Watching jumbo jets roar in to Heathrow airport just a few feet above your head, seconds from touchdown, is a fun way to spend a few hours and a great way to appreciate the awesome power of these massive machines.
The official viewing areas within the airport boundary don't give you a chance to get particularly close to the action. Instead, head for a great location at the eastern end of the airport, just outside the perimeter fence.
To get there, take the tube to Hatton Cross underground station, which happens to be one stop before Heathrow Terminal 4 station.
From there all you need to do is walk a short distance along Hatton Road, till you come to Myrtle Avenue on your right. Walk to the end of Myrtle Avenue (it's very short) and you'll come to the viewing point, a large expanse of grass fairly close to runway 27L.
It's a popular spot for plane enthusiasts, photographers, mums and dads with their kids, or those who simply want the thrill of watching the jumbo jets skim the roofs of the houses on Myrtle Avenue.
Here's some important advice though - before you go, be sure to check this website, which lets you know which of Heathrow's runways is being used for landing.
If the wind is blowing in a particular direction, air traffic control won't bring the planes in on 27L. Most of the time, however, 27L is in use. Of course, wind direction can change quickly, so you may just have to be lucky.
If you wait long enough, you'll eventually get to see one of the awesome Airbus A380s fly in.
This relatively new jumbo is currently the world's largest passenger plane, with a wingspan of an incredible 80 metres. The other really big plane is, of course, the Boeing 747 - you're guaranteed to see plenty of those.
Keep in mind that some of these jumbo jets are LOUD - you might want to go with a pair of earplugs.
The wind must be blowing from the East, South East or North East for the planes to land towards Myrtle Avenue. Also you need to know which part of the day the Southern runway is in use for landing as it changes at 3pm and alternates weekly. ie. this week beginning 1st Aug '11 they will be coming in on the northern runway from early morning until 3pm and the wind is in the East today (Mon) so Myrtle Ave will be good for plane spotters after 3pm. Not so good for residents though. Good weather very often means an Easterly wind direction but not always, so check the Meteorological Office website too. I live under the flight path used when the winds are Westerly, which is the prevailing wind over this country, unfortunately. Enjoy!
By cmhp1 - reader Monday, 1st of August @ 11:56 am
Thanks for all that extra info!
By Trev M - senior writer Tuesday, 2nd of August @ 04:35 am
Im amazed at omhp1's knowledge of the planes that fly. Ive taken lately to watching small craft fly across where I am to a regional airstrip, but not thought of being a big plane watcher. I love watching the planes come and go when Im at the airport though, Its like a movie scene with all the different people travelling and all the different stories with each.
By Jody Kimber - senior reviewer Tuesday, 30th of August @ 12:12 pm