Aircraft Spotting

We have already talked about aviation and aircraft photography and what an amazing hobby it can be, but it turns out aircraft spotting is quite a popular pastime around the world as well! There are many reasons that this remains a popular hobby for a lot of people: it gets them outdoors, gives people the ability analyze, observe and track, and allows “people to collect without creating clutter”, gives people the opportunity to break out some of their fanciest camera equipment, and allows them an opportunity to meet many other likeminded people out there. Here are some valuable pieces of information related to the spotting of aircraft:

What is aircraft spotting?- Aircraft spotting is defined as “the observation and logging of the registration numbers of aircraft: gliders, powered aircraft, balloons, airships, helicopters, and microlights”.

Let’s get the hobby started-One of the first things you should do is to determine what type of aircraft you would like to spot and track. While many enthusiasts track airplanes, there are many different flying objects that you can track including helicopters, balloons, airships, and microlights. What you track can be dependent on where you live. If you live in a part of the world with a lot of air traffic, you may want to narrow the list of aircrafts you will be looking for. If you live in a more desolate area, you might want to include a wider range of crafts.

Find out what is involved-While you can certainly go out and look for flying objects in any way you choose, there are certain steps that many enthusiasts follows when they go out looking for aircraft. Some of these steps include noting the type of plane (based of size, shape, color, etc), where the plane is registered, noting the placement of wings, the speed, where the cockpit is located, and the landing and take off patterns of the plane, among other things.
Go online-There are many online resources which allow enthusiasts to track the location and statistics of different aircrafts.
Remember that the devil is in the details-It can be very difficult to identify a plane from far away. The best way to gain skill and expertise in doing so is to spend a lot of time around airports, observing the different airplanes and learning about their specifications and intricacies. Some of the details that help one identify planes include the number of engines in the aircraft, and the different between a long-haul aircraft and a med-um/short-haul aircraft. Other details you might want to keep an eye out for include wing shape, shape of the cockpit windows, tail position, number of doors, landing gear, and “the position of the horizontal stabilizer near the tail”.


Remember the Do’s-Along with details of the specifics of aircraft hobbies, there are also some suggested dos and don’ts to follow while you are out on the prowl looking for the planes or other flying objects. What should you do while you are out exploring your new hobby? Always be polite and respectful, be vigilant of possible suspicious activity, bring identification with you in case you ever stopped by a security guard or other authoritative figure, bring a camera, bring a notebook, check the weather, be patient, and do take a buddy! Buddies always make adventures more fun!
Don’t forget the don’ts-Some of the things you should absolutely not do while plane spotting include: do not break the law, don’t get yourself arrested (obey no trespassing signs, please), don’t use a flash and don’t forget to put on your sunscreen! It’s really easy to get a burn out there.

While it might sound boring to some, plane spotting is an incredibly popular past time around the world! Plane spotting also often goes hand and hand with those who enjoy taking aircraft photography as a hobby, though these are two separate activities. I hope this list has given you a little bit more insight to the sport and perhaps you are thinking that plane spotting is the new hobby for you! If you think you are interested, please know that there are plenty more resources available!