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Old 30th June 2009, 01:42   #1
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Smile Aero-Blog : Plane-Spotting, Airports, Cops....!!

We are a part of Team-BHP because of our love for cars. We love driving them and can keep ogling at them all day long. In the last couple of years, I have developed liking for a new kind of hobby. It is known as Plane-Spotting. This is a little write-up of my experience on the airports with aircrafts, friends and last but no the least, cops.

Plane-Spotting mostly involves watching planes, taking pictures, hearing the ATC Tower radio (here in the United States, you are allowed to hear that on a radio scanner), tracking flights and so on. Aviation-nuts gather at places near the airport and sit together watching planes and photographing them for hours. To be frank, I never knew about any such hobby when I was in India, maybe because I had absolutely no interest in anything other than cars. I came to the United States of America with absolutely no knowledge about aircrafts. I hardly knew any aircrafts other than the Boeing 747 because of its body profile and 4 engines. The other reason being the fact that every toy shop I ever visited as a child had a model of the Jumbo Jet. I wonder how much Boeing paid every toy company to make each and every toy plane in the world, a 747 . My first international flight was from Mumbai to Los Angeles in a Air India – Boeing 747-400. It carried the name, “Fatehpur Sikri”. This was the first time I ever came close to such a large aircraft. Still, it did not touch my heart to fall in love with aircrafts or anything related to them.

The Beginning of Love…
Downtown San Jose is a small urban city with its airport right in the heart. Aircrafts on their finals would go by my window. A “Final”, is usually regarded as approximately the last mile or two that the aircraft descents and lines up for the runway before touchdown. San Jose International airport is busy in regards to domestic air traffic but the only international flights it gets are from Hawaii and Mexico. Seeing them land and take-off from my window was the start of my liking for aircrafts. I would go on the internet to search what that particular aircraft was that flew by my window. Later on, I started recognizing them by their shape. I still had hard time differentiating an Airbus from a Boeing. This was not for long though. I wanted to know more about them. I started reading about aircrafts in books, forums. As time passed by, unknowingly I myself got deeply into the hobby of Plane-Spotting. I was skeptical to visit the airport just for watching planes because of the high-security level and wanted to avoid any speculations that might come up if I was seen there for no good reason. I still went on. I made some good friends with people who had the fascination of watching planes, just like I did. I learnt a lot of things from these people. I never knew that every aircraft has its own registration numbers just like the license plate on cars. I learnt how to minutely observe details and identify aircrafts and airlines. I started hearing the ATC Tower for fun. (Nerd!). I started taking pictures. I became a proper Plane-Spotter!!!!

Journey continues…
My love for photography was a boon for this hobby as I started photographing aircrafts. Today, I visit San Jose International Airport, San Francisco International Airport on a regular basis to photograph aircrafts. We, a group of aviation enthusiasts, plan our visits, especially when we know that there will be an interesting aircraft coming to the airport. For example, Northwest Airlines sent a Boeing 747-400 to San Jose International Airport sometime back as a military charter. San Jose International Airport does not get heavy planes, thus making the arrival of this jumbo, a rare one. The biggest aircrafts, we get at San Jose are the Airbus A300s, DC-10 / MD-11s, Boeing 767s. It was a great time with 10-15 photographers shooting the NWA 747 together. I go once or twice a month to San Francisco International Airport to photograph aircrafts from Europe and Asia.

Cops in the Picture…
Couple of months back, I was photographing planes at the San Jose International Airport when a Police interceptor Ford Crown Victoria pulled up along side. I was stunned for a moment but calmed down thinking that there is nothing wrong with what I am doing. The cop stepped out of his car,

Cop: Hi, we were reported suspicious behavior at the airport from you. Why are you with a camera?
Me: Aaaa, I like to photograph aircrafts and cars.
Cop: What is your name, Where are you from?
Me: Nishant Deshpande, from downtown San Jose.
Cop: Can I see you drivers license?
(I handed it over to him)
Cop on his Radio: Delta Eagle Charle Bravo……!!!!
Cop: What do you do?
Me: I study Mechanical Engineering at SJSU.
Cop: Can you show the pictures you just took to my fellow officer?
Me: Sure!
Cop on the Radio: Tango….Copy that, Code for.
Me: Am I doing anything objectionable here?
Cop: No sir. But it is our job to check any suspicious activity near or at the airport.
(He handed over my drivers license back to me)
Cop: Thank you sir, you are clear to go.
Me: So I can do what I was doing?
Cop: Yes, you can continue photographing.
Me: Thank you! Phew!

What the cop did was look at my background and history. It was clear. So no other questions were asked. Many plane-spotters get pissed off on cops interrupting their time. But, I think its fair on our part as citizens to co-operate with the cops as they are just doing their job. The cops are always on their toes, especially after 9/11 and most of the observation decks at the airports have been shut for the public. The one thing I have learnt from this experience is that if you talk nicely, calmly with the cops, there should be no problem. What goes around comes around.

Why I love Aircrafts…

Just like cars, aircrafts have their own importance. They made man travel thousands of miles in matter of hours. Man is on the moon because of aircrafts. The overall length of the Boeing 747 is nearly equal to the length of mans first flight just a century ago. The reason why I love photographing aircrafts is because there is something exquisite about them. They fly half the globe before touching the ground which makes them one of the best inventions made by man. Though cars will always remain my first love, aircrafts are not far behind! It has been a great journey so far and I have enjoyed every bit of it and plan to do so always.

I am posting some of my photographs taken at different airports. Enjoy!
Thank You for reading!

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Virgin Atlantic Airways - Boeing 747-4Q8

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United Parcel Service - Boeing 757-24APF

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Northwest Airlines - Boeing 747-400 (military charter to San Jose, CA)

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KLM - Royal Dutch Airlines - Boeing 747-406

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Lufthansa - Airbus A340-642

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Southwest Airlines - Boeing 737-7H4

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Air Transport International - ATI - McDonnell Douglas DC-8-73(F) (This aircraft was built back in 1969. She is still running smoothly)

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Horizon Air - De Havilland Canada DHC-8-401Q Dash 8

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Federal Express - McDonnell Douglas MD-11F

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Japan Airlines - Boeing 777-300ER & Southwest Airlines - Boeing 737

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Cathay Pacific and United Airlines - Boeing 747-400

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Air China - Boeing 747-400 passes by the moon

PS: My condolences to the families of all who lost their lives in the recent Air France disaster.

Last edited by Stratos : 30th June 2009 at 11:21.
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Old 30th June 2009, 02:00   #2
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Got a nice different hobby you got there,i would like to know what is the biggest plane in the world.nice picture.

Last edited by BAKIYA_2K12 : 30th June 2009 at 02:03.
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Old 30th June 2009, 02:02   #3
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Excellent pics. Esp. liked the one with the Japan Airlines - Boeing 777-300ER & Southwest Airlines - Boeing 737.
And a good lesson on handling the cops - if you're not upto anything, you have nothing to fear. I have found that this attitude works with our maamus and thullas too.
Hope you have more pics to post.
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Old 30th June 2009, 07:36   #4
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Originally Posted by Stratos View Post
....... What goes around comes around. ...

sounds very justin timberlakish.. . nice pix mate. I do recollect seeing another thread having pix of flights. you may want to look it up.
Nevertheless, keep up the good work.
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Old 30th June 2009, 10:38   #5
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Excellent collection of plane pics. I particularly like the B747s (by looks I mean, cant comment much about under the hood stuffs).
Unique collection in TBHP, must say. Keep them coming.

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Old 30th June 2009, 10:42   #6
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nice write up stratos.great pice too.love the last one with the contrails.

A “Final”, is usually regarded as approximately the last mile or two that the aircraft descents and lines up for the runway before touchdown.
final isnt necessary the last mile or two.it could extend as far out as 10 NM as well.its basically the path when the aircraft is in line with the "extended" centre line of the runway.
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Old 30th June 2009, 10:48   #7
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amazing pics, I really loved the theme. And the last one is the best of the lot
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Old 30th June 2009, 11:14   #8
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I will add a few more pictures here.....

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United Parcel Service - Airbus A300F4-622R

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Southwest Airlines - Boeing 737-7H4

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Singapore Airlines - 777-300ER

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Cathay Pacific - Boeing 747-400

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Bombardier BD-700-1A10

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Air China - Boeing 747-400

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Boeing 747 contrail
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Old 30th June 2009, 11:30   #9
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great pics Nishant! You may visit youtube and see the missed approached of Boeing 747's, go arounds, wind sheer, takeoffs, landings etc beautifully captured on the video. Apart from 747, there are video's of scores of other aircrafts including military planes in youtube.
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Old 30th June 2009, 11:30   #10
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Very nice pics of the flying machines! Keep them coming!

Air India is missing
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Old 30th June 2009, 11:34   #11
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Originally Posted by finneyp View Post
Very nice pics of the flying machines! Keep them coming!

Air India is missing
Thanks, and Yes! Air India is missing :( I do plan to photograph them on my next trip to India. The reason I do not have Air India is because they do not fly to San Francisco. Jet Airways did for a while but shut off. On a personal note, I would love to take pictures of the Air India 747s and 777s. They carry a very beautiful paint scheme.
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Old 30th June 2009, 11:44   #12
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Hey stratos, (Nishant)

Check out the following link, this will help you in your hobby. This has a complete database on the tail numbers

AIRFRAMES.ORG - Aircraft Database

excellent pictures

Last edited by Stratos : 30th June 2009 at 11:47.
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Old 30th June 2009, 11:52   #13
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nice pics there stratos .. pretty good angles .The color scheme of different carrier is unique & interesting . I liked the cathay & united airline 747-400 the best .. hope to see some pics of military aircrafts aswell .
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Old 30th June 2009, 12:09   #14
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Military you ask, Military you get! I totally forgot to upload these. :P These are from the Watsonville Airshow, CA

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Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

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Boeing C-17 Globemaster III

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AV-8B Harrier
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AV-8B Harrier displaying its Vertical Take-off / Landing and Hovering ability.

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AV-8B Harrier
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Old 30th June 2009, 12:49   #15
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wow amazing pics, wanted to be a pilot, couldnt happen, but dont mind ogling at planes.

am subscribed to this thread, will be here daily for pics and updated.

Very good pictures, nice photography skill, What is the camera you are using ?
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