Monday, October 24, 2016

Planespotters of Mumbai: Thrilled to stare at the sky, just to spot a plane

AS A Class V student, Sahil Patel would love staring out of his classroom window to marvel at the airplanes flying over his school in Kurla. Now 21 years old, Sahil, a resident of Jari Mari, an area in close proximity to one of the boundary walls of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, has turned to planespotting as a hobby. “When I was growing up, many would come to our area with high-end camera equipment, looking for spots to take photographs of airplanes. That increased my curiosity about planespotting,” Sahil says.
Planespotters, a small but growing community of aviation enthusiasts, throng areas around the airport and other spots to catch a glimpse of aircraft arriving in the city. These can include an inaugural flight of an airline, the first arrival of a jetliners such as the Boeing 747-800, Airbus A380 or an Ilyushin il-76 or a special livery on an airplane. Many begin their passion by spotting planes and identifying them for their makes and other trivia about them and progress to aviation photography to log their sightings.
“Earlier, it required the same kind of patience as it does for bird-watching in a forest as there were no dedicated mediums for information on new fleet or rare airplanes except for the news. Now, with apps like FlightRadar to track real-time air traffic, one can be better alerted to special arrivals and diversions coming to the city” says Vishal Jolapara, who has been planespotting for about 14 years now. He prides on having managed to photograph Air Force One, the US President’s plane, when Barack Obama visited the city in 2010. According to him, other important events in the calendar of a Mumbai planespotter would be the annual Haj pilgrimage, when rare aircrafts are in the city to ferry pilgrims to Mecca.
24/10/16 Sadaf Modak/The Indian Express