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Planespotting, How Did It Start?  
User currently offlineMischadee From Sweden, joined Apr 2004, 271 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3960 times:

Hi there!

I'm writing a paper in school about the culture of planespotting and I'm wondering if anyone can tell me how it all started and maybe help me answer some questions? Or maybe point out some good websites or literature that can explain it?

-Who was first?
-Why do you do/love it?
-Is there any special way to be good at it (special gear etc...)?
-What are your thoughts about gender and planespotting?

I would appreciate any help.
Regards
Mischa


ARNiboy
21 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineViv From Ireland, joined May 2005, 3142 posts, RR: 29
Reply 1, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3946 times:

It started with people noting down aircraft registrations, with details of aircraft type, where seen, etc.

Nowadays, people still do that. Some of those people also photograph aircraft. Other people photograph aircraft, without being primarily interested in registrations. Many "spotters" love aircraft and aviation generally. Many people are also "collectors" (of registrations).

Equipment: For photography, a digital single lens reflex camera with a good zoom lens would be the gear preferred by most. Most people use computer software (such as Adobe Photoshop) to post-process their photos.

Gender: It seems to mainly a male hobby.

Others may add more insights ...



Nikon D700, Nikkor 80-400, Fuji X Pro 1, Fujinon 35 f/1.4, Fujinon 18 f/2
User currently offlineSpeedbirdEGJJ From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2003, 429 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 3938 times:

Mischa

For me the main aspect of my hobby is collecting registrations i have seen. I do this in two ways, firstly by type order, using a construction list, for example i still need five MD11's, and also using a fleets book, where i collect the same info but in terms of airline fleet - I have seen the entire Air France fleet.....

This is unique to me and the way i choose to do it, i only 'spot' airliners, biz-jets and military transports whereas others i know collect everything from fighters to balloons, not my thing, but again unique to them....

I think the main thing is that the hobby is so many things to so many people that it is impossible to draw up and hard and fast definition, but hey as long as everyone as fun ut doesnt matter.............

Ryan


User currently offlineDendrobatid From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2004, 1663 posts, RR: 62
Reply 3, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 3919 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD SCREENER

Mischa
I think the roots go back further....to trainspotting.
Whilst trainspotters are now the subject of derision, above a certain age in the UK a very high proportion of us were trainspotters. I am nearly 53 years old and am very much amongst the last of the mass trainspotters. It has to be borne in mind that in the early 1960s there were no computers, some TV and there were a finite number of trains. It was simply something to do ! Very significantly a large number of these were the fire-breathing, character laden steam engines and the object was to try to see them all.
In the mid 1960s a decision was made to scrap all steam engines and for many, myself included, that was the end of my interest in railways (though I still find myself reading the numbers as they go past it is that ingrained in me)
Aircraft spotting was certainly a hobby before this, thanks to a book publisher, Ian Allen, who published most books on the railways at that time. I think he saw the end of trainspotting and very sensibly diversified and published some aircraft spotters books.
There were far more number collectors around than photographers in the late sixties and up to the late nineties. Far too few photographs were taken.
Digital photography, and sites like airliners.net have recently increased the popularity of the hobby but have a look at the average ages of the number collectors....it is quite high. Photography is now considerably cheaper which is why so many of mine are in black and white. All were developed and printed at home.
I do not deride spotters, I was one once, and kept full logs evrywhere I went.
They are GREAT to look at today and coupled with the photos, of minor historical significance.
I hope my thoughts help

Mick Bajcar


User currently offlineEksath From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1295 posts, RR: 25
Reply 4, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3875 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
ARTICLE EDITOR

It started when the Wright brothers handed a camera to a spectator (a lifeguard at Kill Devil Hills beach) and told him to take a picture as their contraption took off so that they could use it for their patent application with the US Gov. Here is the result.

http://www.rqriley.com/WrightImgs/Wright1stFlight.jpg



World Wide Aerospace Photography
User currently offlineTin67 From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 268 posts, RR: 3
Reply 5, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 3852 times:

Hi Mischa,

I guess I have my father to thank for my fascination with aircraft and aviation in general. He was one of the first dispatchers at Heathrow when he joined BEA in the early 60s. I didn't arrive on the scene until 67, but in my childhood I quickly took an interest in what my father did and he'd take me to airshows. I remember going to staff events to do walk throughs of new aircraft. I recall walking through Concorde and also the first L1011.

When old enough some friends and I used to hitch a ride to LHR with my father on the early shift and spot from the top of car park 1A or from the Queens Building. I used to collect numbers and also take terrible photos with my 110 camera.

Now as a adult (child at heart) I still have the same enthusiasm for aviation, but now concentrate on photography and also livery design. My camera is somewhat better and I have a collection on Anet along with over 30Gbs of digital shots on my PC. I also have fun designing liveries and I have a few on Modified Airlines Photos website.

Regards
Martin


User currently offlineSmithAir747 From Canada, joined Jan 2004, 1622 posts, RR: 28
Reply 6, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3819 times:

Didn't planespotting start in World War II?

I heard that it was started when civilian volunteers were taught to recognize aircraft silhouettes in the air by type and whether they were enemy or not. This was during the air raids like the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, etc. I heard it was started in Great Britain.

The British in World War II would be considered the "first planespotters"!

SmithAir747



I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)
User currently offlineMischadee From Sweden, joined Apr 2004, 271 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3802 times:

Thanks everyone for sharing.

I'm wondering if I can quote you in my paper? Let me know if that would be a problem?

Mischa



ARNiboy
User currently offlineBigOrange From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 2364 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3802 times:

Quoting SmithAir747 (Reply 6):
Didn't planespotting start in World War II?

I heard that it was started when civilian volunteers were taught to recognize aircraft silhouettes in the air by type and whether they were enemy or not. This was during the air raids like the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, etc. I heard it was started in Great Britain.

The British in World War II would be considered the "first planespotters"!



100% correct!


User currently offlineKukkudrill From Malta, joined Dec 2004, 1123 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (8 years 7 months 3 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3790 times:

Would be interesting to consider how countries differ in their acceptance or tolerance of planespotters. Wasn't there a case some years ago of a group of British spotters getting arrested as spies for taking photos at a Greek military base? If I recall right, at that time the media portrayed planespotting as primarily a British hobby.


Make the most of the available light ... a lesson of photography that applies to life
User currently offlineChasmat From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 2 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 3689 times:

I was plane spotting as a child, generally alone when I could get my parents to take me near an airport. After I got married we honeymooned in London. I was shocked to see ADULTS plane spotting, and a place at Heathrow where you could see the entire field. People were recording registrations and I'd never seen anything like that before, and I'd been to some of the biggies in the US, ORD, LGA, MSP. The British clearly were into it long before it caught on here in the states.

User currently offlineLennymuir From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2002, 434 posts, RR: 6
Reply 11, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 3683 times:

A few years ago whilst passing through Heathrow returning from a european trip
(I was taking photographs)
I made an aquantance with a 'spotter' at Hatton Cross bus staion at 6am who was desperate to get back up on to the 'Terrace' for another all day 'fix' of registration collection.

He was an elderly chap, local to the west London area and very conversant.
His problem was that he was posted 'missing' by his buddies from his usual spot on the terrace for the previous two weeks.
Unfortunately, he felt forced into taking a 'break' from his hobby.

Why?

His wife had recently died and he had to go through the process of burying her.

TRUE STORY


User currently offlineMaiznblu_757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2002, 5112 posts, RR: 50
Reply 12, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 3677 times:

Quoting SmithAir747 (Reply 6):
Didn't planespotting start in World War II?

I heard that it was started when civilian volunteers were taught to recognize aircraft silhouettes in the air by type and whether they were enemy or not. This was during the air raids like the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, etc. I heard it was started in Great Britain.

The British in World War II would be considered the "first planespotters"!

Yep, as said before, 100% correct.


User currently offlineAviatorTJ From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1838 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 5 days ago) and read 3663 times:

Quoting Mischadee (Thread starter):
-Who was first?
-Why do you do/love it?
-Is there any special way to be good at it (special gear etc...)?
-What are your thoughts about gender and planespotting?

As Eksath said above, there was aviation photography from day one. I had done an informative speech on this topic, and I started with that as my attention getter.

I personally had been watching airplanes almost all my life just out of enjoyment and curiosity. One day, I decided to take my camera with, and I had even more fun capturing images. Years after that, I discovered Airliners and ended up here.

In my opinion, aviation photography (american spotting), requires photographic skill. If you can shoot within your gear's requirements, you can do anything. As far as finding the right spots or the right planes, that comes with time and expertise. Nobody can nail the UA 747 new colors rotation on their first day out.

As far as gender, my experiences have never brought me to any female photographers or spotters. My girlfriend of five years has been with twice to take photos, and she still has absolutely no interest in it. Maybe at some point, I'll see a more diverse crowd than the gents I normally run into.


User currently offlineDendrobatid From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2004, 1663 posts, RR: 62
Reply 14, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 3661 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD SCREENER

Mischa, beware. The concept of spotting seems to mean different things to different people. I am beginning to realise that there is a difference in meaning of spotting in different places.
There is little doubt that aircraft recognition and aircraft watching began in the UK during the Second World War though presumably, and for the same reasons, it must have also been happening in Germany too.
That, to me is aircraft WATCHING, as described by CHASMAT.
The concept of SPOTTING, the collecting of the numbers, I am convinced has it's roots where I said, in trainspotting.

Incidentally train and Plane SPOTTING were essentially male pursuits and they remain so today. There are of course exceptions and when we look at aircraft photography, whilst males still dominate numerically, there are quite a few female photographers.
I asked my Wife why she thought males were spotters rather than women.
Her answer..........
Men need their obssession and women have better things to do!

Mmmmmmmmmhhhhhhhh. I suppose I did ask.


User currently offlineDstc47 From Ireland, joined Sep 1999, 1462 posts, RR: 3
Reply 15, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 3629 times:

Collecting registrations of aircraft certainly pre-dates WWII, in Britain and Ireland anyhow.There certainly were some few hard core spotters in the 1930's.

The war undoubtedly changed and modified the interest.
Spotting is very strong in the UK, the Netherlands, fairly strong in Ireland and to a lesser degree, in Belgium.

In other places in Europe, in part due to legal restrictions, the activity was virtually unknown. Indeed incomprehensible, when UK spotting tourists turned up, - they must be spies, recording registrations of Greek T37's! Why else.

However, the age profile of spotters seems to be growing older and the activity seems to be in decline, as young people seem to find the internet, video games etc more fun and warmer fun than spotting was. It does seem to be in decline, just as trainspotting seems to be. (This is largely a UK phenomenon.) It always was an activity almost exclusively male, started by the early teens, and often abandoned when girls became an interest, as relatively few girls seem to enjoy standing for hours by a fence in the mud.

However there are many ex spotters in ATC, airline operations, the military, etc so while they may not do it for a hobby they may be paid to do much the same hanging around.


User currently offlinePaulc From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2001, 1490 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 3582 times:

I started in 1980's athough has been interested in aviation for as long as I can remember. Still collect reg's of GA/airliners/bix/military/museums etc + got my first camera (Praktica MTL5) for my 18th. Now have a DSLR with over 2200 pics on here (over 4800 somewhere else)  Smile

The recent growth of low cost carriers in the uk certainly makes it a lot easier to get abroad for a couple of days. With flights being quite cheap - several mini breaks can be had during the course of a year.



English First, British Second, european Never!
User currently offlineThowman From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2004, 363 posts, RR: 3
Reply 17, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 3578 times:

Interesting topic, but what has it got to do with aviation photography?

Sure, there are spotters that take photos, but how many of us actually write all the numbers down in our notebooks?

I think this is in the wrong forum. I thought this forum was for discussion of photography, equipment, techniques and processing?


User currently offlineMischadee From Sweden, joined Apr 2004, 271 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 3541 times:

Quoting Thowman (Reply 17):
Interesting topic, but what has it got to do with aviation photography?

Sure, there are spotters that take photos, but how many of us actually write all the numbers down in our notebooks?

I think this is in the wrong forum. I thought this forum was for discussion of photography, equipment, techniques and processing?

You may be right but I think that I got some really good answers from everyone that has responded. I don't know if I this topic is suitable for another forum? If you think I should post it somewhere else also, please let me know.

Mischa



ARNiboy
User currently offlineLennymuir From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2002, 434 posts, RR: 6
Reply 19, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 3539 times:

Andy...

Plane-spotting when quoted by our US buddies over the pond usually
refers to 'Aviation Photography'

The British version is somewhat historically different.

 bigthumbsup 


User currently offlinePipoA380 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 1594 posts, RR: 51
Reply 20, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 3526 times:
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Mischa,

To me it all started as I was a kid, when my father flew prop planes, and still does today. I've always had interest in having pictures of planes, and as he did travel a lot, he always tbrought me postcards you could find in the plane, so I could watch them (Lots of TAP, Swissair, Cathay, Lufthansa, JAL etc... 727s, 742s, A300, A310s etc...).

Whan I discovered airliners.net a few years ago, I had all the pictures I wanted at my fingertips, and that was really cool. Then, after trying to upload pictures I took with my crappy digital camera, and fascinated by the incredible pictures I could find here, I made the step of buying a DSLR camera and started to spot. This whole thing lasted nearly 20 years, between I was 4 years old and started looking at everything that flies, and today. The passion is just bigger now thanks to all the technologies.

To be good at it? Well I'm still quite new but I learned a lot: good camera equipment, knowing how to use it, finding good folks to show you around the airports (you know who you are!) and spend some time editing your pictures. And a bit of imagination to make some original pictures!

Gender? Waaaay to few ladies out there!

Best regards,
Philippe



It's not about AIRBUS. it's not about BOEING. It's all about the beauty of FLYING.
User currently offlineRyan h From Australia, joined Aug 2001, 1531 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (8 years 7 months 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 3502 times:

While I was at Manchester a few months ago I did meet a couple of female spotters.
Talking to one she said that she got her husband interested in it.



South Australian Spotter
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