On Saturday June 22nd, I spent the entire day down at JFK for what I am calling "Solstice Spotting." Over the course of the 14 hour day that I spent down there, I realized some of the things that I love the most about planespotting. For me, it is about more than just the airplanes, it is also about the people I interact with and the places I go..
One of the biggest things that I love about planespotting are the people. I really enjoy spending time spotting with others, both those I know and those I've never met. On Saturday I had the pleasure of spending most of the day spotting with a couple from Boston and a gentleman from New Hampshire whom I had never met before, in addition to several regulars from the New York area that I have come to know. We all share at least one thing in common: a love of things flying through the air. Having other people there helps when the traffic slows down for a while and our attention can switch from photography to chatting about planes and spotting techniques. There's always something to learn from those around you when spotting in a group.
Another thing that I love about spotting is that it is a great way to spend a nice day outside. We started out at a ballfield along a major city street where we spent a few hours in the early morning. Towards mid-morning we headed over to our main spot for the day, Bayswater Point State Park where the water was just a few feet away. While not a picturesque sandy beach by any means, the atmosphere there just can't be beat. Later, we headed over to the top of the Terminal 5 Garage to take shots of a special that was coming in and the smell of Jet A exhaust wafted over us. This was a totally different experience from being on the water to be sure, but it was equally enjoyable. Finally, we headed over to the place we call The Mounds and relaxed in the shade on a grassy field for the last few hours of the day. There is something about being able to spend a whole day outdoors doing something enjoyable that just cannot be beat.
The last joy of planespotting that I want to mention is one that I just discovered for myself: the joy of turning somebody new on to the hobby. While we were out there spotting on Saturday, a group of 3 boys came up to us to see what we were doing. They had plenty of questions, and we had plenty of answers for them. These kids seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing and were eager to hear what we had to say. They even borrowed the binoculars that a couple of the other spotters had with them to get a closer look for themselves. All too often, members of the public that we encounter think that we shouldn't be doing what we are doing or even think that planespotting is a crime. It was very refreshing to see that there are some who find it interesting and didn't have a problem with us for a change. Hopefully we will see them again some day.
All photos courtesy of Maggie Bradley.