Disclaimer! With today's heightened airport security, particularly in the United States, spotting and aviation photography is viewed as a suspicious activity and may result in the spotters/photographers being approached and questioned by local and airport authorities. The information presented on Photovation's spotting pages represents legal activities at the time we spotted at the subject airport, however, there is no guarantee you will not be stopped, questioned and told to leave or worse. Your decision to visit these areas is your own free choice and whatever happens is your responsibility. We advise you to stay within the letter of the law and act responsibly so we can continue to enjoy our sport freely.

Miami International Airport - MIA

Last visited: January 2005 - Next planned visit January 2006

First let me apologize for the crudeness of the map. I would have loved to copy a nice map and insert it here, but I am observing copyright laws by not doing so. The map below is good enough to give you the information you need to know, and purchasing a detailed road map will fill in all the missing links.

Miami is an excellent airport to spot and take photos at. For one thing they have remained "spotter friendly" through these turbulent times. And, another important point for many, you don't need a terribly long lens to get good pictures at Miami. Of course with a long lens you might be able to get some shots that you would otherwise not be able to get, but it's a nice to have rather than a necessity as it is at JFK in New York.

A basic map just to give you an idea of the layout and locations for
spotting at MIA. If you are driving I would suggest you purchase a
detailed Miami map and refer to it and not this map.

The traffic at Miami is very interesting. Being one of the United States busiest airports and a main entry point for South American flights, Miami offers a host of airlines and aircraft types in both passenger and cargo flavors. You're sure to get some wonderful photos if you spend a couple of days hanging around Miami.

Another wonderful feature about Miami is that two runways, 09L and 12, can be shot from a single location (the Holes) and offer some unique shots, like over/under (an aircraft in position on 12 while an inbound aircraft for 09L passes overhead in the background).

Recommended locations for active runways:

09L Arrivals and 12 Departures: Spot A
09R Arrivals: Spot B
27L Departures: Spot C and maybe D
27L Arrivals: Spot D
27R and 30 Arrivals: Spot E


Important! In the sample pictures shown there are two mm numbers below each picture (200/300 mm). The first number represents the mm that the lens was set on to take the picture and the second the equivalent mm for the digital multiplier. If you have a normal film camera you would need the equivalent of the second number to get the same shot.

Now, about spotting and photography at MIA. MIA is much easier to spot at than JFK. While they are a multi-runway operation the layout is much more suited to photography than at JFK. The favored location by far is the Holes located near the Customs building. From there you can shoot departures on 12 and 9L and also arrivals on 9L. You can even get the great over/under I mentioned earlier.

Point A - The Holes - Departures on 30 and 9L and arrivals on 9L: If you come onto airport property from NW 25th St. you shouldn't have any problems finding the Holes by the Customs building. Miami International, being hospitable to us photographers, has graciously placed holes in the fence that you can stick your lens through to get un-obscured shots. Makes it very easy!

Now, some shots from the location to show you the kinds of pictures you can expect. These are all digital and are the full frame shot with no cropping and have not been post processed to improve quality.

80/120 mm
Taca 12 /Virgin 09L

250/375 mm
Landing 09L (heat haze possible)

310/465 mm
Landing 09L (heat haze possible)

330/495 mm
Turning onto 12

85/127 mm
In position on 12

330/495 mm
In the line up for 09L

130/195 mm
Departing 27L

165/250 mm
Inbound to 09R

80/120 mm
Inbound 09R

Personally I prefer the action shots over the side-on shots, so the Holes are perfect because it lets you do both. Landing shots on 09L can suffer from heat haze though so be prepared for it when you see it.

Point B - For arrivals on 09R: This spot is at the dead end of 172nd St. and right down from the airplane model shop. It's located next to a furniture store (I think its name is El Dorado Furniture, but I'm not positive). Park on the street and not in the furniture store's parking lot. They don't like it when you park and take pictures from their lot. I don't have many shots from here. Truth is, if the Holes are active then that's the place you want to be.

Point C - For departures on 27L: Leaving Point B turn left at the first light and you will be on Perimeter Road. It runs the entire length of 09R/27L. As you drive along you might notice an area that's been blocked off with holes in the fence. This used to be a good spot but it's off limits now. A little further up on the right you'll see a large dirt area and there will probably be cars parked there facing the airport. When we were last there in January 2003 the authorities would chase you from the spot occasionally, but you could usually stay there quite some time without being asked to move. Remember, safety in numbers and you're probably not alone here by a long shot. The locals frequent the area just to watch the action.

400/600 mm

220/330 mm

160/240 mm

195/300 mm

80/120 mm

195/300 mm

Point D - For arrivals on 27L and 30: This isn't the best spot and you will need a long lens to catch action shots from here. But, if the authorities are chasing you from Point C then this is the perfect place to sit and wait until you know something good is coming and then run down to Point C and catch it. Continue down from Point C toward the east and you will come to a light on Red Road. Make the right and go to the next light and make a U-turn. Proceed just past the Rt. 836 overpass and turn into the Squadron 44 (not sure of the name) restaurant. Park in the rear of the lot facing the airport and the inbounds will be coming from your left side.

400/600 mm

400/600 mm

400/600 mm

You can see from the shots above you're either shooting at max mm. Not the best place, but you have to do something when MIA is using the 27s.

Point E - For arrivals on 27R: Finding a suitable place to shoot the inbounds on 27R is difficult. You'll need to be on the east end of the airport and that's where all the commercial business operations are. The shots below were taken standing in front of the Avis Rent-A-Car center. At the time the lot across the street was vacant and just dirt, but it looked as though they would be building something in the near future. Don't be surprised if you find a building there now. From this spot you have a short time to get the inbounds as they come over a group of trees and pass before you. Not the best place, but doable when they are using the 27s.

400/600 mm

210/315 mm

185/275 mm

Hope this helps you get some nice shots of the MIA aircraft.
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