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Boston Experience  
User currently offlinePropfreak From Switzerland, joined Mar 2000, 157 posts, RR: 7
Posted (13 years 10 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3350 times:

hi all
thought I want to share this little story. seems my luck with airport authorities is running out.. Flew over to Boston end of last week to take some of those nice shots of the famous carpark (great in the afternoon) as I have seen several posted taken after 09/11. well, you guessed it, some people from MassPort (the airport authority being in charge of carparks etc.) drove by and ordered me to go. When I asked them why he said acc. to the FAA it's not allowed to take pictures of airplanes. As I knew this was not correct I wanted to speak to someone responsible. The story went on that they said they would send me a trooper to discuss. The guy came up and I had a lengthy discussion with him but in the end he said that since 09/11 rules had changed and they wouldn't let anybody stay up there for security reasons. I asked him if he had this in written form and he sent me to the MassPort main office. As I had nothing else to do I followed his advice and went in search of this office. Got there and bumped into the man in charge for the carparks. He told me that staying on the carpark was considered as trespassing and loitering if I didn't park my car up there and I was not allowed to stay up there. I was given a telephone number of somebody from MassPort public affairs. After about 5 calls always ending up on his answering machine I gave up for the day. The next day I finally reached him but he was not in a mood to discuss anything and simply stated that it's illegal. End of the story and home flew a not very satisfied airplane photographer who doesn't think he'll be returning to the US in the near future.


21 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineAKE0404AR From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2535 posts, RR: 41
Reply 1, posted (13 years 10 months 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 3292 times:

If I were you I would have contacted Rudy C. (Rudy Chiarelllo) he works for Massport or should I say he is one of the Ops Managers there.

I am sure he would have helped ya out. Rudy any comment?

Parking Garage on top of Terminal B never has been my preferred spot unless I wanted to take some night shots (Terminal A+B+C)

I am sure a lot of things have changed since 9-11, especially in BOS.

Authorities are a lot more cautious these days.....

Sorry to hear that you had such a bad experience.

Btw....Boston is more than just Parking Garage Terminal B.

Vasco G.

User currently offlinePropfreak From Switzerland, joined Mar 2000, 157 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (13 years 10 months 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 3233 times:

hi Vasco
sure - I know BOS is more than the parking garage. but if you don't live there and you'd like to take some typical BOS-shots the garage gives you some nice scenery shots and is great for action too.
early morning I took some approach shots in Winthrop - nice, but not very special.
one reason I didn't ask Rudy was that I didn't know him and he probably gets tons of mails of people asking him to take them on the ramp. also I thought the parking deck would be no problem. well, maybe next life ...  Wink/being sarcastic

User currently offlineShawn Patrick From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 2610 posts, RR: 15
Reply 3, posted (13 years 10 months 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 3197 times:

Another good place to go is across the water to the New England Aquarium. I think you might actually have to go in, but there might be a good spot somewhere else outside the aquarium. But you go to the back and outside (I think the seals are there) and you can see across the water the planes landing/departing and you can see the ones on the ground. Good spot if you have a good zoom lens (probably 300mm would work). Also, there's a place called Castle Island. It's not an island, just a park near the water and it's right under the glideslope and very close to the runway, you can get some good approach shots and nobody can kick you out of there.


User currently offlineDeltAirlines From United States of America, joined May 1999, 9027 posts, RR: 11
Reply 4, posted (13 years 10 months 9 hours ago) and read 3148 times:

Yes, I have had a very negative experience with good ole Massport the last time I was there, and I have now more or less sworn off the garage. At least you had a better experience there than I had, as the state trooper (er...rambo) told me not to return to BOS without having a "reason" (he then proceeds to list the "reasons" as flying out, or picking up/dropping off a pax) or else I would be arrested (he took my name down, etc.). While I know BOS is more than just the airport, the day I went it was the only decent location (9 was in use for departures, 15 for Arrivals) that I knew of (if it was 4/22, I would have gone to Constitution Beach/Castle Island). If only BOS acted like PHL, where I spotted from a cafe last weekend and was not bothered at all (instead, the people next to me asked me what was going on on the ramp, etc.). Now, I'm sticking with MHT for up here, and I think some more trips to PHL are in order for later this year. If only BOS were to reopen an observation deck again...I'm sure it would be a huge success (not to mention the $$$ Massport could make...)


User currently offlineFlpuck6 From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 2123 posts, RR: 27
Reply 5, posted (13 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3105 times:

You guys need to get your hand on a letter from the FAA stating that photography is NOT illegal. Please take the 10 minutes to type out a nicely written letter addressed to the proper people at the FAA. It'll take time to get a response, but well worth it when they say it's NOT illegal.

Using the reason that it is illegal is unwarranted. While again, I understand their concern, it's bull $@it.

The airports, however, can have their own regulations, but in my opinion, you should have a right to see it in writing. If not, keep spotting.


Bonjour Chef!
User currently offlineB757300 From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 4114 posts, RR: 20
Reply 6, posted (13 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3095 times:

First of all you can tell the person who said the it is against "FAA" rules is full of bullsh*t. The FAA does not set airport security policy anymore. The TSA does now. As for the TSA, there is NOT one Friggin law on the books banning photography @ airports.

One of these days, an innocent person is going to be killed, all the in the name of "security".

"There is no victory at bargain basement prices."
User currently offlineAlaskaairlines From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2054 posts, RR: 14
Reply 7, posted (13 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3088 times:

B757300, how was your outcome with your incident a few months back?


User currently offlinePropfreak From Switzerland, joined Mar 2000, 157 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (13 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3071 times:

where to you mean? Madrid? was sent away too.
In Boston I told the guy that it was bull... that the FAA bans taking pics. but it didn't make a difference as I was told that it is private property (of MassPort) and they say it's forbidden - period.
well, who says life is easy...  Wink/being sarcastic

User currently offlineAirplanekid2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (13 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 2967 times:

I had the same experience as DeltAirlines multiple times at Logan. Being a Logan spotter and photographer for six years I never before had to deal with massport being how they are. But now the authorities use 9/11 as the excuse to discourage spotting and photography. First they put up big signs that say no loitering or tresspassing and then they train all of their men to get rid of us enthusiasts and be rude in the process. I am fed up with Massport by now, having been thrown out 3+ times now. The "statie" claimed that the TSA had all sorts of rules banning our practices. Hmm....We have our letters that prove otherwise. We all should get together and try to do something about the situation at Logan. Logan should take after Houston, which reportedly welcomes spotters and photographers, but instead they shoo away (us and) europeans that pay big bucks to fly here and shoot and spot. Although a minor factor, us spotters do contribute to the airport economy and are always watchful of suspicious actions.

User currently offlineDeltAirlines From United States of America, joined May 1999, 9027 posts, RR: 11
Reply 10, posted (13 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 2935 times:

Unfortunately, I think Massport does not realise that they have a gem in their hands in regard to spotting. I can think of only a few other airports in the world (JFK, MCO...) that have a wide range of airlines without one carrier truly dominating. That in itself makes an airport particularly of interest to spotters. Secondly, the airport has great facilities that have provided us enthusiasts some good times while spotting, most notably the Terminal B garage. If you go through the photo archive, you will find many photos from the past 20-30 years from this vantage point. And yes, while spotters make up most likely less than .01% of the total airport usage numbers, I think Massport wouldn't mind the thousands of potential dollars they could make off us annually, with their ludicrous parking rates, etc.

Oh well, I am now looking forward to my trip to MCO on this next Easter weekend. I will be flying out of BOS (BOS-CVG-MCO-BOS) and I am bringing my camera for photography and my Palm Pilot to record registrations (both of which are perfectly legal according to my TSA letter that will be coming along). And since I will be there for a reason (the state trooper...er rambo who kicked me out listed the acceptable reasons for being at BOS are pickup/dropoff a passenger and flying in/out), they can't legally stop me, and if they do, I will very strongly consider filing a lawsuit against them (if they are making up laws and harrasing me in the process, I believe I have legitimate grounds for a lawsuit).

I will try and bring this message up with my local state representative/senator and hope they can help us out by filing a bill to create a deck at BOS (keep in mind, BOS is public property, my tax dollars go to upkeep it), but knowing this state, nothing will happen with good ole Tommy Finneran at the helm.


User currently offlineAKE0404AR From United States of America, joined May 2000, 2535 posts, RR: 41
Reply 11, posted (13 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 2909 times:

It is unfortunate but you gotta face it, spotting has changed since 9-11.

All these recent events were people have been stopped, hassled or maybe harrased happened for a reason.


I am no politician, state official or anything similar!

Just imagine you are being in charge of security at one of those airports.
What would you do?

Boston in particular has been in the critique for many years so have other airports around the nation.

9-11 has showed the US and the World how easy it is to hijack a plane and use it as a deadly device!

I am pretty certain that these terrorists in preperation of this event have been doing excactly the same thing what we call spotting!

Even though you maybe be a 18 year old caucasian male, you have never had any problems with law enforcement. Cops don't know that, jsut by looking at you!

Going to court and pursue a lawsuit against a state trooper who kicked you out of the airport facility, how laim is that!

How are you chances that you are going to win! I would say slim, very slim.

If you are really determine to pursue a lawsait, be prepared for the consequences as well. Might be the case that you are actaully loosing and from that point on, there will be another sign, beside the NO LOITERING.


You want this to happen?

Aviation photographers just make out a small percentage of the overall population in the US!

Tell me a couple of advantages airports have if they let you do what you do best!


If I were still living in the US and wanted to have expsoure, bring up this issue. I would go to the media (TV, print) present them a good story and see of they are picking in up on it!

The other option would be do collect signatures from other avaition enthusiasts, i.e. New England Aviation Club or similar, write up a letter and send it to the govenor of New England.

I also recall that there is a Director of Home Security, write to him as well and present your case!

Rent a cops, Local Police and State Troopers have been given orders and just doing there job. You are not going to change that, especially not with an attitude! If they want to kick you out, they will find a reason for it. Trust me.

It happened to me too and I can only say, courtesy and understanding helped me a great deal when talking to the cop!

America is a free country and US citizen have been granted a lot of rights, but like it or not spotting has changed since 9-11!

Vasco G.

User currently offlineAer Lingus From Ireland, joined May 2000, 1599 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (13 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 2904 times:

I read somewhere, and I can't remember where, that Mohammed Atta spent some time inside the BOS terminal with a notebook and pen writing down such things as security movements and gate operations.........

Now for any of us who regularly take down registrations, what do you think that that may appear to look like to a non-enthusiast or security guard?

Im glad I live in Europe.............

User currently offlineTomh From United States of America, joined May 1999, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (13 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 2885 times:

Frankly, I considered the existence of the Terminal "B" garage roof as a place for spotters to gather as a fluke, an exception. It was something Massport hadn't really thought much about, and we were able to take advantage of it for quite some time. But this isn't the first time restrictions have been placed on the spotting hobby at BOS, or anywhere else for that matter.

If you look at some of my mid-1970s BOS shots, you can see they were taken before the "B" garage was constructed. At the time I took these pictures there was an external observation deck. Then, around 1975 or 1976 they closed that area and photographers had no viable location near the terminal from which to pursue their hobby. I was told the reason the observation deck closed was that it had nothing to do with airline security and everything to do with bad behavior: Some jerk set a trash can on fire and threw it off the deck into the roadway below. Don't know if it's true, but that's the legend that went with closing the old BOS observation deck.

Aircraft spotting and photography has likely been controlled and restricted since the Wright brothers. There was probably someone at Kittyhawk in 1903 with a camera who was complaining that he wasn't allowed out on the sand dunes. I have heard old timers talk about the security restrictions of WWII, and how in some cases it eliminated their hobby-at least for a while. Look at the Official Secrets act in the UK if you want to see what long-term restriction was like. In the 1950s most of the good photography out of England was taken at American bases because the Secrets act prohibited much of the photography at RAF stations. And that went on for about 30+ years!

In the mid-1960s airline hijacking became a threat world-wide and many airports that were very open erected fences and began to restrict movement of people on the property. I used to be able to go to BDL and poke my head (and lens) around the odd corner here and there and shoot airliners sitting at the gate without a telephoto lens. By the late 1960s this was impossible, and some of the unofficial parking areas from which we took landing shots were eliminated. The civilian airports were already becoming inaccessible by that time.

Unfortunately this little bit of recent history illustrates a trend that doesn't bode well for our hobby. Although we pay for the airports through taxes and ticket prices, some else controls access to the property. They are still trying to figure out how to do all this with minimum impact on the traveler. Only through legal channels will you be able to even get them to consider the concerns of the spotter. I doubt the voice of the spotting community is strong enough to get through the noise of a large industry undergoing rapid change, but if you are going to speak up, the legal channel is available to you, and now is the time to do it.

User currently offlineFlpuck6 From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 2123 posts, RR: 27
Reply 14, posted (13 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 2874 times:

I have recently met up with a former New England spotter (I say former only b/c he is now in Miami) who was at BOS in July for two FULL afternoons of spotting with another friend of his who takes photos...I was impressed to hear they were not bothered.


Bonjour Chef!
User currently offlineJderden777 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 1763 posts, RR: 25
Reply 15, posted (13 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2831 times:

I have a problem with something that you said in your post....

"Tell me a couple of advantages airports have if they let you do what you do best!


I have to disagree with you there. Airports have a clear advantage with spotters around. Even though they might try and kick us out, they are kicking themselves in the arse. Spotters/photographers really act like a watchful pair of eyes for the airport, because they know (most of them, anyway) how an airport works and what should happen and what shouldn't....who else are they going to get to hang out around the airport fence all day?!? and for free...if we as spotters see something unusual (like some guy with a rocket launcher jumping over the perimeter fence) then who's going to be the first ones to know about it and to contact the authorities and do something about it?

^ so there's one advantage right there that the airports have

"Aviation photographers just make out a small percentage of the overall population in the US!"

^ since when did that affect our right to enjoy our hobby as much as we can?

"Going to court and pursue a lawsuit against a state trooper who kicked you out of the airport facility, how laim is that!"

^ i don't think that's lame at all....if we're not doing anything illegal at all then why shouldn't we have the right to oppose this harrassment and the illegal action of kicking us out...i mean if i get thrown out of an airport for doing nothing wrong, i'd sure want to find out why i couldn't be there and i wouldn't settle for anything less than a good answer...maybe it's "disrespectful" or something like that, but since when do we deserve to be targets of disrespect by authorities....tell B757300 that it would be lame to file a lawsuit...he's struggling down in CLL just to talk to the proper authorities....

i just don't see why ya have to be so negative about people in the US trying to find out why they cannot enjoy their hobby...maybe it has changed forever, but we want to find out why. there's no reason for us to be treated like this...even if it is for "security" reasons....

i guess it's a lost cause....but that's just my reasoning behind all this....i realize that it's your opinion but this is mine...and i'm just making it known

jonathan d.

"my soul is in the sky" - shakespeare
User currently offlineMirage From Portugal, joined May 1999, 3125 posts, RR: 13
Reply 16, posted (13 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 2829 times:

I have a friend who was plane spotting at Faro, after a while a motorcycle passed by at high speed, didn't brake early and went off the road hiting an emergency door of the airport wich became open, this guy was ok so he picked up the motorcycle and went away from there. My friend saw this all, called the airport, told the situation and a few minutes later some people was at the emergency door fixing it up and closing it.

If it was not my friend spotter the emergency door could be opened hours and hours because that's not a busy place.


User currently offlineDeltAirlines From United States of America, joined May 1999, 9027 posts, RR: 11
Reply 17, posted (13 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 2820 times:

Very excellent stated points Jonathan. I recollect hearing your first argument before, and Luis shows an excellent example of how it can be applied. Let's face the facts: I remember when AF4590 crashed. In both the ensuing day's London Times and Boston Globe, I remember reading that passengers just assumed that the engines "flamed" on takeoff. As aviation enthusiasts, we all know that if we see that going on, we know something is wrong. Some people would think something is wrong, but we can just confirm it.

For your second argument, I agree completely. Yes, we make up the vast minority of the United States. Okay, so I guess it makes it wrong/illegal for fans of other unique hobbies to practice that hobby in this country.

In terms of the lawsuit, let me clarify this a little (I wrote that post when I had been awake for 10 minutes and my brain was turned on fully yet). It would be a last resort. If everything else failed, then yes, I might contemplate a lawsuit. The cops are just making stuff up. As we all know, there is no law against airliner photography/recording tail numbers. All of our TSA letters have that info on it. So, at the least, I could consider filing a legal complaint, and then possibly proceeding with a lawsuit. As I said, a last resort. There are several factors that would determine this, such as the amount of harrasment I encountered, etc. When I was kicked out of BOS the last time, I was brought into the middle of the terminal, where I was grilled in front of everyone, etc, and I was recieving odd stares. Now I know the cop has to be aware of his safety, but in a public cafe that was full is a public enough place, you don't have to go overboard.

I just want to comment on a few final things. In the United States of America, you can do whatever you want, as long as it is within the law. What we are doing is within the context of the law, per the TSA. This is a clear violation of our rights as American citizens.

As for private property concerns. In my view, the public area of the airport is open to everyone. At BOS, there are several quality restaurants and shops, including Cheers, Legal Sea Foods, Staples...Don't think these companies have a clientele of 100% passengers. There are people that go to the airport to eat dinner. Another example is PIT. Prior to 9/11, PIT's SkyMall was considered one of the premier shopping malls at PIT. Now, it is closed to the citizens of Pittsburgh unless they are paying money already just to go somewhere. Also, I am a member of Taxachusetts. I pay enough money to this state already, I should be able to use a state-owned facility that, without the taxpayer's money, would not be in the shape it is today. I am allowed to stand outside the State House, on state-owned property, and politely protest anything without fear.

Another thing, the hypocracy (in my mind) of Massport. They kick me out of the airport because I am watching planes with binoculars, claiming it's suspicious. I can understand this. However, whenever there is a happening at Massport, out come the television cameras and newspapers, taking shots/views of the movements. AND THIS IS ALLOWED!!! They don't allow it for us normal citizens claiming suspiciousness, yet allow the media to do so! In my mind, it is hypocracy. (Do not flame me for this, these are simply my views).

In the interim, I look forward to continual use of the facilities of Manchester (NH) Airport, and my upcoming trip to Burlington (VT) Airport, as well as a possible day trip to Montreal/Dorval this October (depends of some situations, one of which is the treatment of us north of the border).


User currently offlineTu154m From United States of America, joined Oct 2001, 688 posts, RR: 5
Reply 18, posted (13 years 9 months 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 2807 times:

Hello all..........just more words from another dumb American aviation enthusiast, but wouldn't it make sense if airports just opened either existing closed facilities or made new ones where spotters could go??? This would congregate everyone in one place where the "rambos" could watch us, it would fund numerous airport projects by charging an admission fee, and of course, everyone would have to go through a security check, much like ZRH. Every day I hear how people question how this and that will be paid for and the government has to fund this and that for security upgrades at airports. I know I would pay $$$ to have a good deck or roof to photo from. Yet again, the powers that be are proving that it is the American way to be reactive and not proactive.

CEOs should swim with cement flippers!
User currently offlineFlame From Ireland, joined Feb 2001, 21 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 2764 times:

Just back after a visit to Logan , spent a full day on the rooftop carpark..taking photographs and notes...no problems at all, but then, I did stay in the car and tried to not bring notice on my self, and it worked

User currently offlinePropfreak From Switzerland, joined Mar 2000, 157 posts, RR: 7
Reply 20, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 2737 times:

lucky you - didn't have a car available myself and couldn't really hide (because that would look suspicous... Wink/being sarcastic).
glad it worked out for you - maybe if everybody would go to BOS (not together) and have them to repeat their ordeal every day, it would wear them down...

User currently offlineFlpuck6 From United States of America, joined Jun 1999, 2123 posts, RR: 27
Reply 21, posted (13 years 9 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 2739 times:

That's the tough part, the inconsistency. One day one person can spot hassle free, another day another person is given the boot, like Olav, which is unfortunate. The "hiding" game would be fun, though, no?  Big grin


Bonjour Chef!
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