23 March - Beijing Capital Airport
Today we started at place spot 2 again. Not long before we were asked to leave again because of the arrival of some VIP flights.
With some fellow spotters we decided to make another cultural visit, not included in the original trip. The rest of the day we visited the place Forbidden City with the imperial palaces. The 600 years old 720.000 square meters complex is in fact a city within the city. Very impressive! (note when visiting: you need a full day to visit this complex). Our trip back to the hotel, by taxi, was a trip on it’s own. After a terrifying 45 minutes drive through the busy and chaotic city we arrived at our hotel. 0.60 eurocent a person … what!
24 March - Tianjin
Today we traveled some two hour south of Beijing, to the harbor town Tianjin. Our first stop: place Tianjin Airport. Outsight the terminal the views of the platform are poor. Except for the Ural Tupolev the platform was empty. What makes Tianjin interesting is the China Eastern helicopter fleet.
B-7702, Bell 212
Even more interesting is the location of the place Tianjin Aviation Institute. At the airport the institute has a very impressive depot, with a variety of aircraft including a MiG-17 (J-5 31585?) and a Pan Am 707 (N893PA). Beware, this terrain can’t be seen from outsight the airport grounds and can only be visited with an appointment.
After visiting the institute depot we continued downtown to the place Zhou Enlai Memorial. Under a dome in the park an original Il-14P (678), belonging to one of the founders of the Communist Party Zhou Enlai, is parked and can be visited. After visiting this aircraft we headed back to Beijing.
We got at least 10 years older of the terrible traffic situations. It’s really unbelievable what you see on the highway. One rule, when you got wheels or something that looks like wheels, please be free to use the highway, in any direction.
On our way back we stopped at place Nan-Yuan Air Base in the south of Beijing. This is an active base where the 34th transport division is located. It’s possible to access the base, but the armed guards standing next to the aircraft remind you that photographing is not allowed. We noted several Tu-154’s including a rare ECM/ELINT version (B-4029 Tu-154M/D). This is the Chinese version of the US E-8, and can be recognized by the ELINT radar pod under the fuselage.
Before returning to our second home, next to the runway at Beijing Capital, we made a short stop at the place China Agricultural Museum. Not because of it’s impressive collection of tractors, but because of the CAAC Il-18V (B-233) which stand is front of the museum, now acting as a cafe.
Our last stop for this trip at place spot 1 before our departure the next day.
B-3988, Lj 45
The Chang An B737 with winglets was brand new. This aircraft was spotted on Boeing Field, Seattle a few week before.
25 March – Departure
As all trips, this trip ended way to soon. Today we started early, as we would leave with the 10.50 KLM flight (PH-BFY). Just before that we checked out a new spot, place spot 3 is located on the parking garage in front of terminal 2. It gives you a good view of apron 8 where bizjets and aircraft taxing for runway 18R/36L can be seen.
LY-LRJ, Lj 55
In terminal 2 photographing is possible as it gives you a good view of runway 18L/36R. This runway wasn’t accessible during our visit (and probably will not be in the future) due to the construction of the place new terminal (terminal 3). With this huge expansion, build for the Olympic games in 2008, the airport will double in size. We counted 52 tower cranes! on the building site.
In all an excellent trip with lots of new airlines and serials noted.