...let me cut to the [chase] literally. So after catching the Lufthansa A380 LH0401 taking off yesterday from HoBe, I decided to go back to Panera and meet up with Eric and finish my day shooting arrivals.
Everyone kind of took off with Mark going home, I think Jose also went home, Malcom went back to NE and Kaz joined me... he followed me out, we went the usual route down Cross Bay to the Belt, to the Nassau Exp etc.
I was cooking a bit... not crazy but definitely faster than most. As I passed by Evergreen, slightly after the FedEx area on the Nassau Exp, the speed limit drops to 40MPH (on an Interstate, but I digress) I got clipped by a laser-wielding NYC Highway Patrol in an Unmarked Ford Crown Vic LTD.
He steps in front of the center lane traffic and holds all lanes, points at me and asks me to pull up behind him. I quickly comply of course.
"Sixty Six on a Forty" he immediately shows me on the back of the gun... and I of course say, good afternoon officer, if you and your LASER say so...
"license and regi please" I already had it out and handed it over. He sees my "small" lens on the pax seat and starts to inquire (verbatim)
PO: "What is that a camera?"
Me: "Yes sir"
PO: "What is it for?"
Me: "Taking Pictures"
PO: "Of what?"
PO: "Really? Where are you coming from...?"
Me: "Uh, well, we call it Howard Beach but it is rea..."
PO: "Where are you going now?"
ME: ...lly Jamaica Bay Wildlife... uh, I was headed to Panera Bread but now I may end up at what we call "The Mounds" but I don;t know the exact address"
(I saw from my position that the pattern had changed to the 22s)
now comes what is beginning the standard response to our hobby lately????
PO: "Aren't you worried with what's going on these days?"
(and my usual response)
Me: "What [is] going on these days?"
PO: "Why do you take pictures of planes?"
Me: "For enjoying them and for hobby, much like some go Golfing" I smile
PO: Grins with a puzzled look at me and says hang on.
he walks to his RMP and begins to write me up I assume. I then see him on his cell phone. 10 minutes pass, he asks me to move in front of him so I comply.
BTW the whole time he is chatting with me, I have my scanner tuned to tower, approach, ground and departure, piped through my car's speakers, pretty loud... I did not want to NOT do anything I wouldn't normally do so as not to look suspicious at all.
30 minutes pass. By this time I am starting to guess that he called in the FBI (seriously, I know too much about the way NYPD operates (long story)) and that is common practice. I also figured the officer thought he may have a good story for his boss later...
Sure enough, I was wrong about the FBI but never guessed about PAPD!! LOL, an PAPD marked RMP rolls up next to the NYPD plain with cherries on (he is in traffic lanes)
They speak for about 5 minutes all while I took a nap btw, I only opened my eyes when they rolled out of their cars.
Up next to me comes the PAPD driver, NYPD PO and on my pax window the PAPD shotgun.
PAPD PO: "Good afternoon Mr. Gonzalez"
Me: "Good afternoon officer, good tour so far?"
PAPD PO: "Yes thanks, so you're taking pictures of the planes?
PAPD PO: "...like on the ground?"
Me: "Well, no of course not, we are not allowed and it is pretty hard to do so at JFK with so many obstructions from public places"
PAPD PO: "no because sometimes over by the old hospital, some folks... so, up in the air? How can you? Is it possible? Aren't they too far?
Me: "Well, did you not see my lens?"
Me: "actually very doable"
NYPD PO: "and what do you do with them?"
at this point I already had my business cards out and handed them over as the officer from NYPD further added...
NYPD PO: "you don't post them on The Internet do you?"
Me: "Why of course!! I have my own websites devoted to it, there are entire websites and communities devoted to it and actually most airports around the country and the world actually support and even encourage the hobby by building facilities for spotting.
NYPD PO: "what? really?"
totally puzzled, the PAPD officer quickly looks at the NYPD officer and just nods his head yes, indeed, confirming what I say.
Now the conversation quickly shifts to my radio and the chatter
PAPD PO: "Is that a [Police] Scanner?"
Me: "No. It is a regular scanner. It is tuned to all the airport aviation frequencies. Please, check it out"
I took it off the audio and handed it to him... he quickly nodded no no no, not necessary
PAPD PO: "Nah, I recognize all the frequencies"
Looking at each other, the officers were sure I did not pose a credible threat and the PAPD officer motioned to the NYPD officer that all is cool, I was handed my License, Regi and a neatly folded tag for speeding! :-(
I had hoped given my great story and all the cool info on the hobby I would get a break!
All and all, I knew it would be cool. I was actually happy about having yet another PO educated a bit more about our great and safe hobby.
I left and went down to The Mounds and finished off the day with a few more frames!
Oh yeah, Kaz should have been the OBVIOUS choice to stop with his sports car... not me with my family brute!