Aviation enthusiasts airport watch groups


    ORD watcher
    Aviation enthusiasts and airports watch groups


    US Spotting Guides

    Bruce's Planespotting Guide

    MSP Airport Watch Program
    Aviation enthusiasts who frequent airport perimeter areas can easily be viewed as suspicious persons. We respect that our airports must be safe and secure from criminal elements. Aviation enthusiasts, often referred to as "Spotters", have a vast knowledge of day to day activities at the airport and can often recognize if something or someone is out of sort.
    With this is mind the MSP Airport Police, is looking into starting a MSP Airport Watch much like the well known Neighborhood Watch program. A dedicated volunteer group of aviation enthusiasts who can Observe, Record, and Report any suspicious activity to authorities while we participate in our favorite past time of photographing and watching airplanes.
    MSP Airport Watch will provides a line of communication between airport authorities and enthusiasts allowing both sides to discuss each others concerns and create a safe and organized environment.
    If you would like to be part of this program,email your name and contact information to :
    The Airport Watch program is well established in Canada. Members have photo ID cards and are vetted by the local police forces. The YYZ group has over 100 members and gets the opportunity to go on aviation related tours - such as visits to CFB Trenton and Bombardier, Downsview for example, as well as various GTAA facilities.
    MSP Spotters.net
    Join the MSP Airport Watch Program!
    Join the MSP Airport Watch Program!
    By Matt Miles on Nov 21, 2009 with Comments 2
    The MSP Airport Watch program officially launched in January, 2009 and is currently looking to recruit new members to continue growing.
    MSP Airport Watch operates much like many neighborhood watch programs but is custom tailored to the MSP Airport community. Owned and operated by the MSP Airport Police Department, the MSP Airport Watch offers a unique take on airport perimeter security in that while people from all walks of life can act as an extra set of eyes and ears for airport security authorities while enjoying their time at the airport.
    So whether you like to take photos, spend time at the dog park, observe airport operations, walk, run, bike or picnic at or near MSP airport, you can be of great service to the aviation security community at your airport.
    This is a win-win for both the aviation concerned public and all aviation security entities that operate at MSP. As a member, you will have a direct line of communication with the MSP Airport Police dispatch center and you will be issued a polo-shirt, hat, dashboard placard and I.D. card. There is no time commitment other than a monthly meeting and all that is asked of you is to observe, record and report suspicious activity in and around the airport. You can continue to enjoy your aviation related hobbies, knowing that you are providing an invaluable service to airport law enforcement officials at the same time. You may even discover some areas of the airport that you could not access as a non-member of Airport Watch!
    ORD Airport Watch Program
    I stopped one day at Aviation world store (as official spotting location) at York/Foster at west side of O'Hare and I was asked by sales person to participate ORD airport warch program that is managed by Bensenville police department and airport security.
    I'm plane spotter so it will be nice to be in community with other aviation enthusiasts. That sales person said after filled a form there will be background check on everyone and everyone who will pass it will receive a badge with photo and car sticker. All members will be recognizable for police patrols arround the airport so it will be for us , spotters , good thing. He said we will be additional pair of eyes for airport security. As I know now there is about 40 peoples signed in. This year will be free of charge , but in future (next year ) it will be annual fee (10 bucks) that will cover costs of badges and sticker.
    So all Chicago O'Hare planespotters and aviation fans - come to Aviation World and join the program!
    BTW I was always envy that EPKKspotters and other spotting groups on the world are official and cooperating with airport security.
    Airport Watch Program
    Airport Watch Program
    In April 2010, the Village of Bensenville’s Police Department with its Crime Prevention Unit developed the first Airport Watch Program in Illinois. The main focus is the Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD). This crime prevention initiative is composed of people who have an interest in various aspects of aviation and who spend time in the vicinity of the O’Hare Airport to observe the various airport operations.
    Some members also combine their aviation "spotting" activities with their photography hobby to produce very interesting photos, some of which are found on various internet sites dedicated to aviation topics. The Bensenville’s Airport Watch Program members also assist on occasion at various area events related to aviation in surrounding airports. From time to time, the Watch enjoys familiarization tours of aviation facilities primarily at the O’Hare Airport.
    At the same time, Airport Watch volunteers provide the same sort of security as the Neighborhood Watch Program. Members monitor aviation procedures, the condition of the fencing, wildlife activity, parking lots, suspicious behaviors and flying debris (FOD) while they enjoy their favorite pastime.
    They are simply an extra pair of eyes and ears outside the perimeter fence. Their task is to "Observe, Record and Report". In 2009, Airport Watch in Ottawa (Canada) logged in over 3800 surveillance hours. In Bensenville these members have ample opportunity to park on the streets of the industrial parks and at the same time spot suspicious activity in these areas. By reporting suspicious activity, the Village of Bensenville is able to take a proactive approach against crime and criminal’s opportunity to commit crime in Bensenville is reduced.
    The Bensenville Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit manages the membership along with a board of directors and committee members. Some of the members are law enforcement, military people (active and retired), major airline employees, Fortune 500 employees and managers, and residents of different parts of the state of Illinois. Members get crime alerts and are able to activate as volunteers in case of a major aviation disaster.
    The Bensenville’s Airport Watch welcomes like minded aviation enthusiasts to its membership. This member’s only club requires among other things a criminal background check, so it is not open just for anyone. The information is shared with other surrounding municipalities and airport security corporations including Federal interests.
    If you are interested in learning more, you can email Officer Joel Vargas at [email protected] or call 630-350-3455.
    Airport Watch Program
    Airport Watch Program
    Crime Prevention Programs at Ottawa International Airport
    When you travel near any major airport in the world, you can usually find a group of aircraft enthusiasts, known as "Airport Spotters." These Airport Spotters photograph and log the different aircraft, which come and go as a hobby.
    In 1999, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Ottawa Police Service and the Ottawa International Airport teamed up to recruit the Airport Spotters in and around the Airport to form an Airport Watch. As these volunteers were already a fixture along the perimeter fence, and were familiar with the normal activities of an airport, they were enthusiastic about working with law enforcement to ensure security of the facility.
    These volunteers are encouraged by police to immediately report any suspicious activities to the Airport's Security Operations Centre. The police are then dispatched to investigate. These volunteers closely follow their motto, "Observe, Record, Report." They never take direct action.
    The program in Ottawa has been so successful, that airports in Halifax, Vancouver and Toronto have begun similar programs.
    ORD (Chicago) Airport Watch Chapter Making Progress
    YYZ Airport Watch
    Ottawa Airport Watch
    Calgary Airport Watch
    Aircraft Enthusiasts Group of WA
    BHX Airport Watch
    Birmingham Aviation Enthusiasts Group
    Big Brother is watching and listening....


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    ORD watcher
    The Planespotters: Meet the Geeks Who Stalk America's Airports
    At any given time, at almost any airport in the world, you can find a small group of strangers intently observing—and rapidly photographing—the comings and goings. In fact, if you’re reading this in an airplane, they may be looking at you.
    By Dan Koeppel
    April 28, 2008 12:00 AM

    The picnic area at Imperial Hill rises above the south side of Los Angeles International Airport. A few passersby sip coffee from a doughnut shop a block away, but the majority of the people here—about eight of them—are leaning on a rail, aiming cameras at a pair of active runways 200 yards distant. As a windowless 747 lumbers into the air, someone calls: "There's a KLM cargo." Shutters click. Two minutes later, the process repeats with another plane and a new identification.

    For the past couple of years, Billy Yeung has been coming here two or three days a week. A software architect in his early 30s, he usually spends a few hours methodically scanning and shooting. I ask him what equipment he uses, and he's about to answer when he swivels: There's something interesting on the tarmac. From cabin door to tail, the plane looks like an ordinary passenger jet. But its nose juts sharply forward, conveying less Boeing or Airbus than great blue heron.

    "That's Voodoo One," Yeung says. He shoots, talks, then shoots again. Raytheon, the defense contractor, has offices next to the airport. The modified Boeing 727 has sensors hidden in the elongated forward cone; it is the company's private test unit.

    I think the plane is cool-looking, but Yeung is blasé. He's shot the aircraft before. What he's really after is a Qatar Airways A340 that arrived a few days ago and has been tucked behind a hangar at the airport ever since. The presence of the craft is peculiar. The Middle Eastern flag carrier has announced first-time service to the United States, but only to New York City, and flights aren't due to start for another two months. That makes seeing the airliner a prize, for both the small crowd here at Imperial Hill and for the global community of like-minded enthusiasts who call themselves planespotters.

    Wherever there's a picnic area, parking lot or berm with a clear view of an airstrip, chances are someone's standing there with a camera pointed in its direction. As long as local police accept them as quirky hobbyists, not potential terrorists, planespotters are free to haunt aviation centers, from tiny outposts in Alaska to the huge British hub in Manchester. Los Angeles's LAX, the world's fifth busiest passenger airport, is a hot locale. About 100 observers frequent it, as well as airports in Long Beach, Burbank, Orange County and Ontario, Calif.

    Though the origins of planespotting are murky, most people agree that it began with Britain's Royal Observer Corps, which trained civilians to identify and report aircraft during World War II. Like trainspotters, who avidly track the movements of train engines and other rolling stock, planespotters these days collect and trade observations with thousands of their peers. They also share the traits of an even larger and arguably more zealous community: bird-watchers. My father is a "Big Lister" in the vernacular of birders, meaning he's seen more than 7000 of the world's 9500 or so avian species. Over his lifetime he's meticulously recorded every one, crossing the globe in the pursuit of rare finds. When I met my first planespotter, I felt an immediate flash of recognition.

    Maybe it's in my genes, but I've got a bit of the spotting bug myself. My job puts me on the road six months a year, and finding a way to pass the time in departure lounges and cramped cabins can be a challenge. I've watched planes take off from the observation deck at Tokyo's Haneda and peeked at military jets aligned on a far runway in Caracas, Venezuela. On one trip to Mexico, I reached into the seat-back pocket of a freshly painted Aero California plane and pulled out an airsickness bag with a Continental Airlines logo. I asked the flight attendant about it. She shrugged. Maybe it was a mix-up in provisioning. Though I didn't realize it at the time, I had encountered the kind of mystery planespotters love.

    All planespotters belong to the same genus, but their behaviors divide them into different species. Some spotters want to see every plane at a particular airport. Others, known as fleeters, focus on a single manufacturer, type of plane or airline. One of the most popular variations is to collect liveries (paint schemes, to ordinary fliers). Southwest has three Boeing 737s that look like Seaworld's Shamu the killer whale; bagging the trio is a big deal.

    Even a single aircraft can provide a basis for obsession. A plane's history can span multiple airlines, continents, paint schemes and eras. But to access it, some decoding is required. Every commercial aircraft in the world carries two alphanumeric identifiers. The first, usually painted in large characters on the tail, wing or body, is the registration number. (On U.S. aircraft, it starts with an N.) The second, too small to be seen from afar, is the manufacturer-issued serial number. By plugging the registration number into a database, a planespotter can match it to the serial, which is then indexed by airline, aircraft and dates of service and manufacture.

    "It isn't enough to see a plane just once," Yeung says. "You're always looking for the perfect shot, the right angle, the right moment." As a result, spotters amass a deep reservoir of photos, which they post at Web sites such as jetphotos.net. The online destination hosts one of the largest collections of aircraft images in the world: more than a million, with contributions from more than 7800 photographers.

    Mark Abbott, an engineer from Denver, has posted nearly 10,000 images. He also keeps a detailed personal Web site, where he records every flight he's ever taken (552) and the airlines he's flown (46). "I pretty much travel in order to see planes, and the other stuff I do comes second," Abbott says. He notes mileage, registration numbers and ticket prices, along with miscellaneous trivia: Flying from Denver to Los Angeles in 2001, Abbott sat next to Pat Boone.

    Even small-scale shooters can gain fame online with the right image. That's why, on a Thursday afternoon at Imperial Hill, Yeung is looking for the Qatar. If he's first to snap this out-of-place plane, he's guaranteed a large audience. He ultimately gets the photos, but decides that they are too overcast to post. The perfect shot is an elusive thing.

    Not long after I start visiting LAX, I encounter the most rarefied form of spotter: someone who works inside the airport. Dale Elhardt helps maintain the airport's electronic systems—from Doppler radar to telephones—and he's spent much of his life trying to get into the Federal Aviation Administration tower where he now works. On the ground floor of the 19-story structure are five display cases of model aircraft that Elhardt built by hand. In this job, he says, "I can get close enough to what I'm building to use it as a reference."

    Elhardt leads me into an elevator, and we rise to the tower's 16th floor. There are no offices or cubicles here, just machinery and a wide doorway leading to an antenna platform. We step outside and I almost lose my breath. Night has fallen over LAX, and in the eastern sky I can see the lights of dozens of aircraft strung out in formation, waiting to descend over the crowded, eight-lane Century Boulevard and land on the north and south runways on either side of the tower. Every 2 minutes, the queue advances; the distant, flashing lights become 747s and MD-11s, corp*orate jets and cargo planes as they roar in beside us. Elhardt has been watching this carefully orchestrated choreography for years, and it never fails to excite him.

    "This is what I'm here for," he says.

    A security-obsessed world has made spotting more difficult. The most notorious clash occurred in 2001, when a dozen English enthusiasts were arrested outside a Greek air force base. The group was jailed for 37 days, then convicted of espionage and related charges. The spotters were acquitted on appeal, though even their own defense attorney seemed at a loss to explain why a person would spend a vacation penciling aircraft registration numbers into a bound book. "We are lucky in Greece," he told the court. "We do not have this hobby. Here, we have the sun."

    In the United States, many airports have closed their observation decks. Even on public streets, spotters sometimes receive what they regard as misguided police attention. When I first met Yeung, I asked him for the most important rule of planespotting: "Don't get arrested," he joked. There's no question that taking pictures in a public place is legal. But if you do it at airports, says a spokesman for the El Segundo police department, which has jurisdiction over Imperial Hill, "You need to be prepared for a little interaction."

    Most planespotters see themselves as security assets. Michael Carter and other California-based spotters were instrumental in helping authorities catch thieves burglarizing cars in the Long Beach airport parking lot. This isn't quite the same as nabbing a terrorist, but it is evidence that spotters, Carter says, "know what should and shouldn't be there. We're about the most detail-oriented people you could find at the airport." Eyewitness information provided by planespotters has been used to track rogue aircraft and even locate planes believed to have been used by drug dealers. One positive ID that spotters would love to make is Boeing 727 N844AA, which disappeared from a runway in Angola on May 25, 2003. The last known photo of the craft had been taken by a planespotter in Miami 16 months earlier, as a Florida-based firm prepared to sell the jet to an African carrier.

    Spotters are also well-positioned to capture close calls on film. This past March, a planespotter in Germany filmed an Airbus A320 skittering sideways across a runway after encountering strong crosswinds; it grazed the ground with a wing before taking to the air again. The video appeared on YouTube and quickly caused controversy. Some described the pilot as a hero, but others said the recovery—while nearly miraculous—was necessitated by poor airmanship. The footage will help German officials make that determination as they investigate the incident.

    After a week of watching spotters spot, I'm ready to delve into my own aviation mystery. I'm thinking about that Continental bag in the Aero California seat pocket. The airline flew mostly DC-9s, a spotters' favorite with beautiful, sleek lines; many from the 1960s are still flying.

    By searching the Jetphotos database, I learned that Aero California had a total of 34 DC-9s. But only six members of the fleet came directly from Continental. What's more, there was a good chance the plane I flew was no longer in the air. After being shut down for safety violations in 2006, the airline returned with a much-reduced fleet. As it turned out, that made finding Aero California planes easier. Last June, a spotter posted a photo of 11 jets, arrayed not on tarmacs but on hard-packed sand.

    The airplane graveyard at Mojave regional airport, an hour north of Los Angeles, is hallowed spotter ground. One Saturday afternoon I park on the shoulder of a nearby highway and walk through sage and creosote to a chain-link fence. On the other side, dozens of aircraft sit wing-to-wing in the unrelenting heat of the desert. The logos on the DC-9s have been painted over, but it isn't hard to recognize Aero California's former fleet: The carrier's signature livery—stripes of brown, red, orange and yellow—are visible on every tail. So are the registration numbers. I stare through my binoculars: XA-CSL, XA-AGS, XA-LMM, XA-RXG. They match the serial numbers I've brought with me as reference—I've found four Continental purchases.

    I hoped to see at least one; I am sad to see so many. As I drive home, I am surprised at the strength of my emotions. Watching planes is a game. But it is also romance. These aircraft travel the world, carrying thousands of people, for thousands of reasons, to thousands of places. Sitting in the desert, they evoke those voyages, and with them nostalgia, even melancholy. But when they're active, taking to the air, with images of them captured and observations shared, they promise: The journey continues.



    ORD watcher
    O'Hare Spotting


    On the map above there are 6 marked spotting places around ORD. These spots provide a good view of incoming/outgoing traffic and also ramp areas. For almost every shot will be between 25mm-120mm. These spots provide a legal and mostly hassle free.

    Spot #1-This is the best known spot to every photographer that visits ORD regularly. Directions-Exit normally from I-94 or I-294 to the terminals. Then turn to South Mannheim Road. You should pass the Airborne Express cargo area. You will then see 3 buildings (Chicago Aeronautical Board) Just park in front of those buildings on the parking lots and your there. Planes will scream right over the fence onto runway 27L. This runway is used for arrivals mostly, good for international traffic.

    Spot #2-Mobil/McDonalds Oasis. Drive along and then just exit off of I-294 onto the Oasis which is directly overhead the interstate, its pretty hard to miss it. This is runway 22R usually used by United and American Airlines.

    Spot #3. Bensenville area. Exit off of I-294 onto Irving Park Road which will take you around the southern ORD perimeter. Then take North York Road north around the airports western perimeter. Drive northwards and you should go past the cargo areas where UPS freighters always stand. Keep on going north into Bensenville. Then as your driving look to your right. You should see 14R approaches/departures. If not, turn around go by the UPS/FedEx/Lufthansa cargo area and spot 14L traffic.

    Spot #4-Cargo Area. Same directions as Spot 3. There are 2 cargo areas. The USPS/BA World Cargo area (right off Mannheim road and I-294) and the Lufthansa/UPS/FedEx/Emery cargo area which is accessible by North York road. You should find them easily as the buildings have huge airline logos and insignia. There are usually freighters parked by them also.

    Spot #5-AA Cargo Double Runway+Terminal spot. Drive to the AA Cargo area. Its one of the first buildings in the main cargo district. Turn off to the actual buildings. There should be a road right by the buildings....drive to the end of the building complex. There is a nice view of Terminal 2,3 and Int'l T5 ramp. 32L and 4R traffic is visible.

    Spot #6-Turn off of I-294 or I-90 into one of the many hotels that you see, There are also big office buildings. Exit to a McDonald's there or a hotel. You can adjust however you want. Guide yourself by where the aircraft are flying. Nice place to spot 777s and 767s.

    These directions seem to be puzzling, but refer to the map below or take out a map of Chicago and look around O'Hare to where these spots are. There is no guarantee that there will be aircraft traffic at all of these spots. But i guarantee that there will be traffic at at least 2 spots on this map unless FAA shuts down the airspace. Move around of course around these places to a position that you like. And if you find a good spot or want to submit a spot email me at [email protected]
    O'Hare Spotting 2
    List of Illinois Airports
    Chicago Department of Aviation

    Spotting in O'Hare Int'l Airport (ORD)
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    How to take a Photograph out of a Plane Window
    by Darren Rowse

    Here’s a quick set of tips for those of us lucky enough to be taking a trip in a plane and wanting to get the classic ‘out of the window shot’ that often is featured early in a travel photo album.


    Image by mbshane

    One common mistake that people make with taking this shots is to put their camera’s lens right up against the glass of the plane window in the hope that it will help cut down on reflections and in the hope that it will steady their shot.
    While it might help a little with reflections it generally does anything but steady the shot and will often usually increase camera shake’ due to the vibrations of the plane.
    A better strategy, if you’re using a DSLR with a fitted lens, is to attach a lens hood to your lens and get in as close as you can to the window without actually touching it.

    Alternatively, use your free hand to cup around the lens as much as you can to shield it from reflections.
    Of course for high quality aerial shots you’ll want to shoot out an open window from an appropriate altitude – but then most of us are not in that league so the window seat on an airliner is our best option.


    Photo by Tim Caynes

    Here are five more tips that come to mind on photographing out a plane’s window:

    1. Switch to Manual Focus

    Quite often cameras get confused when shooting through glass (and on most planes its two or three scratched and marked sheets of glass). Switching to manual focussing mode and locking your focus on your main focal point can help a lot.

    2. Shoot early in the Flight
    Windows tend to ice up or get condensation on them once you’ve been flying for a longer period of time. Shoot early when you’re window is clearer and your shots will be better for it.


    Photography by betta design

    3. Be ready for the Plane Banking
    It is difficult from an airliner to take shots of the ground (due to window size and the angles that are possible through them) but opportunities do present themselves for such shots on the few occasions that the plan banks before landing and after take off. The key is to be ready and to shoot fast as these moments don’t last long.

    4. Turn off your Flash
    For starters it’ll have no impact on your shot (its not strong enough to have an impact beyond a few meters) and secondly it’ll just cause reflections against the window.


    Image by igorms

    5. Look for points of Interest
    Sometimes the scenes out of plane windows seem quite spectacular to the eye but when you look at your photos they can be a little empty and un-inspirational. Look for a point of interest to bring your shot to life. It might be the wing or engine of the plane, it could be a cloud formation, another plane, a coastline, a change in the landscape below or a setting sun etc. It could even be something inside the plane.


    Photo by Bill Liao

    Since publishing this post we’ve put together an eBook specifically on Travel photography called Transcending Travel: a Guide to Captivating Travel Photography.


    ORD watcher
    Airside with Airport Watch at ORD
    report by Andy Cline


    On May 21, 2011 the recently formed ORD Airport Watch was treated to an exclusive airside tour of O’Hare International Airport. Thanks to the efforts of the Chicago Police Airport Law Enforcement Section Commander Tom Argenbright (photo #4) and City of Chicago Department of Aviation Chief Safety and Security Officer Richard Edgeworth, (photo # 6) 28 members of the fledgling volunteer group and a handful of special guests were taken by bus past the fenceline for a well-received opportunity to see the airport from the business side. The tour allowed members to photograph aircraft in action on the ramp, and from a number of vantage points beside taxiways to capture aircraft rotating and touching down at close range. (photo #1) The participating members of the group were ecstatic. Most had never been airside apart from aboard an aircraft, and were able to see the activities from the middle of the airport and carry out their hobby without fences in the way at one of America’s busiest airports, which was unimaginable just a year ago. Despite marginal weather, the tour was a photographer’s dream. Dramatic shots of aircraft departing on wet runways and creating clouds of vapour led to some stunning images. After almost 2 hours the tour came to an end with the result of many smiles from ear to ear and full memory cards. It cemented the bond between the group and it’s official partners.

    The day started with a regular ORD Airport Watch meeting hosted by The Village of Bensenville at the town hall council chamber. Officer Joel Vargas of the Bensenville Police Department opened the meeting with his Airport Watch and crime prevention update and introduced the day’s speakers. (photo #2) ORD AW Board member Rich Carlson, (photo # 3) also of the Winnetka Police Department, carried out an informative briefing on the group’s interactions with the Police and security personell, which included personal and legal rights, procedures and group rules and regulations about approved spotting locations. Procedures for events such as state visits were also detailed.

    Tom Argenbright (photo #4) spoke next and was happy to inform the membership about the afternoon tour, and announced that it would be hopefully be the first of many. He invited the group to participate in other forthcoming airport events such as the charity plane pull, and the intent to launch a sister group at Midway Airport, also policed by the Chicago Police Department Airport Division. The department will also host the ORD AW’s new website which will provide an excellent outlet for information on the group and it’s activities. Tom introduced two of his most dedicated employees, Officer Art Munoz and his dog Troy, an explosives sniffing German Shepherd. (photo #5) Art explained role of the dog handler and the bond between the animal and the handler, essentially family. The handler goes to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas where he is partnered with his TSA-bred animal and they train for 3 months. The animal is trained to detect 14 types of explosives. Troy, named after a 911 victim, as is policy for TSA-bred animals, barked enthusiastically whenever the crowd applauded. Dog’s are the TSA’s best tool and are far more sensitive than the latest sniffing machine technology.

    Next on the roster was Phil Haffron, ORD Manager of Bomb Appraisal, Department of Homeland Security / Transportation Security Administration, who put on a detailed presentation on Man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) shoulder launched missiles. (photo#7) He detailed the most common Russian and American types with excellent footage, and demonstrated an actual example of a Russian KBM Kolomna 9K32 Strela-2 shoulder-launched missile system, or in NATO terms, SA-7B Grail. He explained that such a weapon could be used against an airliner in a similar location where a photographer would locate himself for aircraft photography, with a good field of view, on the approach or near the end of a runway.

    These briefings are a standard part of ORD Airport Watch’s regular training, and provide valuable insight as what the group should be conscious of while carrying out their hobby around Chicago’s Airports. The group has almost 90 members, after just over a year, an amazing start to America’s second Airport Watch group, which will likely be the largest.

    Joel then introduced myself, Andy Cline, YYZ Airport Watch Administrator, and graciously thanked me and the originators of the program in Canada for providing the inspiration for the program at ORD. I provided the closing presentation with a brief history of Aviation World, and the story behind the Airport Watch program in Canada, and of the Minneapolis-St.Paul program, the first in the States. I followed with a briefing and slide show on the G8-G20 Summit in Toronto in the summer of 2010. It dovetailed nicely with Rich Carlson’s presentation which detailed Presidential visits which occur frequently in Chicago as President Obama’s home town. ORD Airport Watch president Ian Hardie (photo #8) added a few points of local business and thanked the guest speakers and adjourned the meeting.

    The group then proceeded to have a quick lunch and proceeded to the ORD Security building where we embarked on an airport bus and the airside tour. All told, the trip was excellent and provided a great opportunity to meet and liase with not only a number of the ORD officials I have corresponded with, but many of the members. Truly the program has taken off, and been adapted to suit the group’s unique situation. Things they have developed at the request of the FBI and other partnered agencies are hologram ID cards with personal details and information on the reverse, as well as reminders about how to respond to and report incidents. ORD Airport Watch members are provided with day-glow lanyards and badge holders in order to display their ID while on duty. Their main piece of apparel that is required to be worn is a day-glo safety vest with ORD Airport Watch stenciled on the back. It has had an unintended bonus deterrent effect of fast drivers on roads approaching members slow down when they see them. These excellent ideas could easily be adapted to other groups.

    Thanks to Len, Steve and Gary Neath at Aviation World for covering my airfare, and Richard and Lora Yowell from Aviation World ORD for accommodating me, and their hard work to set up and arrange food and drinks at the meeting. Aviation World has been instrumental in helping the Toronto and Chicago Airport Watch programs start and grow.


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    ORD watcher
    The In-N-Out of ‘Plane Spotting’
    June 29, 2012
    By Martha's Whirled News
    What is “Plane Spotting”?

    Explained by by Matt Tonks and 19 others at WikiHow.com

    Aircraft spotting, also known as plane spotting, is a popular pastime worldwide. As a hobby, it brings a number of enjoyable elements for the participant, including getting outdoors, making meticulous observations, “collecting” without creating clutter, having a good excuse to use your really fancy digital camera equipment, and finding a great way to get together with like-minded enthusiasts. The activity itself is generally free, although if you join a club, and buy all the related goodies, there may be some costs involved.

    Aircraft spotters have an eye for detail, and are keen to find out as much as possible about aircraft. For example, it was spotters who worked out that in its 18 years of operation, the 757 fleet has flown the equivalent of nearly 25,000 round trips between the Earth and the Moon! If you’re keen about planes, flying, facts, and you remain constantly amazed by the ingenuity of human ability at getting a great tin bird up into the sky, aircraft spotting may just be the perfect hobby for you!

    Your guide to Plane Spotting, How to Be an Aircraft Spotter at WikiHow.com

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/29/travel/plane-spotting-destinations/index.html?eref=rss_topstories Plane spotters seek
    'Wayne's World' thrills
    By Thom Patterson, CNN
    updated 10:34 AM EDT, Fri June 29, 2012

    (CNN) -- Plane spotters sometimes talk about grabbing a "Wayne's World" moment.

    If you've seen the 1992 movie, you may remember when Mike Myers as Wayne and Dana Carvey as Garth are parked near an airport runway. They're reclining on the hood of a funky AMC Pacer, discussing "Babe-raham Lincoln," when suddenly a huge airliner swoops by just a few feet overhead.

    That's when they begin screaming above the airplane's deafening roar.

    Phil Derner admits it. "I've done that. There are so many times when I just want to ... lay down near the approach lights and watch the planes go overhead and just take it in."

    He's talking about plane spotting. Beginning around the mid-20th century, countless plane spotters have been trotting the globe to view and photograph the world's most impressive aircraft.


    "Some people like cars," said Derner. "But we like something that's bigger and faster, and it freaking flies."

    Derner, who created the plane spotting site NYCAviation.com in 2003, said the hobby is growing more popular as more people are lured in by the magic of flying machines.

    Think about it, said Derner, "Something that weighs up to a million pounds is taking to the air, and you know the next time it comes down is going to be on the other side of the world. I think that's fascinating."

    "It's a passion that keeps me sane," said Chicago-based spotter Kevin Koske.

    Read this plane spotting how-to.

    Intrigued? We've listed some tips and suggested vantage points below. But first, let's talk about what's arguably the most famous plane spotting destination on the planet: Maho Beach on the tiny Caribbean island of St. Maarten.

    You may have seen Maho in unbelievable interweb photos showing giant airliners flying just a few dozen feet above the beach.

    These photos went viral years ago, and no, they aren't Photoshopped. They're real.

    "If you like airplanes, Maho is like the cherry on top" of a beautiful beach vacation, said Justin Schlechter, a 747 pilot who's visited Maho several times. For Koske, Maho is the "mecca of airplane spotting."

    The beach sits at one end of a short runway at Princess Juliana International Airport.

    The short runway forces approaching planes to come in low, about 30 to 50 feet over the beach.

    Larger planes need to touchdown as close as possible to the end of the runway because they need as much runway as they can get.

    As a result, plane spotters get one of the world's closest public views of giant airliners as they take off and land.

    "It's a lot closer than you can get at a typical airport, in the States especially," said Schlechter. Read more about Schlechter's trips to Maho.

    There's a bar on the beach, the Sunset Bar & Grill, where customers cheer with each flyover. "They go crazy," said Dianne Carbon, an employee there.

    "People literally try to see if they can touch the planes," she said. "In our office, when they're taking off or coming in, it's almost like it was an earthquake."

    But paradise for plane spotters also has its dangers.

    When airliners prepare for take off and rev their engines, daredevils will stand against the airport fence and hold on. The jet blast is powerful enough to throw people off the fence and onto the ground.

    Spotters say their hobby is more than a celebration of aviation. It's about fully recognizing the majesty of machines that give us the super power to defy gravity.

    And, perhaps surprisingly, it's also about camaraderie.

    Yes, that is correct. Plane spotting at popular vantage points comes with a social bonus. "When you have a group of 20 people with a lot of different personalities and people from all walks of life, it's a very diverse group, and we have a great time," said Derner.

    Some plane spotters will even hook up on occasion, Derner said, because obviously there's nothing more romantic than a roaring Airbus A380 blotting out the moon and lighting up the night sky.

    Derner said he met his girlfirend, his "Babe-raham Lincoln" if you will, a year and a half ago when she responded to his tweets about plane spotting. Oh yeah, and she's a pilot.

    Koske, who's a Chicago radio host when he's not chasing aircraft, made a long anticipated journey to Los Angeles last September to visit Imperial Hill, the primo vantage point for spotters at LAX. "To finally go out there and spend four days spotting, sun up to sun down, was just great."

    What's on his bucket list? Amsterdam, a spotter-friendly airport with aircraft rarely seen in the United States.

    Excellent, as Wayne might say.

    You told us: Top 5 spots for plane geeks


    As promised, here are a few plane spotting tips shared by Derner, Koske and aviation enthusiast Rob Mark at Jetwhine.com:

    1. In general, stay off airport grounds. Airport security for obvious reasons can be very sensitive about curious strangers wandering the property with expensive photo gear. Worst case: you could be arrested and your equipment could be confiscated. Best case: you could be politely asked to leave. Some airports such as Amsterdam and Frankfurt offer public observation areas.

    2. "Always carry ID and wear a smile," said Derner. Police patrolling areas around the airport may question you. Most of the time, they're OK with plane spotting activities. But sometimes they're not. Rule of thumb: be nice.

    3. Some of the best spots are located in parking lots of private businesses. If asked by an employee, you must leave.

    Where planes go to die


    This isn't a ranking list or obviously a comprehensive list, but here are a few good plane spotting sites:

    1. Eagle County Airport, Colorado: The Costco parking lot at 170 Cooley Mesa Road, Gypsum, Colorado

    2. O'Hare International Airport, Chicago: southeast of the airport at the USG Building parking lot near Mannheim Road and Lawrence Avenue

    3. LaGuardia Airport, New York: Landing Lights Park, south of the airport off 25th Avenue between 78th and 79th streets; Planeview Park south of the airport on 23rd Avenue next to Vaughn College

    4. John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York: southeast of the airport in the parking lot near Bay Boulevard and Rockaway Turnpike

    5. Los Angeles International Airport: Imperial Hill, south of the airport near Imperial Avenue and Sheldon Street; In-n-Out Burger, northeast of the airport near West 92nd Street and South Sepulveda Boulevard

    6. Manchester Airport, England: south of the airport off Altrincham Road, according to plane-mad.com

    7. Frankfurt, Germany, airport observation deck: Terminal 2, Concourse E next to McDonald's

    8. Amsterdam Schiphol airport Panorama Terrace: between Arrival Halls 1 and 2 and via Arrival Hall 3

    9. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport: Gravelly Point Park, Arlington, Virginia, north of the airport off George Washington Memorial Parkway

    The place where dead airplanes come back to life


    One more thing: if you find yourself booking airline day trips to spot planes in nearby cities, well, clearly you're hooked.

    Derner admits to hopping flights from New York to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport's unique gawking spot built on a landfill. It's called Gravelly Point Park. Watch a cool YouTube video.

    What's so special? Planes zoom as low as 100 feet above your head as they aim for the runway about 400 feet from the park. Aside from its amazing proximity to the aircraft, Gravelly Point rocks because it's within walking distance of the airport terminal.

    "You don't have to rent a car," said Derner. "Just walk over, watch planes and then just fly home."

    One final tip for newby plane spotters, and it's a direct quote from that scene in "Wayne's World:" Like Wayne says as the airliner passes overhead, "Keep looking up!"

    These people really love to fly


    ORD watcher
    Welcome to SpottersWiki: The Ultimate Airport Spotting Guide.

    This site provides a guide to locations for viewing, spotting, and photographing aircraft at airports worldwide.
    Sign up FREE and contribute! Or Login with OpenID and your Google, Yahoo, or AOL account.
    You can add, edit and correct info on this site. Make sure your local airport is updated!

    To find an airport, use the search box at the upper right corner of the page or select a continent below:

    [+] Africa
    [+] Asia
    [+] Central America and Caribbean
    [+] Europe
    [+] Middle East
    [+] North America
    [+] Oceania
    [+] South America


    One New Canon Camera a Winner, the Other Not so Much

    Canon has made some of the great cameras of our time. The new EOS M isn't one of them. The $800 EOS M is a rare miss from a company that dominates digital photography, consistently ranking No. 1 in market share year after year.
    But Canon's EOS 6D, a full-frame digital SLR, is terrific and a great addition for any Canon photographer.

    First up, the M. It is Canon's answer to similar high-end compact cameras from Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and Samsung. It's a small, so-called mirrorless camera that's sharper than a point-and-shoot and easier to tote than a large digital SLR.
    The M, released in late 2012 and just now made available for review, is slightly larger than Canon's popular PowerShot line of point-and-shoot cameras, and easily fits into a pocket.

    Mirrorless technology allows companies to combine the interchangeable lens capability of DSLRs with the compact size of a high-end point-and-shoot camera. With a $200 adapter, you can use other Canon lenses with the 18-megapixel EOS M.
    The M has a touch-screen-based menu and few buttons, which could be confusing for a photographer looking for options. But that's not the biggest issue. The problem is the ultra-slow auto-focus system.
    Turn the camera on, and the camera struggles to find the focus point. The M is a camera you'll never want to use for sports or anything that requires speedy response -- a child on a swing, say, or a school play
    But it gets worse.
    When you go into video mode and press record, the camera goes in and out of focus as it continues trying to locate the focus point. I shot several videos, and none stayed in focus.

    I put the camera on the ground at a mall and got footage of the feet that came trampling by; atop a garbage can for steadiness and focused on a bush directly in front of us. I even placed it on a rock at a national park, to get video of a flowing river.
    All three shots are first in focus, then out, then back in focus, as the lens wheel goes round and round.

    The compact mirrorless camera market is growing rapidly, and Canon has been late to the party. There are terrific, and less expensive, models available from Panasonic, Olympus, Sony and Samsung. For Canon, it's time to go back to the drawing board and come up with an improved and fully functional M.

    Meanwhile, Canon has another new camera out, and this one happens to be terrific.

    The $2,100 EOS 6D, also released at the end of 2012, is a full-frame digital SLR, which means richer colors and crisper photos, thanks to the larger image sensor. It has 95% of the features of its bigger brother, the $3,500 5D Mark III. If you're looking at the 5D but can't afford the extra change, the 6D is a great purchase.

    Canon changed the world of digital video with the release of the 5D Mark II in 2009, a full-frame camera with a sensor 20 times the size of that found in video cameras. Filmmakers and video enthusiasts embraced it, and it started being used on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Saturday Night Live, House and others. The Mark III, came out in early 2012, and was substantially improved, with longer video recording time (29.9 minutes, vs. 12) and improved focusing.
    Now, Canon has the full-frame 6D, which looks like a slightly smaller version of the 5D Mark III, but for $1,400 less. What's different?

    Focusing points. The 6D has 11 focus points. The Mark III has 61 -- that's 61 areas from which to choose, from the middle to bottom left and bottom right and everywhere else you might prefer.
    Headphone jack. The Mark III has it; the 6D doesn't.

    Storage cards. The 6D can only use an SD card. The Mark III takes Compact Flash and SD cards.
    Resolution.: 20 megapixels for the 6D; 24 for the 5D Mark III.

    Wi-Fi and GPS. The 6D has a Wi-Fi feature -- with a Canon app -- that lets you ship photos directly from the camera. However, you have to turn it off if you're in video mode.
    Otherwise, the camera is slightly smaller, the controls are virtually identical, and the battery is the same as the Mark III. Many will find it a great backup camera.


    ORD watcher
    #Avgeeks: The new warriors on terror
    By Thom Patterson, CNN
    updated 11:56 AM EDT, Tue June 4, 2013

    Chicago (CNN) -- They watch the skies.

    From fence lines, parking lots and roadsides -- they're looking up. They've staked out their favorite watch-spots around Chicago O'Hare International Airport and given them funny-sounding names like USG and The Beeline.

    It's unlikely you'll ever meet any of these para-police officers, wearing their bright orange vests and ID tags. But if you're one of the millions of travelers who fly into Chicago every year, you might want to thank them -- because they're helping the FBI, Transportation Security Administration and other authorities protect you from terrorists.

    In the Windy City, they call themselves ORD Airport Watch, and we found them on a sunny day in May, gathered next to a parking lot atop a little mound of greenery nicknamed the Grassy Knoll.

    Taking their name from ORD -- O'Hare's international airport code -- they're a diverse group of fiercely independent personalities who share a deep passion for airplanes. To put it simply: These folks are obsessed with photographing, tracking and documenting the movement of aircraft. That's what makes them plane spotters.

    By paying attention to aircraft tail numbers, landing and takeoff conditions and other details, spotters are natural allies for police.

    In no time at all we meet an ex-British navy war vet, a former IT director for Donald Trump's now defunct shuttle, a former "Jeopardy" game show contestant, and a Bulgarian who isn't afraid to point his camera at a Russian air force base.

    One hundred sixty-two of these citizen sentinels volunteered about 5,000 total hours last year helping to guard O'Hare, one of the busiest airports on the planet. Under police supervision, they undergo background checks and special training. But instead of Glocks or Smith & Wessons, these guys prefer to strap on Canons or Nikons.

    For years -- especially after 9/11 -- police and plane spotters at airports around the world have been at odds. Police would find themselves wasting time tracking "pesky" plane spotters to make sure they weren't terrorists. And spotters would waste time trying to keep one step ahead of the "pesky" police.

    Related: Plane spotters travel the world for aviation thrills

    But programs like these aim to turn the police-plane spotter relationship into a mutually beneficial partnership. Minneapolis launched one of the nation's first such programs in 2008, with just 10 volunteers. ORD followed about two years ago. In the Southwest, spotters are ramping up an outfit in Phoenix.

    Related: The Dreamliner returns]

    As we stand about 1,000 yards from the end of O'Hare Runway 14 Right, the wind blows from the south on this particular day. That means air traffic controllers will be sending departing jets our way. Just seconds after their wheels slip the surly bonds of Earth, brightly painted machines weighing a half-million pounds each will soon be dangling just a few hundred feet above our heads.

    "747!" someone shouts.

    A hulking Lufthansa jumbo jet looms over the trees. Immediately every camera lens points upward.

    Richard Carlson, group vice president, takes aim with his Canon 7D. Sporting an ORD Airport Watch baseball cap and shades, Carlson walks and talks with a classic, charismatic Chicago swagger. When Carlson mentions the plane he most wants to capture on camera, his tone goes reverent: Air Force One.

    "It's like the holy grail of airplanes," says Carlson. "It's the most famous plane in the world."

    From coast to coast and country to country, many of them turn to Twitter for information via hashtags like #spotters and #avgeek -- shorthand for aviation geek.

    For ex-Trump Airlines IT chief Steve Bailey, the holy grail is a Boeing 747. And not just any 747.

    Bailey -- who grew up around airports in England and Canada -- has been jonesing for years to get a shot of a specific 747 located in the middle of a Tunisian desert.

    Two 747s -- remnants of the 1991 Persian Gulf War -- languish on a landing strip near the city of Tozeur, where Saddam Hussein ordered them moved to avoid a U.S.-led attack. Bailey has a photo of one of the two desert planes. All he needs is the other one, and then he'll possess the complete pair. Plane spotting shares aspects of birdwatching and collecting baseball cards.

    High school librarian Ana Peso, 30, first fell for jumbo jets as a kid during a family flight to Spain. "I love the shape of them," she says. Last year, Peso appeared as a contestant on TV's "Jeopardy." Show host Alex Trebek asked her, "So you're a plane spotter. What does that mean?"

    "I like to take photos of airplanes," Peso said. Sadly, Peso didn't win -- perhaps because there weren't enough questions about planes.

    Clearly outnumbered, Peso is one of only 13 women in the group. "It's awkward, I guess," she says, looking around at all the men on the Grassy Knoll. She shrugs it off as if to say it's not a big deal.

    Ivan Voukadinov pipes in with his story. The 25-year-old Bulgarian with a diamond stud in his left earlobe counts himself as a lover of military aircraft. And boy, did he prove it. Last summer he traveled thousands of miles from Chicago to Voronezh in western Russia to capture images of supersonic MiG-25 fighter jets -- a classic symbol of the Cold War.

    A Russian soldier noticed Voukadinov as he was shooting photos along the facility's fence line. After Voukadinov gave a quick explanation, the soldier left him alone as long as he promised to keep a low profile.

    "Sometimes you have to risk your freedom," he says with a smile.

    In addition to cameras, other spotting tools include software that tracks incoming planes on a map. Aircraft equipment called ADS-B sends out electronic signatures which broadcast unique tail numbers. Special receivers allow plane spotters to pick up those signals and follow each plane on the map as it approaches the airport. Yes, there's a phone app for that. But Bailey uses a small portable box called a Kinetic SBS-1.

    Related: Are you a window seater or aisle flier?

    Another plane screams overhead. "A330! SAS!"

    The signature bright blue tail of a Scandinavian Airlines Airbus A330 comes into view. The cameras go nuts.

    ---------- Добавлено в 09:06 ----------

    #Avgeeks: The new warriors on terror
    (Part 2) http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/04/travel/plane-spotters-versus-terrorists/index.html
    Serious business

    But don't get the wrong idea. These folks may be enjoying themselves, but sometimes it's all business.

    In fact, it was a landing by that "holy grail" -- Air Force One -- that got a member kicked out of the group. ORD Airport Watch is all-volunteer. There are no minimum hours and no shifts. The members spot whenever they like, on their own personal schedules. But as informal as that may be, there are rules.

    Members must undergo police background checks. They're trained to look for suspicious activity and how to report it immediately to police. While spotting, they must carry their police-issued ID cards with them and wear their official orange vests. They must log their spotting time and activity on the official ORD Airport Watch website.

    Those who don't follow the rules suffer the consequences.

    Recently Secret Service agents discovered an ORD spotter parked near the airport waiting to shoot photos of Air Force One. "He wasn't wearing his vest and he wouldn't identify himself," says group president Ian Hardie. "At the next board meeting it was decided he would be let go."

    Hardie -- a confident, buttoned-down former air traffic controller with the British navy -- co-founded a similar airport security outfit in his native Scotland.

    "This program should be replicated across the whole U.S.," says Hardie, who on 9/11 lost a distant cousin at the World Trade Center. After serving in wars in the Falkland Islands, Bosnia-Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, Hardie doesn't like the idea of getting "blown up in my own backyard."

    Airline seating: It's not you, it's the seats

    Frank Soto, village president of Bensenville, one of several Chicago-area communities surrounding the airport, credits the the program with helping to cut crime by 6% last year -- 54% since 2009.

    But the focus rests clearly on spotting terrorists. FBI and TSA agents meet and coordinate with the group bimonthly. The Department of Homeland Security trains members to identify shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles and how to report them.

    "When a plane is leaving or landing is the most vulnerable time to take them down," says Bensenville Police Officer Joel Vargas, an early supporter and co-founder. "It's crucial to have friendly people on the ground looking for terrorists who may be casing a place."

    "If you're a criminal driving around the airport and you see people with cameras standing around a parking lot, would you be stopping your car anywhere near there to commit your crime? No," says Bensenville Police Deputy Chief John Lustro.

    The idea of shared responsibility between spotters and local police appeals to federal authorities. "TSA is proud to provide support and training to the Bensenville Police Department Airport Watch Program to help improve security at the Chicago O'Hare International Airport," a TSA representative said in a statement to CNN.

    Almost every member has a story about why he or she fell in love with airplanes. Bob LaCursia, 51, grew up under an O'Hare flight path. The roar of jet engines reminds him of home. Jose Guillen, 25, caught the bug seven years ago from a family friend who worked at American Airlines. Marcus McElroy's boyhood flights on a DC-9 from Alabama to Atlanta propelled him toward aerospace engineering and nine years at NASA.

    Now they're all spotters -- watching the skies and helping police.

    These kinds of cooperative programs are rare in the U.S. O'Hare's program took a page from similar outfits in Ottawa and at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which -- when it launched in 2008 -- boasted being the first program of its kind in the United States.

    "It's important to bring our community in and try to get them involved in the protection of the airport because that's the way we get a lot of the information that we're going to need to keep it safe," says Officer JoLynn Christianson, who heads the police/spotter watch program at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. It's critical, she said, to include "people having the leisure time to be watching the aircraft and knowing the difference between something suspicious and something that wouldn't be."

    Despite these successes in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago, a 2-year-old spotter watch program in Phoenix has been slower to grow.

    Nonetheless, Christianson says Minneapolis and Chicago could easily serve as examples for airports across the nation. "Our airport watch members believe in it. They think it's better for the airport and they feel involved in the process," Christianson says. "It's a win-win for both the airport and for spotters. It's innovative and it makes the community a safer place to be."
    Последнее редактирование:


    ORD watcher

    ---------- Добавлено в 22:48 ----------

    ORD. July 13, 2013

    ORD Airport Watch group members are to catch very first arrival of Lufthansa B747-800


    ---------- Добавлено в 22:53 ----------

    Lufthansa B747-800 caught by Bart Maciejewski