Many of Wingly’s Austrian, German and Swiss pilots will remember Johann, our former DACH pilot manager. But only a small handful know about his very special hobby, plane spotting! We set out to discover more about this interesting pastime and turned to Johann to enlighten us his plane spotting passion.
The plane spotting network
For Johann, it all started as a young child. A single trip to Airbus’ Hamburg Finkenwerder plant was all it took to ignite his passion for aircraft. From then on he started to collect magazines and aircraft models before turning to photograph aircraft at his local airport. Soon, he was part of a large network of plane spotters sharing their photographs and latest sightings from airfields and airports all over Germany! Today, technology allows them to communicate with ease, doing so via Facebook or WhatsApp groups which prevents them from missing an unmissable movement.
What exactly is plane spotting?
The hobby of plane spotting can involve logging aircraft registrations or photographing aircraft (or a combination of both). Many enthusiasts also collect information about airports, track aircraft across the world on flight tracking apps and, where possible, listen in to air traffic control communications thanks to online websites. Online plane spotting communities often provide vital information regarding interesting movements. For example, Johann received a tip-off that a rather special plane would fly to Düsseldorf. To get to Düsseldorf Airport in time for this catch, Johann and three other spotters set off at 0600, their early start rewarded by the opportunity to spot this extraordinary Iron Maiden-liveried Boeing 747-400 operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic, TF-AAK.
Preparation is everything
Before you start with the plane spotting, there are some things you need to consider. On Spotterguide.net you will not only find information about spotter locations, but also over 300 guides with detailed descriptions and regular updates from airports all over the world. To prevent any sort of misunderstanding, you must always pay attention to the rules of each country and ask in advance what is allowed and what is not allowed. Unfortunately, plane spotting is not universally understood and there have been a number of arrests of spotters. For example, to take pictures at one of Paris’ airports, all spotters need to acquire a free permit to do so from the local police authority which remains valid for two years.
Insider tips for plane spotters
As a plane spotter you should definitely make a note of the following pages:
The last questions for Johann
- What does a pro-plane spotter require?
A ladder for optimal visibility, sunscreen in summer, a spare batteries and memory cards, water and lots of patience!
- What do you personally look out for as a plane spotter?
Airliners, in particular I seek out rare types, unusual visitors and those aircraft in special paint schemes. In addition, when travelling, the scheduled equipment type is crucial – I always try to fly on unusual aircraft!
- Where did you go on your last spotting trip?
I went to the UK and visited a military airshow to the west of London. Whilst this was a great show and allowed for some superb photo opportunities, I would love to take part in air-to-air photography. This is commonly done by all sorts of aircraft and involves photographing one aircraft from another. That would be my absolute dream!
- In terms of aircraft, what has been your spotting highlight?
Seeing Concorde up close of course! It is the first and only passenger plane ever to fly at supersonic speed, taking only three hours to travel across the Atlantic from London and Paris to New York. I once had the opportunity to take photos from inside one of these formidable types. It is a truly incredible aircraft and an aviation pioneer.
After finding out more about Johann’s fascinating plane spotting hobby, we have now become curious and will have to try it out ourselves! Are you a plane spotter? If so, then feel free to comment on this post and connect with other plane spotters. In addition, there are plenty of Wingly flights that allow for some superb opportunities to sample rare aircraft or see airfields and airports from a new perspective. Wingly wishes you happy spotting!