It couldn’t be true, could it? An English Bank Holiday graced by warm sunshine? It was a combination that I simply had to take advantage of; therefore, I was all set to head down to Heathrow for the day. But waking up on that Monday morning at the unwelcome time of 0430, I checked the forecast again just to make sure. The BBC suggested Heathrow would cloud over in the afternoon and I wasn’t really ‘up’ for the three hour trek, so I changed plans and headed up to Manchester Airport.
Of course, I didn’t trust the Manchester forecast either, but arriving just after 0700 to position alongside Runway 23L, it was a stunning morning and the departing Bank Holiday traffic was in full swing. I then received notification that the usually nocturnal Air Blue A340 had been delayed the previous day and had only arrived at 0530 in the morning. The new departure time was now 0930, but would it make it in time to use 23L before the switch to single runway ops?
There were some nice movements that I certainly needed in my catalogue, including a TUI Fly 767, but most things look so much better in the conditions I had. I was focusing on getting some nice close-ups of the departing traffic, to provide something different to my previous Manchester visits. One slight disappointment was the departing Lufthansa MD-11 which I positioned further down the runway for. To say he rotated like a rocket would be an understatement, surely an ex-fighter jockey!?!?
0930 had been and gone and still there was no word from the Air Blue 340, until finally he called push and start with about 20 minutes of 23L ops remaining. It was a close-run thing, the aircraft being the penultimate departure before the runway closed for the morning. I’d enjoyed shooting the departures as I hadn’t done this location for a while, but now I was in a bit of quandary as to what to do next.
I didn’t really fancy side-on shots of 23R departures from the mounds so I decided to treat myself to some expensive time on top of the Terminal 1 short stay car park. The top floor was pretty much deserted now car hire has moved on from here, and the only residents on top were a healthy number of spotters and photographers. The majority of movements were UK carriers including Monarch and Thomas Cook. Two hours came and went pretty quickly, setting me back £8.50 in the process!
A lot of the regular parking spots were very busy with it being a Bank Holiday, so I headed out to the approach to 05L to see departures from 23R head on. I knew the heat haze would kill the majority of the departures, but I arrived just in time for the A380 rotating. I stuck around for an hour or so, the only other really good movement being the departing Qatar Airways A330. Another dilemma then arose and I again plumped to incur more expense!
I decided to go on top of the Terminal 3 multi-storey car park to catch the landing 23R traffic. The sun was just about coming round by about 1700, and despite the various obstructions in the foreground and distracting objects in the background, it was a nice spot to finish the day. On checking the images later, heat haze was a bit of an issue here too, but I got enough keepers to make the £8.50 two hour stay viable!
I’d enjoyed the day based on shooting from so many different locations, it provided enough variety to make the traffic interesting and I’d picked up quite a few new things into the bargain. I just wished the car parking was a little cheaper!