Planespotting What is plane spotting?

Have you ever stumbled across the term “plane spotting” and wondered, what that really means? In our new news category, AVIPEO.COM will explain what plane spotting is, why you should start, and what you should take care of when beginning.

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What is plane spotting?

The term plane spotting describes a hobby, where you drive to an airport to observe aircraft taking off or landing. At first sight, this might sound a little bit weird, but in fact it is great fun. Seeing the aircraft taking off or landing in front of you is always fascinating and will always be.

Plane spotting can be done in various shapes or forms. Most plane spotters are using cameras to capture the movement of aircraft. Especially DSLR cameras ensure great quality pictures, however you can decide by yourself of how far you are willing to go regarding the price you pay. With a DSLR camera naturally comes the opportunity to buy expensive lenses.

Most of the time when spotting, you might need the range of a 70-300mm lens. This type of zoom-lens enables you to not only shoot pictures, where the aircraft is completely visible, but also so called “close-ups” where you try to capture details of aircraft. But lenses with less focal length are also very popular when spotting, since they could be needed if you want to photograph aircraft, that are not that far away from you.

Camera lenses and DSLR bodies are normally very pricey. The good thing about plane spotting is, that you can start even without having a camera. Just drive out to your next local airport and take in everything you experience. Seeing different aircraft lifting off the ground or burning their rubber on the runway is a great feeling.

This fascination does not only apply on big widebody jets, but also on smaller ones. Furthermore, there are special liveries on many aircraft and there might be visits of rare aircraft to your local airport. Plane spotting also means having luck seeing a special aircraft. You just have to go out and try your luck! Once you are infected with the love for aviation, you will never get away from it.

Snapshot of a Boeing 757 at sunset
Snapshot of a Boeing 757 at sunset © Maurits Eisenblätter

Many spotters share their pictures on big databases or in plane spotting forums. But there are also plane spotters, that are not using a camera to pursue the hobby. If you see a person near an airport with a notepad and a paper in its hands, this might be an “registration-spotter”. He does not need a camera but notes every aircraft registration he sees, with the date, location and time. Normally, reg-spotters have a huge number of notepads full of registrations.

It also does not matter, how old you are, where you are from or what worldview you have. In the plane spotting community, we all share the same interest and fascination. If you meet like-minded people while spotting, great friendships can emerge. It is not rarely seen, that spotters travel around the world together to capture new aircraft and new liveries that you might not see on a regular basis at your local airport.

Now that you are willing to just drive out to the airport and start plane spotting, we will explain in the next article of our AVIPEO.COM plane spotting series, what you should pay attention to when beginning spotting. We will also share with you the world´s best airports to do plane spotting, so stay tuned!

Wanted: Plane Spotters!

You are an active plane spotter and want to share your pictures with the AVIPEO.COM community? Send us your pictures with a description to and we will post it in our news category "Plane Spotting".


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