Glenn Beasley's 2011 blogGAR Entries

JAN 16 2011
Trekking round Ringway

I was quite amazed to find that the last time I had visited Manchester was exactly a year ago to the day, the 9th January 2010. That day had seen inches of snow on the ground whilst one year on I was hoping for the same blue skies which had made that day so good.

I arose at silly o’clock, around 0430, and was on the road just after 5am, with the idea of doing some night time shooting off the top of the Terminal 1 short stay car park. One or two traffic issues along the way meant I didn’t arrive until around 0645 and to my disappointment there was nothing on the nearest stand on Terminal 2. However, soon after, the Singapore 777 taxied in and we were off and running.

There was quite a stiff breeze blowing and getting a steady shot was proving difficult. I give great credit to anyone who posts nicely exposed, richly coloured night images from the world’s airports, as it’s not an easy task. With a couple of usable shots in the bag I decided to head off, but having stayed about an hour, the car park set me back £4.80!

Heading to the bottom of 05R, there was a steady stream of traffic heading off 23L, but once into a reasonable shooting position, it was single runway ops, and on 23R at that, so I changed plan and headed for the end of that runway. It really is a great spot, better in the colder months, due to the summer heat really ruining any chance of decent shots. I’ve done some nice head on work here before and with the A380 coming in at just gone midday it would be an ideal chance to get a nicely lit head on shot of the Super Jumbo.

Plenty of focal length is the requirement at this location and I was using the 50D with 300m f2.8 and 1.4 converter. Anything from the size of a 767 upwards was good, with some nice departures from the Thomas Cook and US Airways A330s, the latter catching a BA shuttle on approach in the same frame.

The A380 approach when it came was quite dramatic, seemingly quite high, so much so I thought he was going around at one point! It was equally impressive to have him coming towards me, getting bigger and bigger in the frame for a series of different crops. That was part one of the A380 scenario of the day, the next involved a further hike back to the end of 05R for the afternoon rotation.

I made sure I was in place by 1330 for the departure, having not shot down the runway from this end either, I needed to work out where was best to go. 2pm came and went and the chat on the radio from EK018 informed me that the tug for the big bird was broken so there was to be an unspecified delay. By around 2:45pm I was getting increasingly concerned the gorgeous conditions would not last much longer.

Further confusion over the flight plan worsened my spirits, the pilot stating he had filed it three times, but Air Traffic hadn’t heard anything!!! The pilot also didn’t want to start up and taxi to hold either as suggested by ATC, therefore it wasn’t looking good.

Then all of a sudden the go ahead came and the mighty white one was crossing 23R for 23L. Starved of anything to shoot for over an hour, there’s always the chance you might mess it up. I stuck with the same combo as earlier, lens wise, hoping she wouldn’t get too big on me too soon. Thankfully it all worked out in the end. I was quite pleased with the results, my favourite images not being the runway rotation shots as planned, but the aerial views of the wheels being tucked away. The delay had probably made the light even better in hindsight.

It was then time to go, with one last drama of the car struggling to escape the ditch it was left in, the mud trying to persuade me to stay for the sunset finale. Not to be on this occasion, but it certainly won’t be another year until my next visit.

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