Plane watching


I am on spring break this week and I decided to make the short drive to my local airport KDAY today. I just figured I would sit and watch the arrivals and departures during the time I was there. After about 30 minutes I was about ready to start my car up when out of the corner of my eye I see an airport police car. He stopped and asked if I was watching planes. I said yes and he suggested another spot near the airport where I could watch. He said that someone in the tower asked him to talk to me. I happily complied and just went home.

I am wondering if this is common now a days to be approached by the authorities like this.


I’m not a spotter. Although, I have been known to sneak a peak or snap a picture when I’m at the airport for other reasons. Oh OK, I’ve put a few videos on YouTube too.

I’ve seen references on here of similar experiences to yours. So I think it’s becoming more common. I chat with some spotters on another forum and they’ve been getting more visits from the popo.

The question I have is who would you want hanging around? If an old VW truck pulled up and some guys with dirty pajamas and rocket launchers jumped out, wouldn’t you want a bunch of aviation nuts with big cameras, tri pods and any other make shift blunt instrument they can find hanging around?

In the UK they actually have a formal program where the spotters are trained to spot suspicious activity.


And how many times have you seen “Back to the Future?” 8)


Check out his You Tube videos!! Great fun flying videos. A couple of Horizon Dash 8s if I recall as well.

I have heard of the spotters being eyes and ears in other places as well. I think that is the perfect plan. They’re there, they’re going to find a way, even if it’s loitering in a parking lot at a fast food restaurant or something anyway. Airport ops and airport police can only be in so many places, and many times, with exception to MDW, the large airports are at least 10 miles around, so there’s a lot of fence to watch.
Its the same way with railroading, you’ve got people who not only LIKE getting stopped by trains, but actually stand on the side and wait for them. As vulnerable as railroad tracks are, welcome these people as those who can potentially stop someone from sabataging the operation or at least report it before something happens.


MY EXPERIENCE at the JFK Ramada hotel…


Depends on the airport and sometimes which cop is on duty, or whether he/she is having a bad day etc.

The ‘tower’ story is probably BS, the ATCOs are usually much too busy to be scanning the perimeter for ‘spotters’, and most wouldn’t care anyway.

KDAY does have a bit of a reputation fro zealous policing; maybe it’s just the one guy.


I’ve visited towers before and they’ve said they are supposed to be vigilant. They are always on the watch for activity along fence lines and around the airport property. This includes everything from people dumping stuff, cars trying to drive on the runway and wildlife running across the runways. They’ve told me of finding unbleiveable things on the runways in the mornings.

If you’re a pilot or student I suggest you make arrangements to visit your local tower. I’m always amazed by the view.


Hi Guys,
This is my maiden post, so here goes.

As a spotter I have seen the changes in security due to world events. It gets complicated as to what is and is not acceptable.

At Heathrow I have been moved on by security when spotting on the perimeter. The authorities shut down the ‘Queen’s Building’ roof, which was the official place to spot from. Everyone dispersed around the perimeter and onto public Green spaces. So the police have much more of a problem looking for spotters who are now dispersed around a wide area than they would have had if they were all in one place.
On the other hand my local field is Manchester (MAN/EGCC) where the powers that be have taken a ‘pro-active’ role where they have provided in association with the local spotting society a viewing area that is secure with a parking lot,raised mounds that are behind, but above fence level for decent photography, take away food, toilets, an aviation store where books,etc can be bought from. It is classed as one of the best spotting facilities here in the UK.
The Police at Manchester also realise that we as spotters have a role to play and ask that we report anything suspicious, as we know about airfield operations and are well equipped with note books, camera’s, binoculars and scopes and probably we as spotters are as well equipped for discrete surveillance than the Police are as we blend in, and there is also a telephone Hotline number to report anything that we consider suspicious.
If all airports/airfields took such a ‘pro-active’ approach security could be increased without cost and we would actually pay for spotting in a decent secure area.My gear wasn’t cheap ($1600 for camera Canon 350D/300mm lens and $400 for telescope, plus note books,etc)
Everyone wins: The Police are not chasing us around, so can concentrate on other things and the spotters are all in one place having fun in a safe environment.
But most of the time at other airfields/airports we are treated with what is basically contempt as potential terrorists which is totally wrong.If the authorities and the spotter’s could work out an overall plan that is worldwide and not just an individual airport policy we could have teamwork and resources that only the security services enjoy. We have a passion for airplanes, why would we wreck what we love to do and we would be the first to report anything suspicious that would have a deterimental effect on our hobby.

I realise this is more of a novel than a note.