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ORD Spotter Question: Police Hassle?  
User currently offlineManta From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 73 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 2437 times:


I was wondering if there were any laws in the U.S. that prohibit people from taking pictures while in a public place of the airport, (parking garage, public access road, etc..) of commercial aircraft??

I'm looking to find out if I'm going to be hassled by the police if I'm just taking pictures with my digital camera while legally parked.

Any comments would be appreciated.



10 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineUAL Bagsmasher From United States of America, joined Sep 1999, 2153 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 2389 times:

I wouldn't press your luck with ORD. They are notorious for giving spotters a hard time. Even with an ORD badge, I've gotten hassled.

User currently offlineJacobin777 From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 15375 posts, RR: 58
Reply 2, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 2367 times:

Yah..unfortunately, I've been told to "beat it" a times myself.

Off of Irving Park Rd. used to be good (though somewhat illegal)..there used be families stopping along the road but I dont know whats come of it since 9/11....

"Up the Irons!"
User currently offlineORDflyer From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 511 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 2270 times:

As others have said, its sort of a toss up. I've always had pretty good luck spotting at ORD, but I haven't been spotting there lately and have heard all the stories of people being chased away. There are alot of office/commercial buildings surrounding ORD, if you go on a weekend (when nobody's working in these buildings) you may have some good luck.

User currently offlineTrickijedi From United States of America, joined May 2001, 3266 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 2169 times:

Manta, I cannot tell you how many times I have been hassled by ORD security over the years... most happened before 9.11.

They've looked through my bags, taken down my info, grilled me thoroughly... no strip search though  Big thumbs up

Seriously, using the power vested in them by whomever, they become assholes.

If you're gonna spot at ORD, make sure there's a road dividing you and and airport grounds. They're very protective when you're right by the fence.

Its better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than be in the air wishing you were on the ground. Fly safe!
User currently offlineFriendlySkies From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 4139 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 2035 times:

I've gotten chased away a few times, but I find that you can get some nice shots from York Rd. right along 14R/32L. Never had a hard time there.

User currently offlineLeelaw From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 2023 times:

I was told to leave the roadway in front of the MDW terminal on Sunday by a Chicago Police Officer. He cited an FAA rule prohibiting photography on the airfield? He was very polite, and mentioned he usually doesn't bother photographers but someone had complained and he was responding. On the same day on my way back from DEN, a lady got in my face for taking pictures from a window in McDonalds on a concourse while eating my breakfast. Sometimes you have to fight the sun, window reflections, and paranoid Security (formerly Soccer) Moms simultaneously.

[Edited 2004-10-21 14:44:51]

User currently offlineAirbusfanYYZ From Canada, joined Oct 2002, 1457 posts, RR: 22
Reply 7, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1937 times:

I used to always go spotting without hassle off Higgins Rd. Just west of Manheim, there is a little dirt lot that provided some nice views of 22R arrivals. There is also an office building just east of that lot which has a parking garage it is possible to get some nice pics from there too.

Another location was off Irving Park, down the road where FedEx and the other cargo locations are....all the way to the end. From here you can take pics of 9R/27L activity (9R arrivals and 27L Departures) as well as 32L departure lineups.

I haven't been spotting in ORD since 9-11 so I am not sure if it is prudent to visit these spots anymore.


[Edited 2004-10-21 19:21:44]

[Edited 2004-10-21 19:25:32]

User currently offlineDanny From Poland, joined Apr 2002, 3535 posts, RR: 3
Reply 8, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1909 times:

Buy the cheapest ticket to wherever and go inside the terminal. I have never been hassled there.

User currently offlineILSApproach From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 410 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1890 times:

I've found that the small factory area on the west side (York Road) is a very good spot, especially for 9R International arrivals, or near the airport post office for 4R. I have been stopped by Bensenville Police a few times, but after being checked out (run through the system) they always went on their way.
Though I hate being hassled by them, I hate to say they are doing their job. Once they find out what's up I usually get left alone.

I know during the week when these businesses are running there are plenty of people that can get suspicious and call police. I guess that's the world we live in now unfortuanetly.

I have had Chicago Police kick me out of the cemetary on the SW corner of the field. It is such a great place as you are right on the end of 9R. He told me it was privately owned cemetary and if I didn't know anyone buried there I have no business there! I can see their concern as the FedEx ramp is right there and you can be as close as 20-30 feet to overnighting aircraft!

I am from MSP and I go to ORD at least 4-5 times a summer, I almost always have good luck with local authorities. I myself among others who have stayed at the Hilton have had a knock on the door from hotel security in regards to photo taking. Kind of pathetic if you ask me, guess the tower and/or ramp people report this if you are seen taking pics from the hotel!

All in all my ORD experiences are great! 9R is the place to be!! Unless you want to watch the endless stream of UA and AA and a couple thousand American Eagle flights.

There are many small factories around the airport that do offer great views of aircraft and on the weekends are normally hassle-free.

Mike @ MSP

User currently offline7E72004 From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 3587 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (11 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 1882 times:

I have not really had any problems at ord. I mostly fly into MDW when going to chicago. I usually go atop the garage and sit on one of the concrete stands...some decent views of LCCs  Big thumbs up

The next generation of aircraft is just around the corner!
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