Plane spotting

Posted by David Meerman Scott 01:15 AM on September 14, 2009

PlaneI sat next to a gentleman on a flight departing from Las Vegas on Friday who was jotting down the aircraft registration numbers (tail numbers) of all the commercial airplanes that he saw on the field as we taxied from the gate to the runway.

Interesting, I thought. So I asked him about his curious hobby.

"How many individual aircraft have you seen?"

"About 18,000," he says.

"Wow! How long have you been at it?"

He says he started noting commercial aircraft registration numbers in his native Australia when he was ten years old and has been plane spotting ever since. He appeared to be in his 50s, so that’s more than forty years of plane spotting. "I have a database at home of the airline, type of aircraft, registration number, and date that I spotted it," he says.

I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about his hobby. Is it popular? What sorts of things do people do? We chatted for a while and he opened my eyes to a fascinating sub-culture. No, I am not going to start plane spotting, but I found it so interesting.

He told me about a few sites for plane spotters such as Bruce's Planespotting Guide and as well as plane spotting books.

Then I had to ask. “And what kind of work do you do?”

“I’m an airline safety officer,” he says.

Cool. He's been into aircraft since he was ten and now he works in the aviation industry.

OK gang, here's someone who clearly mixes business with pleasure. What a lucky guy. I also manage to mix what I do for a living with what I enjoy. Do you?

Photo: Auter / Shutterstock

David Meerman Scott

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