Are you a plane spotter? Is aviation in your blood? Okay, last question: Are you anywhere near Charlotte, North Carolina? If you answered yes to those questions, then there's a spot in Charlotte that should be on your must-visit list. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (KCLT) has an overlook that is a great place to watch airplanes come and go, and you can snag some nice photos while you're taking it all in.
Established under the Works Progress Administration in 1935, the facility opened under the name Charlotte Municipal Airport, before changing its name to Douglas Municipal Airport, in honor of former Mayor Ben Elbert Douglas, Sr. In 1982, the name was changed to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. It's the seventh busiest airport in the world (2015 statistics), in terms of aircraft movement, which makes for ample opportunity to watch arrivals and departures.
The overlook area sits adjacent to runway 18-C, which used to be 18-R until the addition of the airport's newest runway, which parallels Interstate 485. The viewing position is slightly elevated above the field, and features a walking trail, picnic tables, and park benches, where you can sit back and watch the planes do their thing. It's a great place to take the kids, but it's just as cool as an adult. If you're goal is aviation photography, the winds determine the direction of arrivals and departures, so make sure you're in tune with the traffic pattern. LiveATC is a great app that you can download for your smartphone, and it's available for both Apple and Android devices. It adds to the experience, so I recommend listening in, if you're an aviation geek as much as I am.
KCLT is the second largest hub for American Airlines, so you'll be seeing a lot of their birds in action. You'll spot others here and there, but American is by far the most prevalent. As far as aircraft types go, you'll see everything from single-engine Cessna prop-spinners all the way up to big birds like the Airbus A330. Each comes with its own character, but the large aircraft (like the 330) are the head turners, especially when they firewall the throttles and boom down the runway.
So the next time you're in the Charlotte area and have some time to kill, be sure to visit the Charlotte Douglas Airport Overlook (click link for map). You'll become a little kid looking skyward, all over again.