johnsiebert
Posts: 123
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2007 4:12 am

USA-Spotting In General

Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:31 pm

Hey guys
I came to the US 6 weeks ago and will live here for about 10 months so I have plenty of time left to go spotting. I just wanted to know how that works for the US, I have been here a couple of times on vacation but not really for spotting. As far as I know since 9/11 the police or the authorities dont really like people spotting planes right? So I wanted to know how the US-Spotters are taking photos and what I have to be aware of going out and spotting planes. Is it better to inform the Airport about and get maybe kind of permisson for it, maybe as a journalist or something, cause I have a presscard. I just dont want to get in trouble :P

Btw. Any spotting tips for Airports located in Arizona (thats where I'm at) California, Nevada, New Mexico, or Texas are really appreciated!!

thanks in advance

John
 
727LOVER
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RE: USA-Spotting In General

Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:31 pm



Quoting Johnsiebert (Thread starter):
since 9/11 the police or the authorities dont really like people spotting planes right?

Tough buggers for them cause guess what? It is PEFECTLY LEGAL to photograph commercial aircraft.

You're in Arizona? PHX is pretty good. LAX & LAS are pretty good too.
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
chuck9941
Posts: 176
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RE: USA-Spotting In General

Wed Sep 16, 2009 10:46 pm

check out www.spotterswiki.com will give you good info.

PHX has the T4 parking garage. LAS has a designated spot plus multiple other areas that aren't too bothersome. LAX has Imperial Hill, In n Out, Proud Bird. SAN, SNA, LGB all have areas that are convenient. the website above has info on all of these spots.
Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows and wheels and it looks like a big Tylenol.
 
ThomasWarloe
Posts: 265
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2008 11:52 pm

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:51 am

SNA is really convenient, there is one place that is especially good for taking pictures there. Just look at my photos on myaviation to see how close you can get to the planes at SNA and at LAX. The only thing with SNA is that there are not that many airlines there- that is why I prefer LAX. I have never shot at Long Beach before, though. If you are seriously thinking about coming to the LA area, email me through my profile and I will send you the exact location of the spotting place at SNA.

-Thomas
 
ake0404ar
Posts: 2379
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 10:55 am

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 17, 2009 7:09 am



Quoting Johnsiebert (Thread starter):
cause I have a presscard.

I don't know which entity issued your press ID, but I doubt they will honor a German one.
Generally speaking a lot has changed, but if you use common sense you should have no problem at all.

Vasco
 
saintex
Posts: 173
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:54 pm

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:21 pm



Quoting Johnsiebert (Thread starter):
As far as I know since 9/11 the police or the authorities dont really like people spotting planes right?

The biggest problem in the US is the total lack of consistency. At some airports nobody will bother you, at others they will think you are OBL himself. Then there are the 'members of the public', who can report your suspicious activity(sic) to the local cops with impunity.

Others have mentioned the 'safe' places in their regions; best course is to post here asking about the situation at any other specific airport(s) you have in mind. I think we pretty much have coverage everywhere.

Good hunting.
 
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Moose135
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RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:48 pm



Quoting 727LOVER (Reply 1):
Tough buggers for them cause guess what? It is PEFECTLY LEGAL to photograph commercial aircraft.

That doesn't stop a "concerned citizen" from reporting suspicious behavior to the police, who are then required to check out the report, often resulting in a protracted meeting where you are asked to present identification and are questioned about what you are doing. And if you are on private property - say a mall parking lot, or even on airport grounds, you may be asked to leave, regardless of whether the photography part is legal or not.

Been there, done that, got to meet the FBI...
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
 
whisperjet
Crew
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RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:18 pm

That reminds me of a police officer in LAX who insisted on writing down my social security number, which I, as a citizen of Denmark and Germany, of course don't have. Took me about half an hour to convince him that there is no need to fill the gap in his form...

Stefan

PS: I hope you are doing well, John!
Nobody is perfect - not even a perfect fool.
 
gabik001
Posts: 238
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2005 9:16 am

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 17, 2009 9:46 pm

I am taking a photos of aicraft in Chicagoland area since 2005 and met piloce or FBI three times. Once I was try to hide between buildings and officer saw me and thought I am trying to get without permission on private property (it was sunday) .Second time I was taking a shots thru fence at ORD cargo south. FBI invite me to black crown victoria... They saw my equipment and said I have to erease all shots and go home. And last time was last year when early morning I was shooting on the side. Somebody saw me and called police that some guy is pointing aircrafts with something longer... One officer stopped and said he has to call for K-9 unit to search my car. After all we made a friendly conversation about cameras and lesnes and he said it is nothing illegal in palnespotting , but if they receivng the call they have to check it out...
So the point is that everything looks ok , but if you are doing some suspicious moves you will be checked.

[Edited 2009-09-17 14:48:45]
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alasdair1982
Posts: 304
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2008 11:16 pm

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:13 pm

Remember last October when I visited San Francisco, I was returning back to the city after an afternoon at Coyote Point, but had a while to wait for the next Caltrain from Millbrae, so went to the top of car park to watch what was going on, and spent 15-20 minutes there with a male and female cop who were there with ice creams watching the Blue Angels  Smile

Would have got a nice shot of a UA 744 turning onto 1R had it not been for the power cables ruining the view!
 
paulinbna
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RE: USA-Spotting In General

Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:33 am

It is so different from airport to airport. Some airports you need a "permission" letter. Some you won't even get approached and others you will. In my experience if you get approached and you know you are on a public street or side walk and you get "run off". Leave. when you get home write every one you can think of a certified letter reminding them that it is 1st amendment right for you to be on the said street. This has happened to me more then once at a few airports. And every time the head of the airport or chief of police know the law.

And they can not I repeat can not make you erase your pictures with out a search warrant. This is a major violation of your rights, but having said that it also easier to plead your case when you are not in the back of a police car. If I was asked to this I would erase the card. You can recover the pics later for free if you don't take any more pictures on that card. And I would raise all total hell to the supervisors of who ever told you to do that. If that does not work your local media will be all to happy to run a story about the subject.

Another thing you can do if your local airport is not friendly with photographer's. Just try shooting an email to the public affairs or head of police and telling him/her that there will be people out and about around the airport taking pictures from legal spots. IE..Side walks. If they say no to begin with politely remind them about the 1st amendment. You will be amazed at what can be accomplished by taking this route instead of just getting ran off all the time.

Hope this helps.
Canon 50D user; 100-400 MM L IS 10-22 MM, 60MM Macro
 
Dehowie
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RE: USA-Spotting In General

Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:58 am

So with all this discussion how is it for "visitors" to the States.
If local Americans are having a hard time explaining there way out of situations are there any experiences good and bad from people overseas visiting the US?
I mean how are local police going to be if you arnt even a US citizen to be taking photos round the airports.
Any places to stay away from??
Any in particular who are welcoming to visitors like Japan?
Ive heard LAX is pretty good now what about Vegas or SFO and anyone else want to chime in who has visited and been given the once over and how did you explain what you where up to??
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Longhornmaniac
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RE: USA-Spotting In General

Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:41 am

In Texas, DFW has a revamped Founders' Plaza, which offers some awesome views of north ops (the majority).

IAH has some good locations as well, and there is a rabid Houston Spotters Group that will assist you in all your needs.

And if you're down here in AUS, I'd be glad to meet up and show you around. We've got a couple of decent places, and some decent variety.

Cheers,
Cameron
Cheers,
Cameron
 
sovietjet
Posts: 2558
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2003 12:32 am

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:29 am

I usually take photos at O'hare and I've been approached three times. The first time I had a tripod setup for night shots and officers came...he checked my camera and then they stayed with me enjoying the low flying planes above our heads for an hour and they played the "guessing game" of what kind of aircraft is lined up. When plane traffic died down we all left. The second time I just got checked but not told to leave.

The third time I got approached by a private security cop(aka not a real cop) and he told me the control tower had called him to tell me to leave  Silly  Silly . Yea right, as if they don't have enough to do as it is(like maybe handle the traffic of the world's second busiest airport!) Also, I'm sure the control tower will call the police and not some private security  Yeah sure . This guy was full of it, I was on a public street and a real police car had just passed by not 5 minutes ago and just gave me a quick look without even stopping. He told me to leave immediately and erase all my photos. I didn't do it of course, and after about 10min of arguing the plane I was waiting for landed...I snapped my photos and left without erasing anything. I could've argued my way out of it but this guy had absolutely no idea what he was saying...and it was getting dark soon so I left.

At Las Vegas I have spotted several times with no problems AT ALL.
 
paulinbna
Posts: 1046
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 1:18 pm

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:38 am



Quoting Sovietjet (Reply 13):
The third time I got approached by a private security cop(aka not a real cop) and he told me the control tower had called him to tell me to leave Silly Silly . Yea right, as if they don't have enough to do as it is(like maybe handle the traffic of the world's second busiest airport!) Also, I'm sure the control tower will call the police and not some private security Yeah sure . This guy was full of it, I was on a public street and a real police car had just passed by not 5 minutes ago and just gave me a quick look without even stopping. He told me to leave immediately and erase all my photos. I didn't do it of course, and after about 10min of arguing the plane I was waiting for landed...I snapped my photos and left without erasing anything. I could've argued my way out of it but this guy had absolutely no idea what he was saying...and it was getting dark soon so I left.

That is a simple one if he touches you or your camera you call the police and file a complaint against him. If he gets in your face and argues tell him you are not going to talk to him and if he has a problem he can call the police. Usually the later will shut him up, These kind of people usually are just used to people just getting scared and going away. When some one talks back they have no idea how to handle the situation.

Did you happen to get the company he worked for? I would of noted that and called the company the next day and explained to them that one of there employees were violating my civil rights. If you don't stand up for your rights this person will do this over and over again.
Canon 50D user; 100-400 MM L IS 10-22 MM, 60MM Macro
 
paulinbna
Posts: 1046
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 1:18 pm

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Fri Sep 18, 2009 7:41 am



Quoting Dehowie (Reply 11):
Any in particular who are welcoming to visitors like Japan?

BNA has a great observation area and we have an excellent relationship with the airport police. It has taken some work from the Nashville Aviation Photographers here but all the hard work has paid dividends.
Canon 50D user; 100-400 MM L IS 10-22 MM, 60MM Macro
 
sovietjet
Posts: 2558
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2003 12:32 am

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Tue Sep 22, 2009 4:14 am



Quoting Paulinbna (Reply 10):

You keep saying to mention the first amendment but isn't that just the right to freedom of speech? How is that relevant to being on a public spot and taking photos and how is it relevant to someone telling you to erase your photos? Basically, I don't want to come off as misinformed if I ever decide to start with reciting the laws  Big grin

Reason I say this: Today I was at the same spot I wrote about a couple of posts above. Lots of cars driving by. Of course about 10 minutes after I get there a guy in a car drives up to me, stops, gives me a very dirty look and leaves. 3 minutes later another guy comes by my car and stops behind it. Keep in mind these are civilians, people driving home from work. I start to approach him to see what's up and he motions for me not to come closer(he is on the phone). Then he asks me what I'm doing and to see my hands  Confused . I tell him I'm just taking photos. He said he has called the police. Then he left. I left before any police got there since the resulting confrontation would've wasted the better part of the sunset which is what I was there for. So...the "concerned civilian" is a big problem here in the USA and I don't see why in the USA so many people feel the need to rat out the other guy...or get in people's business  Yeah sure
 
727LOVER
Posts: 6802
Joined: Tue Oct 09, 2001 12:22 am

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Tue Sep 22, 2009 2:36 pm



Quoting Sovietjet (Reply 16):
Today I was at the same spot I wrote about a couple of posts above.

I know ORD fairly well. Just curious where this spot is and should I try it next time I visit.
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
 
chuck9941
Posts: 176
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2005 2:58 pm

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:16 pm



Quoting 727LOVER (Reply 17):

Quoting Sovietjet (Reply 16):
Today I was at the same spot I wrote about a couple of posts above.

I know ORD fairly well. Just curious where this spot is and should I try it next time I visit.

With the recent arrests made in Colorado and New York, I think a few people might be a bit skittish or possibly looking for some bragging that they foiled some type of thing.

It just happens in some areas. Take LAX, you are fine from Imperial Hill or In n Out but if you have your camera out (just around your neck not even taking photos) in one of the remote parking lots (which incidentally is not far at all from In n Out) and the airport police are around get ready to be followed to you car and asked questions.
Oh, it's a big pretty white plane with red stripes, curtains in the windows and wheels and it looks like a big Tylenol.
 
JohnJ
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RE: USA-Spotting In General

Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:29 pm

Those of us in the New York area are well accustomed to the "If You See Something, Say Something" program. While well-intentioned, it makes things quite difficult for those of us who find items that have become prime terrorist targets (trains, airplanes, airports, bridges, tunnels) to be fascinating and worthy of capture on camera. Many of the law enforcement brushes I've had in the past while photographing have come about as a result of someone calling me in. To that end, when I'm out and about I try to be as friendly and outgoing as possible to passers-by. I don't know if that helps or not, but one thing that sure does is having my kids with me. That's a near-certain get out of jail free card!

 
paulinbna
Posts: 1046
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 1:18 pm

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Wed Sep 23, 2009 8:38 am



Quoting Sovietjet (Reply 16):
You keep saying to mention the first amendment but isn't that just the right to freedom of speech? How is that relevant to being on a public spot and taking photos and how is it relevant to someone telling you to erase your photos? Basically, I don't want to come off as misinformed if I ever decide to start with reciting the laws

There are many many court cases that support this. What you are leaving out is the first amendment also is the right to a free press.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_A..._to_the_United_States_Constitution

From the above website:

"The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the part of the Bill of Rights that expressly prohibits the Congress from making laws "respecting an establishment of religion", prohibiting the free exercise of religion, infringing the freedom of speech, infringing the freedom of the press, limiting the right to peaceably assemble, or limiting the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Deleting your pictures has nothing to do with the 1st amendment it has all to with that they need a court order (search warrant) to even look at your pictures. Kind of like the police can't just search your car unless you have committed a crime and photography is not a crime. But like I said before it is easier to argue your point when you are not in the back of a police car and remember you can be held for 24 hours with out being charged.

Read through this document to get more info:

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

There is a lot more info on the web about your 1st amendment rights taking pictures.

If you have any more questions please feel free to ask. I am no expert at the law side of it. But I have had a lot of experience on the writing emails and letters side of it.
Canon 50D user; 100-400 MM L IS 10-22 MM, 60MM Macro
 
2H4
Posts: 7960
Joined: Tue Oct 19, 2004 11:11 pm

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:52 pm



Quoting JohnJ (Reply 19):
having my kids with me. That's a near-certain get out of jail free card!

Having a girl with you works well, too. I've found that passer-bys don't view me with as much suspicion as when I'm alone. Apparently, the general public assumes terrorist photographers can't possibly have girlfriends.

2H4
Intentionally Left Blank
 
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Moose135
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RE: USA-Spotting In General

Wed Sep 23, 2009 6:21 pm



Quoting JohnJ (Reply 19):
To that end, when I'm out and about I try to be as friendly and outgoing as possible to passers-by.

We had a big group out, maybe 20 people, on Saturday for UN week arrivals. We were in a local shopping center parking lot, one of our regular spotting locations. One guy in the group waved at every car that slowed down to look at us - many drivers/passengers smiled and waved back. No one called the PD, and we didn't even get a second glance from the patrol car that went by, and I expect it was in no small part to the friendly face we put on with the general public.
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
 
sovietjet
Posts: 2558
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2003 12:32 am

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:24 am



Quoting 727LOVER (Reply 17):
I know ORD fairly well. Just curious where this spot is and should I try it next time I visit.

This is the exact location. As you can see it is a public road, outside the fence and not in anybody's way. I stay on the corner to take photos.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...682&spn=0.004122,0.012188&t=h&z=17

Quoting Paulinbna (Reply 20):
infringing the freedom of the press

I read that part and I thought it doesn't apply since I'm not part of the press? Or does any photographer count as press? By the way the link you gave is very useful and I have printed a copy to carry with me if I ever need it.
 
PhilGil
Posts: 228
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2005 7:21 am

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 24, 2009 4:22 am

As others have said, spotting in the US is not illegal but police behavior toward spotters can be erratic and upredictable. Expect that you'll have a conversation with a law enforcement officer at some point during the time you'll be in the US. For the most part, they'll just be checking up on you because they recived a complaint from a "concerned citizen" (who can't tell the difference between a zoom lens and a grenade launcher).

A typcal experience will go something like this...A couple of months ago, I had a very awkward conversation with a Port of Portland police officer. He admitted that I was doing nothing wrong, that I was on public property and that he couldn't force me to leave - but, nonetheless, he would really, really, really appreciate it if I would go. I was quite shocked as it was the first time in 6 years of photography at PDX that I had been run off.
 
paulinbna
Posts: 1046
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 1:18 pm

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:17 am



Quoting Sovietjet (Reply 23):
I read that part and I thought it doesn't apply since I'm not part of the press? Or does any photographer count as press?

Photography part counts as press. It pretty much is saying that as long as you are in a public area with a camera you are legal because of the freedom of the press part.
Canon 50D user; 100-400 MM L IS 10-22 MM, 60MM Macro
 
saintex
Posts: 173
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 10:54 pm

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:07 pm



Quoting PhilGil (Reply 24):
He admitted that I was doing nothing wrong, that I was on public property and that he couldn't force me to leave - but, nonetheless, he would really, really, really appreciate it if I would go.

If he can't force you to leave, then stay !


 camera 
 
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ManuCH
Crew
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RE: USA-Spotting In General

Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:51 pm

Even more stupid things can happen. I was at One Federal Plaza in NYC when I was approached by an FBI agent. She asked me if I had taken pictures of a specific building - which I didn't. She then asked me to please not take any pictures of that building "because it's a federal building", and to enjoy the rest of my vacation.

Of course I complied, I didn't care about that building and I didn't want to waste my vacation in an FBI office discussing rights and whatnot. But still, go figure...  Confused
Never trust a statistic you didn't fake yourself
 
AnonymousInSAN
Posts: 76
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2007 10:36 am

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:04 am

The Fourth Amendment is what protects us from unreasonable search and seizure:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers,
and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be
violated; and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported
by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be
searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Quoting Paulinbna (Reply 20):
Read through this document to get more info:

http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

I read this article back in February. Everyone should definitely read this!
 
paulinbna
Posts: 1046
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 1:18 pm

RE: USA-Spotting In General

Fri Sep 25, 2009 7:36 am



Quoting ManuCH (Reply 27):
Even more stupid things can happen. I was at One Federal Plaza in NYC when I was approached by an FBI agent

With the arrest of the guy from Denver, I have a feeling that a lot of people (law enforcement or the general public) will be worring us even more.
Canon 50D user; 100-400 MM L IS 10-22 MM, 60MM Macro

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