You ever wonder how so many pictures and videos of different aircraft from around the world get taken, and by who? Do the airlines do it for their public relations? Mmh the answer lies somewhere else and that is with a group of aviation crazy people called plane spotters. What is plane spotting? Do I need to be a professional photographer to become one? People have so many questions about spotter? well….plane_spotting_850x374.jpg

One thing I can tell you is that it started as a hobby and pass time for a lot of people but now its a different story. Just like it is with just about everything it has become a highly competitive hobby that is actually paying very well too if you hit the right areas and get the right connections. People go to great lengths nowadays for that great shot, picture or video. High end cameras and video recorders are now the norm for most spotters. This enables them to catch some spectacularly amazing shots such as this one of a Singapore Airbus A380-841 aircraft at an altitude of 35000 feet (about 10,668 km) crossing paths with a Thai Airways Boeing B777-300ER at an altitude of 33,975 feet (about 10,355 km) taken from the ground in Russia.cross-e1507973191611.jpg

Some even have command centres with camper vehicles and everything needed not to  leave their spot for days to weeks on end. To be honest in some places its becoming a cutthroat activity.

Aircraft spotting or plane spotting is a hobby of tracking the movement of aircraft, which is often accomplished by photography. Besides monitoring aircraft, aircraft spotting enthusiasts (whom are usually called plane spotters) also record information regarding airports, air traffic control communications and airline routes. It is very legal as long as you’re not trespassing on private property and are not in any position where you could be threatening security (on a ladder too close to the airport perimeter fence etc.) then it is completely legal to take photos and video of aircraft. Most cops who stop plane spotters and say it’s illegal or anything mostly say that to keep you from causing any trouble, but there are some who believe it is but taking photos or videos of aircraft cannot be punished by law unless you are breaking some other law in the process such as trespassing.

Planespotting is your way of enjoying aviation, whether by means of taking photographs of planes, by writing down ?tail numbers? of passing aircraft, or by just sitting back and enjoying the action.

Though the romanticism of flight and celebration of technology is surely enough to entertain just by watching aircraft soar into the air, it’s still more fun to know exactly what we’re seeing; What kind of airplane is that? Where is that airline from? Where is that plane going?

This guide will help you understand the basics of spotting and hopefully make watching planes a more interesting and enjoyable experience.

Best place to plane spot. The ideal places to observe aircraft are in or near airports when they are near or on the ground, but you can try your hand at identifying planes wherever you happen to see them. Feel free to look at a map and explore the areas surrounding your local airport. Some airports have purposely set locations for spotters and curious visitors to take shots and view the airport aircraft activity.perth-airport11

Some airports are so strategically located that you really dont need to look for a spotting view as all you need to do is be near the airport and you get a front row seat to the best moments of flight, ie takeoffs and landing. Popular good spots include the Sepulveda Boulevard near LAX (Los Angeles Int Airport),

and  Myrtle Avenue near LHR (London Heathrow Int Airpot) which primarily has the medium and heavy aircraft so close that you can actually see the pilots and passengers if you have the right angle, true story hey.a380_lhr.jpg

For me the cream dela cream location of planespotting is undoubtedly Maho Beach adjacent to SXM (Princess Juliana International Airport) Netherlands Dutch Antilles. Here you can do more planespotting(read my blog on Princess Juliana International Airport).

Observing and photographing aircraft is completely legal in the United States, as long as you remain on public property or in a designated airport observation area. There are also certain privately-owned locations, for example a shopping mall parking near an airport, where you can sit and watch planes, but if the owner, an employee or law enforcement asks you to leave such a location, you are legally obligated to do so.

Unfortunately, due to the security climate of the modern world, sometimes fellow citizens who are unfamiliar with the hobby will grow concerned upon seeing someone taking photos or loitering near an airport. Some may approach and ask you what you are doing, and others may actually call the police. In either case, you should always remain polite and respectfully explain what you are doing. Be sure to carry identification whenever you go spotting to make such interactions conclude as smoothly as possible.

The launching of a new route by an airline, the launching of a new type of aircraft for an already existing route and the unveiling of new type of aircraft by the manufacturer draws the largest crowds of spectators. Journalists, aviation enthusiasts as well as planespotters camp hours before the event creating a surreal buzz atmosphere.

Airbus A350XWB unveiling.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner unveiling

Chinese Comac C919 unveiling.DSC09330

Many seasoned and recognized planespotters and aviation journalists even get the privilege of being the first passengers when new routes and aircraft are unveiled, for free with compliments. So if you have idle time, why not do a bit of spotting lol. I will leave you with this video of some heavies landing at London Heathrow Int Airport in the early morning.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Please share your planespotting experience(whether flying, at the airport or anywhere aviation related) with everyone on my Facebookpage AviaConnect and Instagram @avia_connect.

AviaConnect (M B Dube)

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