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Topic Author
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Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:07 am

I have been in the airline business for almost 17 years now and have never understood plane spotting. Maybe I don't have the love for airplanes, that some of you have but I just don't get it. Without labeling me a heretic and giving me the third degree, how can you sit at an airport and take pictures of the same plane types over and over? I guess it's like bird watching, I don't get that either.

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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:14 am

I just like it, can't explain why.
We want to get as many regs as possible on Film, not just types.

joe pries
Posts: 1922
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:17 am

how does my father golf- to me its boring as heck. how do people go to the beach and just sit there all day- boring.

We enjoy something that is different and fun to us. and to some of us it is a second job- there is a demand for airplane pictures and there are alot of people who are willing to pay alot of $$ for pictures for their collections. email me and ill forward you to a site where slides are auctioned off- when you see some of the prices people pay you'll break into a sweat.

Topic Author
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:23 am

Getting tail numbers on film is kinda odd don't ya think? Honestly, I think down deep, your looking to capture possible air crashes on film. I maybe wrong here but this must play into sitting in a car for hours watching planes fly over. I mean you would probably get better pictures of the young couples making out in the nearby car. All in fun people just curious.

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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:26 am

I think a lot of it is just a pure love of aviation... I have to admit, I always thought the true spotters with their notebooks and binoculars were a little strange as well. Yet, here I was doing the exact same thing, except I was using a camera! The spotting aspect still doesn't interest me much, I just do what I do because I love photography in general, plus aviation is my lifelong passion. Aviation nut + photography nut = aviation photographer.  Smile

Aric Thalman
Omaha, NE
To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:27 am

Different people, different interests.
wouldnt it be boring if all people had the same interests?
joe pries
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:30 am

keep in mind alot of us are regular guys- i have a wife and kid and a dayjob as do many of ther others, though there are alot of single guys in their high teens and 20's here. but we're not some dopey nerds.

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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:31 am

We are all mentally disturbed individuals...jk. I think, for me anyways, it started with my father doing air frieght and he would take me on the ramp and I'd sit there and watch the planes (I must have been 4 years old), my aunt and uncle working for CO, my grandparents working for TWA in STL, and me living 3 miles from MCO under the approach for the 18 runways. With all those factors thrown at me, airplanes/spotting kinda grew on me.

(Was the only 2nd grader that knew the difference between a DC-10/L1011, and knew that the fuel went in the wings and not engines!  Laugh out loud )
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:31 am

I don't understand the reg # thing either. I mean going to airports all over the world with a notebook and writing down reg #'s. I'm really not concerned about the reg #'s. But who am I to criticize, I take pictures of the damn things.  Nuts

I guess it's just a combination of a love of photography and a love of aviation. Plus it's better than sitting in front of a tv all day!

If I saw people making out in a nearby car, I would be sure to get that as well.  Big grin
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:33 am

Jow wrote:
but we're not some dopey nerds.

Having said that there are some right heads out there.

And befoer soemone says it, no im not one of 'em

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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:49 am

Tech you a pilot, if so ever gone down to the local airport and critque landings. Just wierd things that people do.

Oh well I could never fly straight and level for more than an hour, I would always be banking or doing something, I don't get how the airline captains do that either.
At worst, you screw up and die.
Topic Author
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 4:59 am

I am a Technical Representative for Fairchild/Dornier and provide technical assistance to airlines. I usualy come into the game when they can't fix a problem or work with engineers to come up with a long term fix. I was a mechanic for 16 years and would drive to work and "spotters" at LAX when I worked there. When I was waiting for a plane to arrive and I was close to the gate, the same guys would always ask, "what reg is coming in". I had no idea what the hell they were talking about. Then it dawned on me, once I decrypted the lingo, they wanted to know what tail number it was.
I just thought it was a little odd and they would always get harrased. We had one guy come to ABX for almost 2 years, finally we adopted the guy and would let him sit in the maintenance truck with us. He would take pictures like crazy, snap snap at everything. He showed up like clockwork till one day he never showed up again without notice. We were all very worried but we never bothered to get his personal info. Hell I don't even remember his name now, but he drove a motorcycle and was about 50 years old.

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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 5:02 am

Man was not made to fly. The sky is not our natural element so everytime an aircraft takeoff into the sky it's challenging the mother Nature.

This challenge is fascinating, that's the secret  Smile

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Photo © Luis Rosa


RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 5:03 am

I guess it would be like collecting baseball cards, you try and get(in this case shoot) everyone there is. That is the best wasy I can explain it.

Topic Author
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Tue Jan 29, 2002 5:17 am

What's the absolute pinnacle of the hobby. What makes others say "Damn he's the best!"

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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 5:20 am

The answer is simple if you know the OST locals... drinking some beers next to the rwy when a Tu-134 departs at 2am, pure Soloviev music... Big grin

An-225 stalker: 1 x LUX, 1 x EIN, 1 x DXB, 2 x SHJ, 3 x CGN
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 5:25 am

TechRep, check out some of these:

You'll see plenty of great shots here.
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 5:53 am

The important thing to me is that you have a healthy interest in life which you can take off with and relax as you see fit. Some people spend hours trying to catch fish. Some collect postage stamps. In England some people knock my hobby and poke fun. It often turns out that they have shallow lives which are centred on getting drunk or fighting or sometimes both. Each to his own.

I personally don't treat it as a competition to beat the other guys. I prefer to be more laid back and the fascination for me is visiting airports without knowing what planes are going to show up. You can get 'dead' days or a stack of rare visitors if you are lucky. In any case you get fresh air, also travel, meet people and discuss the aviation 'scene'. It also takes quite a while to get into it, learn the type recognitions, improve your photo skills - without the 'knowledge' it may appear meaningless to the outsider.

It's like women, you can have a great time with both but aircraft don't let you down so often!!!


RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 6:12 am

... and aircraft don't talk either......
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 6:15 am

I just want to take photos of aircraft, can't explain it, something beautiful, spectacular. I want people to see it too, and capture them at just that very moment.


Dan  Smokin cool
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 6:26 am

Hello !
I have a rest when I take photos of aircraft after a busy week. Blue sky, sun, fresh air, Tupolev, Antonov or Ilyushin - it is what i need at such moments  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 6:42 am

Well, I'm not sure I understand pure spotting - I can never figure standing under the flight path without a camera  Smile

But when it comes to photography ... well I guess for me aircraft are the perfect example of form following function - these things are, in my opinion, the epitome of design. Couple that with their natural environment - I mean the sky and clouds can be just beautiful, but most people just give it a passing glance - add a flash of sun off polished metal, some wild colour schemes - photo heaven! Plus there's the thrill of the chase - both in capturing that rare bird, but also looking for a way to portray a 737 in a new way.

For me the "spotting" is an incidental - I don't collect regs, but like any specialised photography, the more you know and understand your subject, the better able you'll be to get the right results.

I think anyone who has seen people hanging around the airport taking pics and decided to have a go themselves has discovered there's a bit more to the hobby than would appear at first glance - esp. when they try to upload to!


Colin K. Work, Pixstel
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 6:47 am


Let me ask you this. What do you enjoy doing as an avocation and why ? Frankly, I have never understood the fascination with Golf, Tennis, or many of the other so called 'normal' hobbies ?

To be honest however, the 'reg chasing' is not my thing. I am merely looking to get some stunning images on film of a mode of transportation that I have had a fascination with since I was in diapers.


"Show me the Braniffs"
Topic Author
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Tue Jan 29, 2002 7:11 am

Well thanks; the posts were very insightful to me. It seems that "reg spotting" is not the pure form and photography is the real draw here. Some of these photo's I must admit are awe-inspiring.
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 7:51 am

Golf Rules!!! how can you guys not like golf?!??!
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 8:25 am

The Almighty wired some to be mesmerized by airliners
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 8:31 am

I have been working for an airline for almost 33 years and 26 of them at an airport.

I took my first photo of an aircraft in 1969, I was also collecting slides and photo of them.

It really got serious in 1977 and didn't stop since. Joe Pries mentioned earlier, people are collecting photos and sildes of aircraft. Many of us do exchange slides and photos with other collectors.

It is a hobby for me, it give me the chance to visit different regions of my country and other countries.


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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 8:47 am

My Dad used to like poking around airports when I was little and I guess it grew from there. I now work for a US major and have only met a handful of others who like to take pics! Most don't understand but what I find funny is that everyone thinks you are little off if you take pics of planes but if you take pics of flowers or nature you are an artist! There are alot of guys at work who like cars.........I HATE em!!!! Talk about a necessary evil! I don't care what 1960s Ford or Chevy you have! But I do respect their intrests! I also look back on all of the airlines that are gone(Piedmont, Ozark, Eastern, Pan Am, etc......) and wish I had a camera then. Whatever floats your boat!!!
CEOs should swim with cement flippers!
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 9:00 am

because i love it....ever since i could hold my head up and look into the skies i have loved flying...

when i was little and my parents were feeding me i would hold out my arms and make plane noises...

i've been taking photos for several years....and oftentimes our family vacations are planned around airport visits (as well as all that other stuff)  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

it's something that i've come to love....but i can't really imagine the 'pure' form of spotting..just writing down regs....i have to have a camera with me every time i go to the airport!!!

jonathan d.
"my soul is in the sky" - shakespeare
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 9:19 am

A loy of the posts on here have said that they dont collect reg nos. That i can equate to but surely you do it in some form to keep a note of what your pictures are? Otherwise its, that a 737 of BA thats a 737 of BA and another etc Oh thats a 737 of Air France thats another BA 737..
Joking aside, i take pictures of most forms of transport trains, buses, ships. and just take a quick note of the 5W's otherwise it would drive me crazy having 100 shots of the same damn item.
Now bird photos is different a robin is a robin is a robin, but if you could read the leg ring numbers.... well thats another ball game.
And each to his own, i find watching golf, syncronised swimming boring. Opera and classical music tedious, but i enjoy playing golf, and listening to snippets of the high brow stuff. i enjoy looking a model railway layouts, but am building a live steam loco. Its the bloody media that likes having a pop at anybody with a minority interest. I just wonder what relaxation they have in their lives?
CityBird MD-11
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 10:47 am

I can't believe it took so many posts until thomasphoto60 asked this cat what he likes to do with his spare time. Everyone has different interests and hobbies, that's what makes the world go 'round. I love to play golf and go birdwatching (sorry, Joe), I love playing and watching hockey and football (US), I also spend as much time as possible on a bass boat during the summer months and I certainly don't mind consuming an adult beverage now and then (all previously mentioned in this thread). I suppose this is a sore spot with me because it seems that alot of people feel the same way about those who shoot airplane pix, to which I ask them the same question "what is it that you do in your spare time?" Enough rambling about hobbies and such, though...

As far as a fascination with airliners, I love machines ... airplanes, race cars, trains, bla bla bla. Taking pictures of them is a hoot (although quite a bit tougher to do in the last few months). I suppose there's still lots of other good stuff out there to photograph.

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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 2:32 pm

Do any of you guys have relatives or parents who once did are are currently a part of aviation? (pilots/mechanics/Airport guys?)

Unfortuneatly I am the only one in my family with this new breed of hobby. I am severely limited when it comes to access like ramp tours or even a notice of any neat stuff arriving to my city.
In fact I have no sources as I rely on you guys in

Aviation photography was born when that guy took the first photos of the Wright Brothers plane at Kitty Hawk.
It is like listening to music the hushes and roars of engines, the swirls of air picking up admist its wake.
I get asked this exact sort of question by people at my school, girls and guys and even teachers.. I cannot put this into a straight form as the reason is so vast.
All I know is that The presence of airplanes has changed my life and it has yet to bring many positive fortunes in my lifetime. I'll be waiting for it..

starting with the G-8 summit.

Follow @kimbo_snaps on Instagram or bokimon- on Flickr to see more pics of me and my travels.
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Tue Jan 29, 2002 6:40 pm

Even though the topic has already seen many replies and different perspecitves have been pointed out, I myself never understood either all these photographers who are trying to have a whole fleet on film.

I loved airplanes ever since I was a small boy, my dad used to work for an airline and in the summer he took me out to the ramp and onboard the 747........

The love never diminshed it just became stronger over the years, ever since I got to Boston I simply combined these 2 hobbies....aviation and photography, but I am not a spotter per se.
But it is true what some people say, my dad used to work at an airline for 30 years and he can not understand my fascination for airplanes.

Btw....I do love tennis, one of my favorite sport!!!!

Vasco Garcia
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Wed Jan 30, 2002 2:40 am

I've been an avid fan of aviation ever since I was little - 2 or 3. I lived by Domodedovo airport in Moscow, and I saw all kinds of planes - from An-24 to IL-62 and 86. IL-62 was always my favorite, and I refused to go home and eat until I saw one. Then my dad took me to Domodedovo airport to see the mighty Tu-114. I guess I never recovered Big grin

Now, I spend my weekends by Runway 16 at Denver International, and I try to upload to No luck yet, but I will prevail  Smile
Money does not bring you happiness. But it's better to cry in your own private limo than on a cold bus stop.
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Wed Jan 30, 2002 3:59 am

I myself never understood either all these photographers who are trying to have a whole fleet on film.

Vasco...fleet shooting is definately not for everyone. It's sorta like any collection (stamps, coins, etc.) you need to get ever type/version. Not only do I fleet shoot but I also collect both sides of each aircraft. If they add a sticker or decal, forget it...need to shoot it again, left and right if possible  Smile

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Planes Are Amazing

Wed Jan 30, 2002 10:17 am

What more can I say ? Airplanes are certainly one of the "wonders" of this world. Look at the craftsmanship and technology that goes into the manufacture of these flying machines - amazing to say the least...

Add to this - an experienced pilot - nice background scenery - and a decent photographer - you now have a recorded moment of aviation.

I can't design, build or fly an aircraft. But like a few others out there - I like to capture a few images once in a while...

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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Wed Jan 30, 2002 5:46 pm

I'm a rego hunter/fleet collector/plane photographer/bird watcher/ I do it because I have a perfectionist tendency so everything has to be just right, and because I have a love of flight and get enjoyment from it.....simple as that..
Flown to 147 Airports in 62 Countries on 83 Operators and counting. Wanderlust is like Syphilis, once you have the itch it's too late for treatment.
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RE: Plane Spotting Why?

Thu Jan 31, 2002 12:55 am

For me it's not as much about keeping track of which registrations I have seen as it is about the composition of the shot. Even in taking 1000 or more pictures of the same aircraft, no two will be will be exactly the same. Each photo captures a frozen moment in time - the second before a plane touches down, a beautiful landscape or city's skyline in the background, a special temporary livery, or a plane soon to be retired.

I can't explain why I love airplanes - I always have. I guess in the same way that some people like sports or computers. Photography for me is just a natural extension of my interest in planes.

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