Shooting the United Airlines Star Wars Plane in Fort Lauderdale

Florida, Plane Spotting, USA
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Earlier this year I was finally able to be near an airport where United’s Star Wars plane will be as well. Because of my busy work and travel schedule, I was at the places the plane would land either a few days early or late. No, I did not shoot at the plane, I am talking about taking photographs of this awesome plane livery.

The plane has the registration/tail number N36272. You can search popular flight tracking sites like flightradar24.com for the schedule of the aircraft.

United Airlines is not the only one who operates or has operated a Star Wars-themed plane. Many other airlines all over the globe did so as well.

Now that I knew I can make it to the airport in time for the plane to depart I had to figure out which runway it would use. I tweeted United Airlines to see if they would have any information about it but unfortunately, they didn’t. I watched the traffic patterns for United flights they days before the Star Wars plane would take off from FLL on flight tracking apps and they were pretty consistent in using the same runway at FLL.

Spotting Location

Now I did some research on where I actually have to be to get good photos of the plane. Turns out that Fort Lauderdale has a few dedicated spots for airplane viewing and one was in the right position to capture the Star Wars Plane. It’s called the “Ron Gardner Aircraft Observation Area” and it’s on the west end of runway 10L/28R right next to the airport fence. 

But it gets even better. The parking there is free and it is kinda a hidden gem, as it seems not many people know about that spot. Another highlight here is the mounted speaker which lets you listen to Air Traffic Control. What an amazing spot for aviation geeks.

Unfortunately, the fence is pretty high and you should bring a ladder or be able to climb on your car to get photos without the fence. Another option is to stand on the posts for the road guard rail next to the airport fence. You have to be over 6 ft to actually be able to see over the fence by standing on top of them. If you decide on bringing a ladder, please don’t put it up right next to the fence, as this will look suspicious. The airport knows that aviation fans come out here to photograph and the area is regularly patrolled by security,  mostly on the airport side. Don’t ruin this spot for future visitors by being careless.

Waiting for United’s Star Wars plane to depart

I came here about an hour early to give myself enough time to find a good spot and check out the area. It was my first time to this area of the airport. A few other people where here as well and many of them with cameras, waiting for the same plane.

While waiting for the Star Wars plane, I captured photos of other arriving and departing airplanes. 

United Airlines Star Wars Plane

The spot turned out to be perfect for photographing the plane. It would first taxi out to the runway which would require the plane to taxi towards the West, but take off will be towards the East. Therefore we all got to see both sides of the plane which have different livery on either side. It was pretty awesome to see the plane live and you get pretty close to it from this viewing area.

Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum

On my way there I discovered the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum. It’s located very close to the Ron Gardner Aircraft Observation Area. You can’t miss it when driving to the viewing spot. This is a great little museum about the history of the airport. Did you know that it used to be a naval airfield before it became Fort Lauderdale International Airport? The admission to the museum is for free and worth a visit.

Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum

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