N755NW, a 42-year old NWA DC-9-41 Blasts Out of STL
Happy New Year! Heck, happy new decade while we’re at it.
With the closing of each year I invest a considerable amount of time in reflection before setting my goals and aspirations for the future. A perennial resolution I have set (and then catastrophically failed to meet) has been to make sense of the ~150K+ PlaneSpotting photos I have amassed since diving into the hobby over the summer of 2009.
While trying to determine what goal – if any – I would set around this, an intriguing question dawned on me. How has PlaneSpotting changed in the past decade? Sure, we didn’t have JetTip, ADSBexchange, or FlightRadar24 to allow for surgical, dare I say lazy, spotting. We just had to show up, maybe listen to ATC, and see what the day would bring. But how has what we might see changed?
Well, I have photographic proof of what aviation looked like at a number of airports over the course of 2010. In retrospect, it was a good travel and spotting year for me. What if, perhaps, I set a mini goal to at the very least look at every photo shot over that one year and highlight particular items of note? I spent a number of hours over the past weekend doing just that. One clear difference? My skill and equipment have come a long way over the past decade! But I digress.
Click through to join me for a stroll down AvGeek memory lane for a year which proved transformational to the AvGeek world.
We #AvGeeks are easy to please. Just give us a good view of the planes, and we’re golden. Too few airports in the US have official planespotting points, but San Francisco International (SFO) just made that situation a bit better. On February 6th it unveiled a new outdoor observation deck at the very tip of the international terminal’s G concourse.
How good is it? Very good. How close are you to the planes? Very, very close.
It’s post-security (AKA airside) so you need to be flying United or one of its Star Alliance partners to have access. But don’t worry landsiders: later this year SFO will open a pre-security observation deck in T2.
For now, read on for more info and photos from SFO’s new observation deck!
TPA Airport’s CEO Joe Lopano, an AvGeek!. – Photo: Ashley Iaccarino for Tampa Airport
How AvGeek-friendly is your airport? In many areas, it seems a lot more than in prior years. All across the U.S., the trend of airports opening up, being more engaging, and accommodating aviation fans continues in favor of the enthusiasts. This airport community engagement behavior is most deserving of praise, as there still remain some airports clinging to draconian, misguided harshness.
Two airports, Louisville (SDF) and Tampa (TPA), have recently caught my eye with their own outreach programs. They are doing great work, work that lays the foundation for others to adopt, and roll out on their own terms. At the end of the day, a safe airport is one with an engaged and well-informed general public. These airports get it. Does yours?
Aruba Airlines A319 A4-AAE lands at Oranjestad Queen Beatrix International Airport – Click photo to enlarge
Greetings from Aruba! Visiting the “one happy island” (as they market it) has been on my to-do list since Southwest started service here a few years back via integration of AirTran’s ops into their own. As luck would have it, my newly minted AvGeek wife was amenable to a honeymoon visit. SXM, the AvGeek Mecca, would have been our first choice, but that island is still in repair mode from extensive damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
PlaneSpotting in Aruba: Hotel private island south of Oranjestad Queen Beatrix International Airport – Image: Flightradar24.com
While researching PlaneSpotting in Aruba, I was delighted to learn that two local hotels share a private island which runs alongside Aruba’s airport – Oranjestad Queen Beatrix International Airport. While no #MahoBeach, this would certainly fit the bill for running away from the already cold (and falling) Kansas City temps to enjoy some tropical weather, and allowing us to check out some planes. Bonus points for wild iguanas, pelicans, and an occasional flamingo as well.
The island is only accessible via 10-minute boat ride, and is exclusive to guests of one of two Renaissance properties in Aruba. As a sort of deterrent to outsiders, the boat captains ask each passenger for their keycard and insert it into what is almost certainly a phony offline card reader. In any case, should you plan to visit, stay at one of the two properties or call ahead to make other arrangements. We heard twice that non-customers can purchase a day pass to the island depending on availability. Being that this was our honeymoon and I recently achieved lifetime Marriott platinum status, it seemed appropriate to stay at one of the upscale properties.
We spent most of the day on the island, hopping in and out of the ocean between active and inactive arrival periods. For any other relationship or honeymoon, this wouldn’t be tolerated, but thankfully my AvGeek wife was fully on board with my desire to strike a balance between unwinding while on Caribbean vacation and maintaining a healthy dose of plane spotting in Aruba. Click through to see the day’s catch…