When we’re young, we just look at a plane in the sky, and our parents tell us to wave goodbye to it. If you see a plane in the sky, you will look at it right away. Some will simply gaze, while others may find something appealing and wish to travel, while still others will simply hear the engine. It’s spotting in every aspect. Seeing, noticing, observing, and recognizing are all synonyms for spotting. Aircraft spotting is a hobby made by an aviation enthusiast to track an airplane.
For purposes of national security, various countries encouraged civilians to become “plane spotters” in an “observation corps” or similar public entity during World War II. Between 1925 and 1995, the Royal Observer Corps served in the United Kingdom. In January 1940, a publication called The Aeroplane Spotter was released.
Spotting an airplane is more than simply recognizing one and taking a snapshot of it.
The size of the aircraft, the type, position, and number of engines, the position of the wings relative to the fuselage, and the degree to which they are swept backward are all factors to consider. Another distinguishing feature is that the wings can be mounted above, below, or in the middle of the fuselage.
Other elements include the aircraft’s speed, cockpit positioning, color scheme, or specific equipment that alters the aircraft’s silhouette, a national symbol, airline livery or logo, a squadron badge, or coded letters in the case of a military aircraft.
When these characteristics are combined, an airplane can be identified. If the observer is familiar with the airfield and its typical traffic patterns, he or she is more likely to make a snap judgment about the aircraft’s identity — they may have seen the same type of aircraft from the same angle before. This is especially true if the airplane spotter is looking for commercial planes operated by carriers with a small fleet.
You may also check our 3 articles to know the difference in the airplane shapes and how to differentiate between them
- How to recognize the type of a commercial Boeing airplane
- How to recognize the type of a commercial Airbus airplane
- How to identify the type of a commercial airplane, Boeing or Airbus
The equipment used by spotters
- A good pair of binoculars – for examining incoming aircraft angles.
- A digital camera with a telescopic lens and a tripod
- If you want to figure out what the aircraft is, consult a manual or a guide.
Spotters also utilize ADS-B decoders and other devices to track the movements of planes. The AirNav Systems RadarBox and Kinetic Avionics SBS series are the two most well-known devices. Both of them use a computer to read and interpret radar data and display the movements.
They can also use apps like FlightRadar24 or FlightAware, which allow them to view arrival and departure schedules as well as track the whereabouts of planes equipped with transponders.
Most decoders also allow you to export logs from a specific route or airport.
And of course the Point-and-shoot cameras, DSLRs, and walkie-talkies to spot your plane.
Spotters can use websites dedicated to airplanes, such as airliners.net, and social networking platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, to record their sightings, upload photos, and view photos of aircraft noticed by others across the world. YouTube allows users to post videos, including in-flight videos.
Live arrivals and departures are now on airport websites too, there are plenty of websites where you can track planes, and most of them don’t require you to log in. They are also useful to log those aircraft overflying, such as transatlantic ones. FlightRadar24 (FR24), Planespotters.net, and Flight Aware are the most popular free ones. Spotters are encouraged to report any odd activity at most airports. Animals or birds breeding near the perimeter can cause this as well.
Best places for spotting
Those are the top airports used for spotting:
- London Heathrow, UK
- Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten, Caribbean
- Hong Kong International
- Los Angeles International
- Toulouse, France
Also, there is the first specialized plane observation facility in Turkey that has opened at Istanbul Airport. The spotting location is only open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., and it offers an elevation position that is perfect for shooting without obstructions. There are also spaces for shade from the sun.
Spotting as a hobby
Helicopters, gliders, balloons, airships, and microlights are all possible targets for spotting. If you live in a city with a lot of air traffic, such as London, Chicago, or Frankfurt, you might want to limit it to just commercial planes. If you live in a place with a lot of unoccupied airspaces, such as the countryside, the outback, or the Arctic, you might want to expand your range. It is entirely up to you!
You can join organizations such as LAAS International, which is based in the United Kingdom. Also, you can enter competitions or create your aircraft spotting website where you can upload all of your photos.
This is a hobby that is open to people of all ages. You might think of it as a nerdy hobby at first, but as you dig further, you’ll discover that there’s a lot more to it. Also, while spotting, you can bring anyone with you or just discover someone who shares your passion and can provide you with useful information. And don’t be surprised if there are a lot of female spotters who know more about the plane than its color.
- https://www.airportspotting.com (Cover Image)