Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC)

SJC Airport Map

Click the map to go to Google Maps satellite view of this airport

The San Jose airport is the smallest of the three bay area commercial airports. The dominant airlines here are Southwest and Alaska. International traffic at this airport is increasing with flights by All Nippon Airways to Tokyo and British Airways to London using the Boeing 787, Volaris to Mexico using the Airbus A320, and Air Canada Express to Vancouver using the CRJ-700. You will see a large number of business jets here thanks to being in the heart of Silicon Valley.

The location of this airport near downtown San Jose makes finding a spotting area difficult but luckily there is one excellent spot. At the corner of Airport Blvd and Coleman Ave, a block north of I-880, there is a parking lot that used to be for the San Jose State University Aviation Dept. building which is no longer there. With this location at the southwest side of the field, lighting for photography is good from afternoon on; however, during the summer months there will be heat distortion on most photos of aircraft on the ground. You’ll have to shoot over a fence, but you will have a good view of aircraft taxiing to and departing from runways 30L & 30R. Airline traffic will use the taxiway on the opposite side but business jet traffic coming from the FBO will be very close to the fence on the near side. You will not need a long zoom lens here and, since the typical traffic pattern uses the 30s for landing & departure, photography is good on any day.

One tip to get a better view over the fence is to walk on the grass toward the intersection. The ground rises here, and from the corner of Coleman & Airport Blvd you can easily shoot over the fence without any aid like a ladder. Shooting landing traffic is easy too and there will be less chance of heat haze. Follow the link below to see photos from the SJSU lot. It may also be possible to shoot some photos from the roof of the Terminal A parking garage but you will not have a view of the ramp and will need a decent length zoom lens for aircraft on runway 30L. This would be a morning-only spot facing southwest.