São Paulo will be the port of entry for a lot of foreign visitors and this is reflected in type of activity you will encounter, lots of jetliners. The air force has a small presence here as well. The places to spot from outside the airport are situated in neighbourhoods were some care should be taken not to offend the locals. Bringing some goodies to give away to the kids might help.
The airport has parallel east-west runways. The terminal sits north of that. Therefore, you will not miss much action. On the south west side there is a small VIP terminal and ramp and east of that the FAB hangars and ramps. A new terminal is being built east of the current terminal.
The airport is well to the north east of São Paulo, along highway BR-116. Follow that from either direction and take the airport access road, Helio Smidt. Obviously, the airport is well signposted.
Around the Airport
1Terminal - section D
The terminal consists of four sections. The outer most are reasonable for viewing. In section D good views can be near several gates. For photography you have the glass to deal with though.
2Terminal - section A
In section A, there is a restaurant that provides the possibility to watch most activity on this side of the terminal. Also, from some gates it is possible to take photographs of the taxi way. Most of the time aircraft or airport infrastructure are in the way.
3West side approach 09L
Along the airport access road, Helio Smidt, you can find a spot to photograph the aircraft coming in at 09L. They are still a bit high here.
4West side approach 09R
A bit further south on the access road takes you to the approach of 09R. This is a bit better height-wise, but still awkward to stand and park you car.
An alternative to spots 3 and 4 is the road that runs parallel to Helio Smidt to the west, Av. Marginal do Rio Baquirivu. It is easier to park your car here, but buildings obscure a clear view on the approach and poles can be in the way for photography.
The best place for number crunchers is the hotel Matiz, in between spots 3 and 4. This five storey hotel gives you an elevated view on the approach for 09R and 27L. Traffic comes straight over the hotel. The hotel offers an open roof top, not only to their guests, but also for non guests.
5VIP-terminal and base museum
Just south of the perimeter fence there is the entrance roundabout to the VIP terminal and FAB area. There is also a very big hotel situated here, maybe that offers good views from the air side rooms. Anyway, driving down the road parallel to the runway will offer some views of the VIP ramp. This road ends at the FAB gate. They have a small museum with a couple of aircraft there that can be visited.
6South east side approach 27L
Go back to the airport access road and from there south to the BR-116. Enter this eastbound and take the next exit, you will have to down first and then go left, over the highway onto Avenida Santos Dumont. Follow this road until you get to a T-junction, go right on Estrada Nazare. You now have the airfield to your left. Keep on following the FAB perimeter until you reach an open space, by then the road will be called Avenida Papa João Paulo. From that open spot, although there is still some airport infrastructure and undergrowth in the way, you should be high enough to look over the wall and watch the aircraft come to land on 27L.
7East side approach 27R
Follow the airfield perimeter until you come to a major cross road, go left on Bela Vista do Paraiso, you should still have the airfield perimeter on your left hand side and small companies and houses to your right. At this spot the aircraft come straight overhead. Nice for some spectacular shots.
8North east side approach 27R
A very nice spot is to the north of 27R in a small suburb. There is a piece of scrub-land that is higher than the airfield offering an grand view of the aircraft on touchdown at 27R. Alternatively, take off shots for 09L are also possible. Go left from Bela Vista onto Ceramica and drive all the way to the end of the housing area. When coming from the terminal directly, take Jamil João Zarif, then onto Candea and right at the T-junction on Lourenceo Serodio. Then again right onto Guarulhos/Nazare and drive to the end of that. Be aware of the local population, it is a very poor neighbourhood.
Fabio Laranjeira, from the terminal
Fabio Laranjeira, also from the terminal. The FAB hangar is seen in the back
|121.700 / 126.900||Ground|
|118.400 / 121.500||Tower|
|132.750 / 135.200||Tower|
|1390||AT-6D, base museum|
|0508||T-19 (PT-19 3FG), base museum|
|?||T-6, on base south of 09R/27L|