A weekend aviation photography trip to PIT and PHL

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It has been a while since I had traveled someplace for the sole purpose of taking pictures, and I was starting to get the itch again. My last such adventure was to ORD back in February, and I really enjoyed the feeling of jamming a weekend chock-full of something I enjoyed doing so much. Anyway, the itinerary I came up with for this trip was simple: SBN-PIT-PHL on Saturday, and PHL-PIT-SBN on Sunday – all via USAirways. I would stay overnight at the airport hotel at PHL, so there wasn’t even any need to leave the airport. Perfect!

I totally lucked out in regards to the weather. Even though I had booked this trip several weeks in advance, I figured that I could (at the very least) be able to get a lot of really good night shots at PHL if the weather was bad. But there was no need to relegate myself to that as it was totally clear and perfect in the region both Saturday and Sunday.  Really, I couldn’t have asked for better conditions.

My fight from SBN to PIT on Saturday the 3rd was aboard a USAirways Express ERJ-145, and the connecting flight to PHL would be aboard a 737-300. Not very exciting aircraft, but hey – I was as happy as an aviation geek could be as I made my way to Philadelphia. I did manage to get a few snapshots during my layover at PIT, but my time  there was short and I didn’t have much of an opportunity to look around. One thing I did notice was how desolate that airport was. I flew through PIT quite a bit in the late 90’s for work, and it seemed like a totally different airport back then – I’m not sure if I was there at an odd time or something, but it sure was a lot more quiet than I remember.  Nonetheless, I made it to my connecting flight for a quick and uneventful flight over to PHL.

Overview of PIT

USAirways A320

USAirways 737-300

USAirways 737-400

USAirways 737-300

USAirways MD-82

USAirways MD-82

USAirways F100

By the time we landed in PHL, I was getting excited. It was late afternoon and the sun was just starting to set, which meant that I had excellent light for shooting immediately upon entering the terminal. Finally, I was just moments away from being able to photograph USAirways planes of all kinds, a moment that I’ve been waiting forward to for quite a while. Yes, I am really adamant about having a nice collection of USAirways pictures before they are absorbed by United Airlines. So for the next few hours, I was in aviation photography bliss as I bounced around from terminal to terminal taking pictures of everything I could. I was pretty tired at the end of the day, and I remember falling asleep very easily that night.

My flight back to SBN was scheduled for mid morning the next day, but I was really looking forward to getting up early and getting as many sunrise shots as I could. Long security lines prevented that from happening though, as I wasn’t able make it through the security checkpoint until well after the sun came up. All was not lost though, as I was able to take a lot of pictures before getting on my flight back home.

Once again I connected in PIT, and was able to snap a few more pictures. However, one of my favorite pictures from the entire trip was on climb out of PIT on the way to SBN. Our aircraft took off in just the right spot on the runway for me to be able to snap a pic of a very busy looking Pittsburg International airport, crammed full of USAirways aircraft.

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