Topic Author
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2001 3:19 pm

Permit Proposal - Read If You Want To Keep Shootin

Mon Jan 21, 2002 7:05 am

Many of us have been stopped by the cops for simply shooting photographs of planes- refer to the other discussion "Stopped by the cops...." . I thought about this last night, and think that if we work together, we can do something about this.

What if someone really good in writing - there has to be someone out there that knows a good lawyer - wrote a proposal to the FAA? It would request that a certain FAA permit could be given to spotters/ photographers. Upon being issued, you would have your background screened and would get a photo ID. Maybe the applicant would have to bring a passport photo (or in the same format) to make the ID. The ID would also come with a small processing fee.

With that, that person would be allowed to spot/ and or shoot (photograph) at any US airport WITH PERMISSION. All photographers and spotters would have to abide by certain regulations that the FAA would set - such as we still wouldn't have ramp access without permission, ladders would have to be a few feet away from the fence, no distracting or interfering with airport regulations, etc...........

In that letter we could also include many names and addresses of aviation photographers from to show that this is not just some wierdo writing the letter, but actually a lot of people.

I think that it is a good idea that would help us aviaition photographers out A LOT! If you like the idea, e-mail me at or leave a message here. Give me your input.

-Alex Feher
Posts: 3879
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:21 am

RE: Permit Proposal - Read If You Want To Keep Shootin

Mon Jan 21, 2002 7:14 am

My first though is, what would the FAA and the airport authorities gain on this? Checking everyones background would be costly and they would need staff to do so. If the holders of these ID's would have to pay for the whole thing with the processing fee, I think it would be far from a small one.
Also, there would still be people spotting without these ID's, so the authorities would still hassle people being around the airport.
Sorry, but I don't think this would work..


Posts: 760
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2001 2:49 am

RE: Permit Proposal - Read If You Want To Keep Shootin

Mon Jan 21, 2002 7:17 am

hmm, I think the FAA don´t care about your (our) "problems"...

RE: Permit Proposal - Read If You Want To Keep Shootin

Mon Jan 21, 2002 7:23 am

I feel sorry for you US guys in that position....

Although you are sincere with what you are proposing, a similar scenario here (UK) would be thrown out...
If it means money... forget it....


Posts: 921
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2001 2:04 pm

RE: Permit Proposal - Read If You Want To Keep Shootin

Mon Jan 21, 2002 7:49 am

Staffan is right...

Maybe it would work for US citizens, but, what about the thousands of spotters worldwide who travel to the US for photos/tailnumber hunting ?

They would not be able to be have a background screen made by the FAA, so would they provide local made background reports translated to english ? So I hardly belive that the FAA would accept this...

A good friend of mine went back from MIA some 4 days ago, and although he managed to make very nice photos, he was harassed(sp.?) by the police at least 3 times. One time the cop even took a Polaroid photo of him!!

So, the best to do right now is avoid over exposure in the US as this could lead ultimately to a permanet ban of the hobby.. C'mon guys, the world is not only the US (nothing against it, well said), instead of staying/going there, maybe this is the good excuse everyone was waiting for a nice spotting trip abroad the US, or to any other country where stress level is lower.

I guess the world is not that small, is it ?  Smile

My 0.02 worth...

Renato Salzinger
(happy with the normal status towards spotting by our local authorities)
"ad astra per aspera"
Posts: 2192
Joined: Wed Aug 15, 2001 9:24 am

RE: Permit Proposal - Read If You Want To Keep Shootin

Mon Jan 21, 2002 8:26 am

I would have to say it's a good idea though. It's just one problem with that though. Someone had talked about this before about how should have the same thing that he is saying though. I think it's a good idea but there are some downsides to it.
"He was right, it is a screaming metal deathtrap!"-Cosmo (from the Fairly Oddparents)
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Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2001 6:33 am

RE: Permit Proposal - Read If You Want To Keep Shootin

Mon Jan 21, 2002 8:45 am

To the original poster,

There are a few things that are going to be a problem. That phrase "WITH PERMISSION" will be at the root of it. I can see wasting a lot of time getting my photo taken, filling out a form, and paying money for an ID. Then, I go and try to take photos at the local airport and dont get permission anyway. I think that possessing this ID should gaurantee you the right to take photos period. Sure, they can check your ID and ask questions, but it should not be up to the bearer of the ID to still have to get permission after going through those hoops.

Another problem would be all of the people who are not enthusiasts like us, but occasionally take a picture of an airplane. Suddenly, they are at the gate arguing with the National Guard about how they need an ID to take pictures.

The idea is noble, but I dont think it will work.
Posts: 2031
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2001 2:33 pm

RE: Permit Proposal - Read If You Want To Keep Shootin

Mon Jan 21, 2002 8:47 am

No way. Here in Canada, I've been out at the fence and I've had the security stop and talk to me, not about what I was doing but if I knew when the Monarch A330 was comming in. I've been spotting and photographing airplanes at 2 different airports and I haven't been hasseled or anything.

The idea wouldn't work because there are so many other people who spot that aren't on There are airports that have observation lounges, would you need a pass to get in there? It's not needed. Just use common sense and don't do anything stupid.
Mark McWhirter...Contrails Photography
Posts: 3758
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2000 1:04 pm

RE: Permit Proposal - Read If You Want To Keep Shootin

Mon Jan 21, 2002 8:53 am


While your idea has only good intentions, I have to agree with Staffan and Ivi.

First, we are not (if you will pardon the pun) on the FAA's radar. We must keep reminding ouselves that as far as hobbies go 'plane spotting/photography' do not exist in the eyes of the overall US population (even those in the biz) and even in it's birhtplace the UK, it is a mystifing pastime. Also, keep in mind that there are NO FAA rules against photographing civil airliners in the US from an observation area or any area where you are not interfering with aircraft operations, i.e the ramp...Period! The problem is communication...the police, nat'l guard, ect..have not been educated about us, and why should they ? Again it is the lack of visibality that this hobby has. The #1 reason that cops stop us, is because someone saw us up against a fence with a ladder (I still have a problem with the use of ladders, even before 9/11 I questioned the wisdom of using these) and made a cell phone call. Remember we (the US) are still under the highest state of alert ever, and for the average person seeing you up on a ladder pointing a camera at a plane, well that would definetly send up a few red flags. Frankly, if I were not a spotter/photographer, I would probably call that in as well.. Speaking to several officers, most rather not bother with us, they have bigger fish to fry, but they are required to respond to those calls.

Also keep in mind that places like NYC where aviation photography has been tightly controlled since the late 80s, these rules are not laid down by the FAA, rather by the Port Authority. In many instaces where a cop states "It is against FAA rules" that is pure BS, but if he/she should happen to say that "there is a city ordinace forbidding...." then you had better do your homework on local ordinaces, before venturing out to the airport. Technically, an airport terminal is public property, funded by the taxpayers and as such you can photograph to your heart's content except of course for the screening areas, customs and other sensitive areas, however it gets a whole lot grayer when you are outside of the terminal and on the roadways that circle said airport.

Second, the last thing I want is another gov't buercracy dictating to me if I am allowed to enjoy one of my passions. I lost my ham radio ticket many years ago because I would not obey the FCC's tyranical and outdated rules.

Third, no one in their right mind pay a 'fee' to watch planes!

Actually, the ball is in our court. And with the recent spotter incident in Greece, we are not exactly batting a 1000 right now in the eyes of the public. We can either give the local authorities a hard time and further hurt our cause or we can move on and contact our local represenitive in congress, the city, the airport authority, police, ect...and keep pestering them until they acknowledge your complaint. IMHO, however nothing short of organazing, nationally or internationally and bringing our hobby to the forefront and getting some good press will give us the visability that we sorely need..

On a side note, I would be interested in hearing from any European spotter/photographer who was active in the early 70s when Carlos'the Jackal' attacked an EL AL 707 (missed) with an RPG from the observation areat at ORY. If I remember correctly, as a result, security was heightened to unprecedinted levels. So how did that effect spotting and photography. Perhaps we in the US can learn something from that incident

Just my.02

"Show me the Braniffs"

RE: Permit Proposal - Read If You Want To Keep Shootin

Mon Jan 21, 2002 9:24 am

Yes, ORY observation terrace was closed in 1981 when I was first visited there and in 2000, still closed, albeit, the security during my 2000 visit was pretty lax (hint) . It's probably tighter now.
Even LHR during the 1970's was tight. Scorpion tanks were patrolling the airport. Tough times, but it does get better....It takes time....relax...there's nothing you can do...


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RE: Permit Proposal - Read If You Want To Keep Shootin

Mon Jan 21, 2002 9:51 am

That has got to be the dumbest idea that I have heard of all day. And I've been up since 6:00am this morning.

Mark Abbott
Denver, CO
A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man...

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