Update that number to 17,355 and increasing
I would also like to add that aviation photography and spotting is not something that is new. Spotters and aviation photographers have been around since at least WWII. People have been sitting around airports for decades taking photos and tracking registration numbers. But because of "one day" in history our hobby is now labelled as suspicious.
Eric, you are absolutely right. I believe that is exactly how many of us feel about this hobby. I love going out and using my camera and I enjoy aviation as well. Both of them together make for a great combination. Just the thought of being out on a nice sunny day relaxing with the great friends that I have made on this forum with the chance of capturing something that will one day be a great part of history is very satisfying to me. I wish i had been alive a decade sooner so that i could have had the chance to catch some of the most beautiful pieces of aviation ever built.
So what it comes down to is that some people relax by walking around for 4 hours chasing a little white ball or cruising around the bay in a boat with their gold digging girlfriend. We get our jollies by capturing giant floating marvels of modern engineering on camera.
I don't know why I or any of you guys got so worked up over that one post. Anyone who is an expert at FS10, played from their race car bed cannot dictate to anyone what their recreational activities should be. I shall return to dreaming of Sherpas.
I am wunaladreamin and I approve of this message.
And because we are around airports, in public areas...you know...with other people around, some terrorist is going to exploit plane spotters? If so, we better stop the fishermen at Bayswater, because a terrorist could pose as a fisherman. Or better yet - he could pose as a shopper at one of the many surrounding businesses, so lets close down all the stores within a 5 mile radius. It would be too easy for a terrorist to stop on one of the perimeter roadways and pull out a weapon, so I guess a nice challenge would be to sit there "all day with weapons", just so he can pretend to be a plane spotter.
Phil gets a free pass because he "clearly has been able to make a living of his hobby"? I truly don't mean this post to in any way offend you - this is just the opinion of someone on the other side of the galaxy.
Yes, there is no actual RISK in spotting. I do LIKE the fact that people call the police over what they find suspicious. This particular case is a REAL oddball, and it is literally one in a thousand spotting visits that result in something like this. So again, no big issues. Whoever reported this spotter seemingly was paranoid beyond reason to where they were not pleased enough that the police checked them out and that the spotter left, but still had to elevate it even more afterward. A bit excessive.
As for the hobby, there's nothing WRONG with it, and I think the opinion given by arealairlinepilot is a bit harsh in that respect. You don't need to understand it, but just know that it's safe, legal and enjoyable for many hundreds of thousands around the world. We are a group of people who SUPPORT an industry usually so much on the defensive from the flying and residential public, that our interest should be majorly applauded and supported.
I would also like to emphasize that, though this site has become an LLC, it does no support my life and I do not pay myself. Me, Matt and many staffers are VOLUNTEER, spending many hours at home, INSTEAD OF SPOTTING, trying to do what we can to promote the hobby and to even deal with situations like the above. Maybe one day I'll be able to quit my job and do it full time so that I can do more things for the hobby, but I don't like that assumption. Aside from the many hours I work on the site, I have a full-time job working for an airline and I do side work as well to make ends meet.
Please excuse the tangent and let's get back to the topic at hand. Again, great job, Kaz!
Areaairlinepilot- I am in no way offended by your post. Hopefully you can see that the vast majority of us understand that people have become very suspicious of our hobby(love), and that we take that very seriously and try to respond with as much measured reaction as possible, while also trying to educate people as to the actual value of our presence. This group is but one cog in the big piece of machinery that is aviation enthusiasts. That's why there are things like airshows, and the Newark Airline Collectibles Show on Saturday Sept 10th at the Ramada Inn from 9am to whenever.
I personally could care less about talking to the police, FBI, NSA, FBI, FAA, DHS, NASA, the UN, whatever. They can come at me and flash whatever credentials they want. But as long as I live in this country, they will never get me to stop taking pictures of planes. Only when the icy grip of Death's bony fingers pry my hand from my shutter button will I stop. I don't bitch at the people who insist on exercising their right to watch midget porno(because I consider that closer to terrorism than watching planes), so I expect the same freedom to do what I want.
Life is short people. Enjoy that 747 you're looking at, because it could be your last.
I'm just now seeing this and I'm going to add some input to this, as the same thing happened to me one time...
April 2009 - I'm out on this beach along the Delaware River, directly across from the Philadelphia Navy Yard, testing out my new video camera (at the time) filming aircraft coming into PHL's Runway 27R. This is on the NEW JERSEY SIDE of the river and I was with another friend of mine (Andrew, who most of you know). Nothing happened, I got a lot of good video, Andrew got some great photos, and we went our ways, looking forward to airshow season starting the following week or so.
Fast forward to sometime in September 2009. I come home from work to find out two guys from the United States Department of Homeland Security's TSA stopped by. They were Special Agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force and one left his card and his number. I got on the phone with him, and we had a professional and absolutely friendly twenty minute chat, with him emphasizing that I did nothing wrong, that someone called in my license plate (and not Andrew's - I don't know why) and reported me as suspicious, he did not label me as a suspicious person, and basically asked me that since I have his card, to keep it with me when I go out spotting and to give him a call anytime I see anything I deem as suspicious. Believe me, I was SHOCKED to hear this. I took it a step further and asked, since he works in Southern NJ, if I can call him if I see something in locations like JFK, IAD, even LAX, and he said yes and that he would make sure the respective agents in the area knew.
My whole issue is why did they wait five months to investigate and talk to me? Either way, the outcome was great.
As I said in the original post this was never meant to offend anyone and never in my post did I say what you were doing was somehow abnormal. I understand that this is your hobby, no different than the guy that can recite every stat of the 69' Mets. The fact is however what you are doing is raising eyebrows of the general public and flight crews alike. I know personally my airline, the airline most of you probably take pictures of daily some of you may ever work here, has specifically briefed its flight crews to report anyone photographing aircraft in the vicinity of the airports. You are absolutely correct what you are doing is not illegal but it is suspicious. Some of you argue that you are somehow helpful to law enforcement but in all honesty the joint terrorism task force would be much better off dealing with serious problems than having to check on a bunch of kids with cameras at the airport. The fact is however as long as you are there their attention will be drawn to you and not the serious tasks at hand, it will be that way because concerned citizens and pilots will continue to report such activity. That being said I don't think you should stop doing what you love, if thats the way you want to spend your time off so be it but don't be surprised when the cops are knocking on your doors wanting to see what you are doing because the people turning you in are probably the vary people you are taking pictures of and not because we think anything bad of you but because it is what we are told should be done.
Last edited by arealairlinepilot; 07-12-2011 at 08:57 PM.
I have to step in and say you're pretty ignorant if you think we're "kids". Most of us are adults, and are made up of people who are lawyers, police officers, federal agents, and some are the very people that are sent out to visit us.
Stop saying you mean no offense and then saying something that is obviously offensive.
You should also know that there are programs already in place here in the US where local law enforcement and airport management actually team up with enthusiasts to help keep the airports safe. It's a shame if you don't see the potential of people who can spot possible terror attack planning, airfield threats (like FOD) and even local petty crime that happens around the airport.
I am also saddened to hear of the ignorance of your company, telling you to report anyone taking photos. If people are suspicious, fine, but such RULES are another sign of ignorance.
I would like to again emphasize that no one here is complaining that police show up....you continue to assume that. We even welcome it, and we work with the police, most of whom know who we are already, to make people calm. Again, the case mentioned in this thread is an extreme rarity in where the people that reported the enthusiast in question were going to be worried whether the cops showed up or not. What we're trying to accomplish in this discussion is to spread awareness of these and to keep people ready and reminded to be kind and cooperative when these situations arise. It's about progress.
For someone who thinks we're all just a bunch of kids, you sure had no problem registering to hang out here. I don't have to call Chris Hansen, do I? :-p