Plane spotting

boeing-4Don’t you just hate getting stuck seated next to that guy on the plane? The person who can take one look at a jet and knows right away which company manufactured it and which family it belongs to, but can also throw in some random facts about its performance. With so many online resources allowing aviation fanatics to track planes and share their favorite photos and experiences, plane-spotting has become a more alluring hoby than ever. Ready to grab your binoculars?

Here are some tips and tricks to get you started.

Identifying an airplane from a distance is a skill that comes with familiarity and the only way to gain that is to be around airports and ogling at airplanes as regularly as one could. According to planespotting.com “There is of course the overall shape of the airplane to note, but there comes a point where one plane looks like another. So there are other details that one could look to for clues.”

Where to begin?  

Matt Falcus, founder of the web site airportspoting.com, and author of World Airports Spotting Guides, says it can get tricky because many airliners do indeed look similar, especially those built by Airbus and Boeing, the two main manufacturers. However, you can start to distinguish airliners by the number of engines they have, or by whether they are a large long-haul aircraft which travel long distances, or a short/medium haul aircraft which travel on domestic or regional fights.

There are also clues in the shape of the nose, tail position, wing shape, number of doors, the landing gear, the position of the horizontal stabilizer near the tail and even the shape of the cockpit windows.

If you’re close enough to see the registration number, located on the side of the plane near the tail, a quick online search will give you plenty of details on the aircraft, including when it was made and by which manufacturer, which airlines have flown it and the type of engines it’s fitted with.

At the end of the day plane spotting is an interesting hobby, and I feel as if everyone should at least try it and see if they like it.

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