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DFW Founders' Plaza (planespottin' in Dallas/Fort Worth)

Started by Sentinel Chicken, September 25, 2008, 08:30:02 AM

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Sentinel Chicken

The new DFW Founders Plaza spotting park opened earlier this month and you bet your arse I've been availing myself of every possible opportunity to go there- if you haven't checked out the new location just north of Texan Trail and SH114/SH121, do so. It's a lot nicer than the older Founders Plaza that used to be on the SE side of the airport.

There are four pedestal mounted binoculars free to use, picnic tables, sun canopies, and the tower frequency is piped in loud and clear. The site is built on a small knoll that keeps it well above the perimeter fence and you have a great view of the UPS ramp, the thresholds of 18L and 18R, and panoramic views of Terminal B and International Terminal D.

I took these shots early in the morning about a week ago and the weather was very much so-so throughout the day. But well worth the time chillin' out there.

^This is the entrance sign just of West Airfield Drive. The landscaping had just been finished and the previous day was the opening day festivities for the new Founders' Plaza.

^Sunrise at Founders' Plaza. The airport beacon is the centerpoint of the park. Eventually there will be a Texas veterans' memorial located here and there are plans for large scale pedestal mounted aircraft around the base of the airport beacon.

^North American 767-300 with a replacement nose cone- arriving on a regular military charter.

^Sailing in over the numbers.

^About to touch down, you can see how lousy the weather was this day. In the background is International Terminal D and the Grand Hyatt atop it. The plane got a water cannon salute when it turned off the runway to head to its gate at Terminal B.

^American 767-300 arriving from South America, I think.

^Later in the morning the sun came out for a bit and this is one of UPS' 767-300Fs getting prepped for loading.

^American MD-80 rolling on 18L with Skywest's 35th Anniversary CRJ-700 entering the northwest hold pad. In the background is the Skylink connecting Terminal A to Terminal B and the East Control Tower in the distance.

^Skywest 35th Anniversary CRJ-700 cleared to roll with an American 767-300 entering the northwest hold pad.

^Finally caught this one with the camera, this is the American "Working Together" MD-80. Plenty of the rank and file find this plane ironic these days. Terminal B in the background.

^Northwest Airlink/Compass ERJ-170 taking the active with an American MD-80 (because those are oh-so-damn-rare at DFW) following.

Enjoy, more to come!


Nice shots!  I used to get bored shooting airliners at CLT, but this makes me nostalgic all of a sudden. 
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Captain Canada

That's awesome. I wish we had a place to view a/c like that. The GTAA would rather treat spotters like terrorists, tho. Dumbasses. There's a nice place to view a/c in Edmonton, tho. Spent many an hour sitting under the path when I was there last.

Thanks for sharing !

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Sentinel Chicken

Airliners really aren't as fun to watch as military aircraft, but sitting out there at Founders' Plaza is a bit different of an experience for me- first of all, the airport is busy. There's always things coming in and out and because it's American Airlines main hub, anything different that's not baremetal with AA on the tail stands out in the crowd. Secondly, they pipe in the ATC so it's cool to hear stuff like "American 359 Heavy two mile final wind 180 at 10 cleared to land" and then in no time a 777-200 sails in over the numbers right in front of you.

This morning they were using one of the parallels for both takeoffs and landings (usually they're segregated to different runways) and the loudspeaker cracked "American 1218 go around" and right in front of me a 757 spooled up its engines, tucked in its gear and roared away to re-enter the pattern.

Thirdly, it's a popular place with families. Even in the early mornings when I like to go there are always a few folks milling about to enjoy the sights and sounds. I take the three Chicklets there regularly to school 'em on being the daughters of an aviation nut. We always have fun.


Sounds like so much fun ;D It a shame I am half way across the country and can't meet up with ya'll :blink:
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Sentinel Chicken

The last set of the best shots of that day, these were later in the day, the weather was better....slightly.....

^Daylight shot of the airport beacon looking north.

^Last of the classics! UPS has only 3 747-200Fs left in its fleet and they'll be retired in January, so I'm trying to get as many pics of 'em as I can. Love that classic look. The last -100 got retired in early August, wish I'd managed to catch one of those at the new spotting park!

^That's a lot of brown tail. *snicker* Notice the tail stands used to keep from tail sitting while loading. 'Cause that would get you on FAIL BLOG.

^The statues of the three children were moved from the old Founders' Plaza. It's entitled "Share the Dream" and was donated to DFW on its 25th Anniversary several years back by American Airlines. It's in a more prominent location now and makes for a cool backdrop for more artistic photos. In this shot, a United in battleship gray on short final.

^United 757 o/c sailing in over the numbers. Note the American Eagle ATR-72s in the background.

^UPS A300-600F headed out from the west cargo ramps.

^American 777-200 about the plant it in the TZ.....gotta dig that massive landing gear, it sure raises a lot of smoke when they grease it onto the concrete.

^Attempting something artistic with the statues with an American 757-200 with winglets. I think all of them have winglets now, I haven't seen an American 757 without winglets in a while.

^TACA PERU? Usually the flight that comes at this time in the afternoon is a regular TACA flight, maybe this was an equipment substitution?

^Continental 737-500 with winglets! First time I've seen one of these, interesting look to see winglets on such a stubby 737.

^Proctor and Gamble's Gulfstream IV, N2PG going long on the touchdown zone........

^What kid wouldn't dig the sight of a Trip Seven letting it all hang out on short final? Even the Chicklets were cheering this one on.



Hey JP, we might have to meet up there one day for some spotting.......

Sentinel Chicken

Earlier this week I had some free time early in the morning and decided to swing by Founders' Plaza to see what could be had with intent of catching the push back and departure of one of UPS' new 747-400Fs but instead found that usual morning flight being flown by the just as appealing MD-11F. Mmmmm, trijets. Three engines? Love it. Four engines? Love it, too, but three engines are just conceptually cooler to my mind. So here's a series of shots on a hazy morning of the UPS MD-11F pushing back off the ramp at the West Cargo Complex and headed out........

^Pushback. Most airlines have two guys "wing walking", making sure the wingtips clear any obstacles and don't hit anything, it seems that UPS only uses one "wing walker".

^Bit of a pause here, someone ran up to the tug driver for one reason or another. In the background is the American Airlines/American Eagle line maintenance hangars, and MD-80 has just left the area and is headed down Taxiway C.

^Right! Let's get on with it. Getting ready to unhook the tow bar, two MD-80s (because those are oh-so-rare at DFW) in the background.

^Nice donkey shot. You could see the horizontal stabs pivot upward, probably the pilots setting the tailplane trim, I presume? I've always thought the MD-11's tailplane looked too small compared to the DC-10's monster tailplane.

^Rolling towards Taxiway Charlie One. Korean 777-200 in the background just arrived, landing on 13R. He's holding short of 18R on Taxiway Whiskey Mike.

^Turning onto Charlie One, I love how the rising sun catches all the contours of the fuselage fairings and the different sections of the #2 intake trunk.

^Profile view. Check. MD-11. Check. Cargo bird. Check. What's not to love?

^Now headed down Taxiway Charlie. That Korean 777 sat there for a while. On this day 18L was closed and they were using 18R for both landings and takeoffs and that had anyone trying to cross 18R sitting for a while. Breakout the coffee and have some kim chee, boys, this is gonna be a while........

^I can't remember for the life of me which bridge is used to cross from West to East on the north side of DFW. There are two, the Yankee and Zulu Bridges. This one's headed down one of them. Bummer, I was hoping the departure would be off 18R on this day which would have put it REALLY close to Founders' Plaza.

^Crossing 18L and headed to the east side of the field. Love the early AM sunlight at this time of the day for spotting. It's not the best for shooting pics but can make for interesting looking photos, particularly when it's a hazy Ozone Level Orange day....the tower is the old Central Tower which I don't think is used any longer. You can see ATI's tasty 767-200F coming up Taxiway Foxtrot after arriving just minutes earlier........


The MD-11 is a wonderful plane! It has tons of thrust, and take-offs that seem near vertical! :wub:
If Boeing or McDonnell Douglas still built the MD-11, my profile name would be MD11ER :ph34r:

Sentinel Chicken

One of my friends worked the DFW TRACON for 25 years and handling an MD-11 was always a pleasure, the plane had more than enough to power to expedite just about any instruction he would give them. MD-11s and 757-200s were his favorites to handle and those to this day are the only ones I've seen rocket out of DFW like a homesick angel, even a lightly loaded 777-200 on a domestic run can't beat the MD-11.

Now the A340-200/300 on the other hand.....the joke at the TRACON was the aircraft climbs only because the ground falls away due to the curvature of the earth.

Sentinel Chicken

More shots from last week's forays out to Founders' Plaza. I'm really digging the new place- sure, spotting is better at the LAX Grassy Knoll or DCA's Gravelly Park, but a place designed from the outset for spotting complete with ATC being piped in on speakers? Hell, I'm happy.

On to the shots, this first set is from early in the morning just after sunrise. Makes for some challenging shots because of the ambient lighting conditions.

^What can brown do for you? UPS A300-600F all unbuttoned. They just finished unloading this one and you can see the lower deck cargo doors still open, even the aft bulk cargo door is still open. Note the tail stand in place. UPS 757 behind it on the adjacent parking stand.

^Finally caught this one on film! ATI's most delicious 767-200F sailing in over the numbers.

^ATI 767-200F going long on the touchdown zone and getting ready to plant rubber on concrete.

^For some reason I like this shot and how it came out. American MD-80 (which are more common than dirt at DFW) framed by the "Share the Dream" sculpture at sunrise.

^Piper Aerostar hauling donkey over the numbers. Don't see a lot of GA here other than the occasional bizjets (and most of them go to Addison, Love, Meacham or Alliance) so this was an unusual sight for DFW. This guy was bookin' it for landing. ATC asked this guy "real nice" to expedite his landing and runway exit.

^Usually from Founders' Plaza 18L is used for takeoffs (the inboard runway) and 18R is for landings (the outboard runway). But this particular morning we had a bit of a treat with 18L closed (you can see the big lighted "X" in the above shot), so departing flights crossed 18L and took off just a bit closer to Founders' Plaza which was nice to see. In this shot, an American 737-800 is holding for an arriving...you guessed it....another.....American MD-80......

^Of course with landings and takeoffs on the same runway it was inevitable that I heard the call over the ATC loudspeaker at Founders' Plaza: "American 1255, go around." "Going around, American 1255" and then right in front those CFMs spooled up, the pitch angle changed, the gear tucked in and this guy went around as there was still an American 737-800 on the runway.

^While relishing a 737-800 bookin' it out of the area on a go-around, the speakers cracked to life again with "Dynasty 25 Heavy, two mile final, cleared to land one-eight right wind 175 at 10" "Cleared to land one-eight right Dynasty 25 Heavy." In this day of twin jets, things with four engines are uber-frakking-cool.

^It's always cool to see 16 wheels plant it nice and square on the runway.

^United 737-300 still in the blue/gray colors starting its roll on 18R for Chicago.

More shots coming from later in the day!

Sentinel Chicken

Now for the shots from later in the day when I came back to Founders' Plaza to indulge in some "heavier metal" with some other tasty appetizers mixed into the meal:

^747 Classics! I'm trying to get pics of all of the remaining UPS 747-200Fs (I think there are only three left) before they leave service at the end of the year.

^Mmmmmm...JT9D engines. If you don't feel nostalgiac looking at those Pratt motors, you're a big fat pussy.

^Then a 747 freighter from other end of the timescale moves out from the West Cargo complex for an intersection takeoff on 18R......damn, it was a hazy day. Drove my allergies up the wall, but hell, it's all about airplanes.

^"Korean Air 36 Heavy cleared for intersection takeoff on 18R".....

^NWA Airlink CRJ900 sailing in over the numbers.....replacing what was a DC-9-30 flight just a few months ago........

^Here's Foxy taking the active....heat haze was really starting to build up by this point in the afternoon.

^Another Continental 737-500 that's been retrofitted with winglets! Love this look on the Stubby Guppy.

^And just minutes later came another one, only this one without winglets. I think one flight comes in from Houston and the other from Newark.

^Nice CLEAN Lufthansa A340 (you'll see what I mean later in this post) on short final. I've always liked the way the mains pivot waaaaaay back with the single centerpost main sitting up higher. Aircraft with fuselage mounted extra main gear units always score a few uber-cool points with me. Even for the A340!

^Sailing in just short of the threshold. I read somewhere that the A340 wing likes to fly and it really has to be dirtied up and powered back just to get the plane to land...which is funny considering what it takes to climb......

^Four engines are always worth a few more uber-cool points. From this angle I've always thought the A340 looked graceful. So many twin engine jetliners out there, something with a long wing and four engines always looks good to the eye, regardless of how much of a pig it is in climb.

^When Alaska restarted their service to DFW, they operated the flights with -400s. Now they're NGs. I can't quite tell from this shot- is this a 900? I think it's an 800 as I thought that the 900s were used mostly on west coast routes.

^American 777 on short final. Okay, so it doesn't have four engines and it doesn't have a centerpost main, but those big massive engines and bigfoot main landing gear get it some major uber-cool points in my book.

^Sailing in over the numbers for touchdown. Mmmmm, Rolls-Royce Trents. Dig 'em.

^This has got to be the filthiest looking KLM A330 I've seen so far at DFW. Sharp looking plane with the engine type that KLM uses (big exhaust spike! Uber-cool points!).

^Look at that grime! From each window! Sheesh!



Some great shots there JP!  CLT has a little observation area, but nothing that nice.  Love teh sculptures they have up there.

Do you ever see Tradewinds Cargo Airlines A300s over on the cargo ramp?  Thats what I was flying last time I was in and out of DFW, but since the filed CH11 and shrank drastically I dont know if they still go in there.

So I got that going for me...which is nice....


The Alaskan 737 looks like a -900 to me.

The AF-KLM plane has GE CF6s

Sentinel Chicken

Several days ago was the first time the wind was blowing out of the north when I had time to go to Founders' Plaza and that meant departures to the north which in all honesty makes for a less interesting time at the park. But all is not lost, I experimented with some manual settings, and later in the day got to catch some cool stuff.

^Early morning shot just after sunrise, trying to see if I could catch the sun illuminating the underside of the wings.

^All quiet on the UPS ramp for the moment...757-200F and A300-600F behind it. Usually when I get to Founders' Plaza this early in the morning I've just missed the departure of a UPS MD-11F but sometimes it's one of the new UPS 747-400Fs that I've been trying to catch......

^American 767-300 headed to the line maintenance hangars on the west side of the airport. I think that building in the distance on the right side of the picture is one of the buildings of the airline corporate HQ at Centreport.

^American 737-800 outbound. Probably the third most common aircraft at DFW after the MD-80 and the ERJ-145......

^United's Stubby Guppy (737-500) outbound for Chicago, this one still wears the old battleship gray colors.

^American 757-200 leaving the line maintenance hangars for the International Terminal. Looking over some of my spotting pics from just a year ago, there were no winglet-equipped 757s in the fleet........how times change.

^Later in the day I was able to make it back out to Founders' Plaza. This is N521UP, last week I was able to photograph N520UP. So now I have two of the three remaining 747-200Fs in the UPS fleet. Only one more to go.....

^USAirways A319 in the new colors headed out, bound for Phoenix.

^This MD-80 got everyone's attention. It departed in a rather shallow angle of climb. I mean, who's this Mad Dog think he is, a 727-200?;)

^Frontier A319, this is N937FR; "Carmen" the Blue Crowned Conure headed home to Denver.

^American 757-200 WITHOUT winglets! I didn't realize there were any left in the fleet that hadn't been retrofitted with the blended winglets. This one, as is standard 757 modus operandi, was climbing out like a homesick angel. Some of the lightly-loaded early morning 757 departures have impressive angles/rates of climb on departure.

^Skywest/Delta Connection CRJ900, I think this one was headed out to Salt Lake City. I think this particular flight is usually a CRJ700.

^"Korean Air 36 Heavy cleared for takeoff on Three-Six Right...." You can see the doors to the fuselage mains still closing.

^747-400F. Check. Cool livery. Check. Departing over my head? Check. What's not to love?

^Hasta la bye-bye, boys. I think this flight was on its way to Anchorage and then onward to Seoul.