The Flightographer #2 | Awesome Light Can Be Found…

I’m a pilot with a second love: photography. In this blog I share some of the amazing things I encounter around the world – travel experiences and images.


Light. Good pictures need good light. Yet it’s impossible to define precisely what “good” means. It has so much to do with personal preference. One place where I often encounter what for me is “beautiful light” is Quito in Ecuador. The airport and city lie high in the Andes mountains, more than 2500 metres above sea level.

777 Quito Gate

View from the air traffic control tower

Colours always seem deeper at altitude and the cloud formations in the mountains form a gorgeous backdrop. With the help of the station manager at Quito, I got permission to photograph the arrival of the flight from Amsterdam. The picture here was taken from the air traffic control tower. After a short stop in Quito, this flight travels on to Guayaquil, before returning to Schiphol.

Quito 777 Arrival

The current airport at Quito opened in 2013. The old airport had no room to expand and the location presented a number of other problems. It was situated in the middle of the city and close to a high mountain, which meant you could only approach the runway from one direction. The runways weren’t entirely horizontal either.

Old Airport Quito

The new airport is on a plateau in a valley just east of Quito city and can be approached from both the north and south. There’s plenty of room for growth here.

Quito ATC Tower KLM 777

Photogenic Quito

When I was flying 777s, I used to love coming to Quito. Its stunning situation made it not only highly photogenic, the airport was also technically interesting for a pilot. Quito is a beautiful city with friendly inhabitants and delicious food. It’s a spot I love returning to. And, at the new airport, we often catch good light.

Quito Gate 777 Dark Sky

Did you know we made a Cockpit Tales video about Quito Airport? Watch it here:


Posted by:   Mark Wagtendonk  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

Jaap Frickers

I have been flying a lot to Quito. First for work and later because I met my wife in Ecuador who lives with me in the Netherlands. I also have a high interest in aircraft and flying. However I remember a few very interesting approaches (sometimes scary..) on the old airport and it made me aware of the skills of the pilots. This summer we
arrived on the new airport. But still nothing boring either. At some point the pilots have to navigate between the mountains and volcanoes which is quite spectacular.. A great experience!




Hi Mark,

Wat een prachtige foto’s! Heb je ook een persoonlijke pagina waarop je foto’s en werk te volgen zijn, naast de KLM blog?

Gunawan Tjahjadi

KLM ….have you schedule to Singapore from Jakarta,Indonesia, where I live?? I want to try your best flight and enjoy its recommended services! I still don’t have any long flight plan to go elsewhere in the world! Will you respond me at once?? Thanks a lot for your cooperation and attentions! Regards.


Hoe en waar kan zoonlief solliciteren? Welke opleiding?

Lee, hee Joo

Wow your picture is very fantastic!

Lee, hee Joo

Your picture is very fantastic!
I drew a picture of your picture!

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