Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 en route to London from Shanghai
I blog the more unusual and aesthetically pleasing aircraft movements in and out of Okęcie. Generally, air traffic above our heads consists of, as Eddie says, 'vanilla planes', ie the run-of-the-mill Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s that make up the bulk of commercial aviation world wide. ATR42s and '72s and BAe/Avro RJs are common too. The occasional military flight into Okęcie is worth watching out for (a pair of F-16s, a Hercules, a C-17 Globemaster, old Soviet-era transports).
When skies are clear over Warsaw (as they've been for most of this month), you can look further up - to 38,000ft, where planes that very rarely make an appearance on Okęcie's runways can be seen.
The Internet is wonderful for giving access to all kinds of interesting information. Lately, I've discovered a page with real-time air traffic radars for Warsaw and surrounding area and north western Poland. Most (not all) air traffic is shown - living on the flightpath, I'm aware of movements in and out that are not displayed on the Warsaw radar (mostly 'vanilla planes' of little interest to spotters). Each plane has it airline, flight number, registration number, airspeed and heading shown. From my window I can see, for example, a vapour trail at well over 30,000ft heading south. From the radar map, I learn that this is a Boeing 777, N701DN, Delta Airlines Flight DAL8, en route from Houston, Texas, to Dubai.
Emirates' Boeing 777 en route to London Heathrow from Dubai
But is this of interest to anyone? Seeing a Boeing 777 or Airbus A330 in Warsaw (a rare treat for spotters) leaves most people cold. One twin-engined jetliner looks just like any other, surely?
But to die-hard spotters, it's the detail. There's a lot of fascinating metal in the air. Take that Tupolev Tu204 of Russian charter airline Red Wings. I've never seen one close up, but as I write, there's one at 36,000ft on a heading of 247 degrees, north-west of Warsaw...
Boeing 747F cargo flight (operator unknown)
I've mentioned the extremespotting.com website before, set up by some guys in south-east Poland where intercontinental air routes intersect. They have ultra-powerful lenses and capture some stunning images of aircraft in flight at cruising altitudes.
The 80-400mm Nikkor even at full stretch cannot do justice to planes at cruising altitude, but even so, it gets you part way there. A 600m f4 Nikkor has just made it onto my wanted list...
This time last year:
First barn swallow of 2008 flies in
Feeding the swans