for landing on runway 6. To get here you would make a right at the light on East Lake Rd and it will curve around the end of the runway leading to the FedEx terminal. The new terminal also has an observation deck and food court seating facing the ramp but it is within the secure zone.
 
I should also mention that on the north end of the airport there is the Southern Museum of Flight with an outdoor display area containing some old military jets as well as several more displays inside the museum building. The Alabama National Guard has the 117th Aerial Refueling Squadron based here at the Birmingham airport, so you may see KC-135 tankers coming and going occasionally.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 N720WN

Click for photos from East Lake Rd.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 N945WN

Click for photos from the parking garage

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