From the airports authority email and Google Maps, I really didn't expect much more than a dusty lot with a couple of abandoned car seats. Turns out that TLV now has an astonishingly good spotting platform:Getting there
This is located just to the east of the tanks at the 08 threshold. They've very thoughtfully put this on the south side of the airfield.
The whole area appears to have been developed into proper parking since Google were there last. There's a dedicated, and more than ample, free parking area for the spotting platform. While there are some new bus stops next to the nearby car park, I didn't see any buses in the couple of hours I spent there; I'm fairly sure it's not possible to walk there safely from the terminal, and it would likely attract the kind of attention that has guns, so plan to drive. That was certainly the airport authority's recommendation.
While they told me that the location was "parking lot 26", you actually need to drive past the entrance to that parking lot, round a concrete barrier and towards the airside security gate (which did not feel like a good idea!), then take the next left and go all the way to the end. If it's signposted, I certainly couldn't read it. As far as I'm concerned, all the buses go to Scribble Street. Facilities
There's a covered picnic table, but if you want to eat anything on it, better bring it with you. You're within spitting distance of a gas station, but you'll have to drive a hell of a long way to get to it. Buy your snacks and your liquids (lots of them) beforehand.
Toilets? They have leaves on them.Traffic patterns
When I was there, they were landing on 30 and departing from 26. From staring out the window for a week when I should have been working, this appears to be typical. Arrivals from the west do happen, my own arrival was from that direction, but everything I saw during daylight hours was coming from the east.
For 26 departures, you have a pretty-much unrestricted view from the threshold right through the climb-out, although stuff does seem to love rotating right behind the few obstructions there are
Some decently high apartment blocks give an interesting background. I was there fairly late in the evening and heat haze wasn't an issue as far as I could tell. I can imagine it'd be a right bastard during the day, though.
This spot is useless for 30 arrivals, everything's down and stopped well before it's clear of all the trees, poles, buildings, etc., and you'll struggle to get a clean shot even as they taxi in. Seems like it'd be excellent for any arrivals from the west, though.
03/21, forget it. This is much shorter than the other two runways, though, so I don't know how much use it actually sees. That's also where the military ramp and IAI are, so I wouldn't want to point a camera over there anyway.
At this point I would normally include some example photos. If I can ever recover them from the corrupt CF card, I might. Security
This is inside the cordon, so you do have to go through the same checkpoint as you would to go to the terminal. For me, that involved a quick look through the window and being waved straight through.
Security vehicles passed by several times, very obviously checking up on us. They only stopped and asked what I was doing when I was putting my camera away and re-packing my bags. One of the other guys asked me some almost-stupid-but-not-quite open-ended questions about planes, and seemed to have his phone pointed more at me than at the planes, make your own mind up on that one. You're very definitely being watched, and can expect to be challenged at some point, but they built this thing so you can take photos of planes.
All in all, this was a real eye-opener. It certainly proves that other airports could provide decent facilities if they cared to stop whining about terrorists. And it was great to see families there just enjoying the planes. This was not how I imagined plane-spotting in Israel to be.
Nice job, TLV. Other stuff
While I had the car, I also drove down to Hatzerim to visit the Israeli Air Force Museum, which was strongly recommended to me by the locals. Indeed, it looks excellent - from the outside. I wasn't the only one to have driven a long way to find that it was closed because shrug. Lots of people in there working but it was closed and nobody knew why - possibly because it was two days before Passover, but the website said it was open.
It looked like they had all sorts of interesting stuff in there, including a Republic Seabee of all things. The gate guards were a P-51 and a Gloster Meteor. I suppose not having all that stuff makes the loss of the CF card less painful, and the DB editors definitely dodged a bullet because I would have Pokemonned the shit out of that place.
Not far from the museum, I found an F-4 just mounted on a roundabout, as you do. I think there's an Air Force technical college nearby.
I also stopped in at a little GA field near Beersheva. While I could probably have walked along the ramp and snapped away, I didn't particularly feel like going to jail. I got permission from the CEO of the flying school to photograph his two Cessnas, nobody else was brave enough to say yes. A shame, there was some cool stuff there. Looked like it'd be a fun place at the weekend, with at least one skydiving school based there. Did I risk a photo of the VOR? Oh hell no.
If I have to go back for work, I'll definitely try that museum again, as well as spending more time at TLV. Hopefully my shots will survive.
Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast:
For it is the number of a man; and its number is One hundred threescore and twelve.