Plane Spotting – A Great Hobby for Aviation Enthusiasts

March 26, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Aircraft Spotting (also known as Plane Spotting) is a hobby that unites aviation enthusiasts from all over the world. Aircraft spotters enjoy the observation and photography of a wide variety of aircraft, including fixed wing airplanes, helicopters, gliders, microlights, airships and large balloons. Aircraft spotting generally includes keeping a log of what has been spotted, where it was seen and the date and time of the sighting, as well as any other observations, such as the engine sounds and number of vapor trails the aircraft leaves.

The key attributes of an aircraft are noted by observers in an effort to identify it. They may assess the size of the airplane, the number, as well as the type and position of engines and the positioning and angle of the wings relative to the fuselage. Another important factor is the position of the tail-plane and its fins, as well as the shape of the fins. Antique and light aircraft often have a tail wheel and this will also be noted, as well as whether the aircraft has retractable wheels or a fixed undercarriage. Other features which help in identification are the cockpit placement, color scheme and any additional equipment that alters the silhouette of the airplane, as well as any markings, airline logo, national insignia, squadron badge and code letters. The information gathered during an aircraft spotting session will assist the observer to identify the aircraft by consulting published manuals and consulting with fellow aircraft spotters. Observers may travel to different airports, visit aviation museums and attend air shows in pursuit of their hobby. Some aircraft spotters set themselves goals, such as spotting all the airplanes of a military or civil operator.

Aircraft spotters need to be aware, however, that taking photographs or even making written notes of their observations may not be permitted at some air shows and even at some airports, especially if military aircraft are present. This has become more of a sensitive issue with the increase in terrorist attacks and there have been some isolated cases of aircraft spotters running into trouble with the law. In the United Kingdom a code of conduct has been drawn up as a joint effort between hobby organizations and authorities to allow enthusiasts to continue enjoying their hobby, while at the same time acting as additional national security by contacting police if they observe anything suspicious. This type of mutual agreement may also be established in other countries where this hobby is popular.

While the average citizen may pay no attention to an airplane flying overhead, you can be sure that to an aircraft spotting enthusiast, that aircraft is very interesting indeed.

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