At the end of last year, I was looking forward to some time off. Work had been pretty darn crazy in the last half, and I felt that I totally deserved heading off on a trip somewhere before visiting the family for the holidays. With luck, I found some shockingly good deals on airfare from SAN to MIA (via PHX) on America West Airlines for the days leading up to Christmas. Not one to turn down an opportunity to travel cheaply, I booked the trip without much thought. I mean really – what could go wrong hanging out in south Florida in the middle of winter?
Aviation photography was not the primary purpose of this trip, but I had heard many good things about the spotting opportunities at MIA so I made sure to bring my new Fuji MX-2900 with me (even though I know it was a piece of crap). I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to use it, but I figured I’d be kicking myself if I didn’t have a camera available. But no matter – I just wanted to travel and check out a place I’ve never been to before. If I managed to sneak in a bit of aviation photography along the way, so be it. But it wasn’t that important.
I left San Diego International Airport (SAN) mid morning on December 23, 1999 on an America West 737-300 to PHX. From there I connected to an America West A320 (N618AW) to MIA. It was a great flight, most probably because I was just thinking of the coming relaxation over the next few days. And hey – the scenery was pretty good too. Here’s a view out the window overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at sunset.
After several nice days of driving around Miami and Key West, I spent the last day of my trip (Christmas Day) driving around Miami International Airport (MIA) looking for good photo spots. It was a beautiful winter day – not a cloud in the sky, which is actually pretty darn rare for Florida any time of the year. I eventually found a set of railroad tracks along the south side of the airport that was directly under the approach path to runway 30. Perfect place to camp out for an afternoon! So with that I found a place to leave the car and I walked up the tracks until I was in range of the zoom lens on my pathetic Fuji MX-2900 digital camera.
I was actually rather proud of myself for finding such a good spot to take pictures of incoming aircraft. I got lots of goodies – stuff that I never saw in southern California: American Airlines 727’s and A300’s, Air Aruba MD-80’s, Falcon Air 727’s, Serveca 737’s, etc. Unfortunately, I have a poor quality digital camera. But no matter – it was a great experience, and I even got an email from a United Airlines 777 pilot shortly after uploading these pictures to airliners.net. Turns out I had photographed the aircraft he was piloting, and he wrote a quick note to say “thanks” for the pic. It was stuff like that which really ignites my passion for commercial aviation photography.