I have a hobby that only my close friends know about. It’s a solitary passion that I only get to enjoy sporadically. But, like any hidden subject, the first step to shining a light on the topic comes with admitting it to yourself and to others! So, here it goes…My name is Trev and I am a plane spotter.
I wish I could get inside your head right now to know what you are thinking. Some of you might be reading this and asking the question, ‘why’. Others among you might discreetly think ‘why not’, or maybe even fewer of you will think, ‘so am I’.
When I am asked why I like plane spotting, I explain how I was brought to look at planes on Sunday drives with my father and my siblings. You have to remember this was back in the 1980s when the price of flights was, pardon the pun, sky high. So the chances of my dad, supporting a family of five kids on an average wage, being able to afford to take us all away on a plane, were zero! So the nearest we got to these exotic metal birds of paradise was the perimeter road around the airport. And that copperfastened my love of the jet engines’ roar, the pungent smell of aviation fuel and the astounding speed of a departing plane. Now, it also brings me back to a time of innocence, happiness and familiarity when nothing mattered only family fun on a free-wheeling Sunday spin.
I have to say that there are many misconceptions about plane spotters that I have only recently discovered myself such as they are all lonely nerds with no friends. Or that they are failed wannabe pilots who never made the grade. Or even worse, they are people who watch planes alone because they have no social skills for any other hobby that requires communication with humans.
All of the above are completely mistaken misnomers. I know, not just because I am a plane spotter, but because I am currently making a radio documentary about the hobby and those who partake in it. I started making the documentary because I need to know that I am not alone in my plane spotting pursuit. Gladly, I quickly found out that I am far from alone. For starters, there is a dedicated Dublin Airport Movements facebook page with an astonishing 5,471 members.
The research for my recording has proven that plane spotters are no different from the rest of us…in fact, they come from all walks of life. I have met a pilot whose passion for planes started when he was a boy in Swords living close to the airport. Jack is now a First Officer for Norwegian Airlines after paying his own way through flight training school and even working as a flight handler after he qualified because couldn’t initially find work as a pilot. However, surprisingly, Jack is not just coy about telling people he is a plane spotter, he’s also reticent to reveal that he is a pilot. Hear his reasons in the clip below.
The spotting at Dublin Airport takes place mainly on ‘The Mound‘. This is a grassy bank that has an elevation higher than the runway perimeter fence thus affording a perfect perch for plane spotting. I was shy at first about actually joining other spotters up on ‘The Mound’ in case they were a closed cohort who didn’t welcome newcomers. Instead, the complete opposite was the case. On my first visit, I bumped into Alberto who is from Venezuela but lives in Tenerife. He talks candidly below about how his hobby made him initially feel like a social outsider until he found some like-minded folk.
After exploring the topic further for my radio documentary and after meeting some great people who share my passion for planes, I will hide my hobby no more… So I say it loud and proud, my name is Trev and I am a plane-spotter.