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SPC / GCLA - Spotting / Spotting in Santa Cruz de La Palma
Last update: 06/27/2007
AVIATION TOP 100 - www.avitop.com

Click to go to a chapter:
How to find
- "Catering" - Traffic - Frequencies - Spotting

Intro

The airport of La Palma has been built in the year 1970 with the 1.600m runway 01/19, since 1980 it has the length of today - 2.200m. SPC has no parallel taxiways - but will build one during the next years! The airport replaced an older one high up near the mountains, which had only 900m of runway and bad wind conditions a lot of days a year. Traffic at SPC is decreasing over the last few years. In 2013, the airport had 809,521 passengers in the 12,891 operations handled. Cargo traffic was only 577 tons. (Airport-Pictures: 1 - 2 - 3) The official site of SPC can be reached here.

Please note:

The airport of La Palma has been undergoing a lot of construction work - a new terminal with more parking positions, a new tower and more parking space for cars! Some of the spotting points in this description are subject to change or could have been closed meanwhile. Please check with the newest pictures on Google Earth before spotting at SPC!

If you are interested: More infos & photos about and of La Palma on our La Palma infosite (in german).


How to find the airport - an overview

This is an overview map of La Palma airport to show you the roads around the airport and give you a small idea where to find the spotting points.
This is a complete aerial overview of SPC

The airport is situated on the east side of La Palma - south of the main town Santa Cruz de La Palma near the touristic town of Los Cancajos on the territory of Mazo.

The eastern frontier of it is the Atlantic ocean. 

 
Picture Google Earth

 

"Catering"
In the terminal building you'll find a restaurant on the first floor (Terminal-location: see "PAX" on overview).  In Los Cancajos, just 5 minutes north from the airport by car, you can find lots of possibilities for "catering".



What can you expect? Traffic & Airlines
All in all La Palma is a quiet airport with mostly Charter traffic. Main season is winter, most quiet months are May and September. Scheduled flight traffic is low - the destinations are Tenerife North (nearly hourly service), Tenerife South (weekend), Las Palmas/Gran Canaria, El Hierro and Madrid (5x a week). Operating hours are from 8-21:30 GMT.

Most traffic is on Tuesday and especially Thursday, when you can see a lot of LTU, Condor (Th. Cook) and Air Berlin planes at SPC. Second best is Monday and Friday. You can see the more or less actual schedules for the german speaking area on this website or more up-to-date on the airport site. Charters including Belgium and Netherlands are here.  A winter 2006 flightplan for german flights is on this site.

Airlines
On the airport you may see the following companies on a more or less regular base: 
Luxair, Swiss, Condor (now also Th.Cook), Air Berlin, Virgin Express, LTU, Belair, Thomas Cook Belgium, Fischer, Air Plus Comet, Martinair, Transavia, JMC, Dutchbird, LOT, Hapag Lloyd, Iberia, Binter Canarias. Sometimes it's possible to see a private jet or a Fokker-27 plane of the spanish Navy! For destination El Hierro there was a chartered plane of Naysa Aerotaxis in 2002. A new Airline called "Islas" is flying to Tenerife Norte up to six times daily and to Gran Canaria one time daily since spring 2003 (with ATR-72). From Italy there is Blue Panorama flying from mailand to SPC since 2005. For winter 2005/06 Atlantique Air is another new flight once every week from Lisboa to La Palma.



Spotting Positions

General things about taking photos at SPC
You don't need very big lenses at SPC! For most of the traffic a 200mm lens is the maximum needed. You also won't need a ladder! Light is good from noon until early evening - only on position 3 and 6 you can make some morning shots! Remember the sundown is earlier on this eastern side of the island than on the west coast. 

More than 90% of the year RWY 01 is in use for landings and starts.

A radio scanner could be useful, as traffic is sometimes boring. Frequency for SPC-Tower is 118.9 MHz. 

By the way - we never had a problem with police photographing there.
A funny thing is, that you can photograph a plane landing, drive around the airport in ten minutes and can wait for the departure in peace!

If you like to see some spotting-pictures of the airport Santa Cruz de La Palma you can use these two links: Link 1 - Link 2 


Zoom =camera requirements, ladder =ladder use, light=light conditions, - =disadvantages of point)

A - Norhern part 

1. This is a so called "Mirador", an artificial observation point built high over airport and coastline. You will find it easy on your left side if you drive from Sta. Cruz in direction Airport. It is shortly after the (second!!) divergency to Los Cancajos. 
You will mostly see starting planes here on RWY 01. The smaller planes are already high in the air here. You will see a lot of the airport from here. If you like catching the planes as they lift off, you need some more zoom! (Picture)

 

2. This is a small but asphalted street short before the airport-tunnel on your right. You have to drive up the street until a sharp right turn. Park your car there and go to the roadside. Also on this point some of the planes are high up in the sky. And - you can see and hear them in the last second only. So it's better to have a scanner here. (Picture)

Zoom At least 150mm would be good

ladder At this point not necessary

lightGood from early afternoon.
 -
 
Small planes could be already high in the sky

Picture Google Earth

B - Southeast part


3. This is a nice place for morning shots if rwy 01 is in use. If 19 is in use, planes may be high in the sky here.

You drive along the airport and just before you pass the begin of runway 01 you have to turn left to the coastline into a small village of weekend houses (Playa del Hoyo). There you will find nice possibilities to make shots like this. (picture)

Zoom At least 100mm would be great

ladder Not necessary

lightGood in the morning 

 6a & 6 b. This is the terminal building. In the morning you can take limited pictures left of the building, near the cargo hall (6b) (Picture), or through the windows of the airport restaurant towards the apron (6a) (Picture), but you have to cope with dusty windows there. Don't know how long this will be possible, because the old terminal is going to be closed as soon as the new one is ready. 

The building unfortunately has no observation deck. (It's a small airport...) Don't know, if the new one will have something like that?

Zoom At least 100mm would be great for 6b, 50mm for 6a (apron)

ladder Not necessary

lightGood in the morning 

 

Picture Google Earth

C - Southwest part


4. A nice place to make pictures of landing aircrafts on 01. You drive completely around the airport and stay on the street! After some turnings you have a divergency of a dusty road on the right side where you can park without disturbing other cars. 

If you have already passed the radar dome on your right you have been driving to far! (Picture)

5 a & b. This is our favorite photo point. You drive downward the dusty road from point 4 and turn right on a good asphalted road (or you stay on the main street a few meters and turn right directly in this new road).  Drive the street down until you have a free view on the airport. On the left there is a small possibility for parking. On this position you can vary a little bit, for example drive down and the next road (unfortified) left into direction of a tank farm until you can look above the airport fence. These positions are great! (Picture)

You can drive down to the airport fence and turn right then to get back to the main street, but be warned: This road is very bad! 

Important: The constructionworks are going on at SPC - they'll build a new taxiway - so not all points will be reachable for you!

Zoom At least 100mm would be great for 6b, 50mm for 6a (apron)

ladder Not necessary

lightGood in the afternoon 

Picture Google Earth

If you have any questions/corrections/additions (e.g. the used zoom, concerning positions, planes etc.) please contact me via the adress in the left frame( front page ) of this site.

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