All four of them grew up under flight paths. For some people living under a lot of planes is a nuisance. It has always been an endless source of fascination for these three.
As a child, he stood in his backyard and watched the planes, leaning back for a longer look. Honan grew up near the airport in Albany, New York. Dwyer-Lindgren lived near the approach to the airport. Most of the planes that visited his local airport were smaller regional flights, so he sometimes tried to convince family members or neighbors to drive him an hour or so east to Boston's Logan International Airport, where he could see massive Boeing 747s from all over the world.
I was fascinated by the idea that you could get on a plane and end up in a different place. Dwyer-Lindgren is a photographer in Seattle. I think airports are places of possibility.
The three men are aviation enthusiasts. Thousands of people watch the sky for unique aircraft. Some people like to fly on exotic routes. Some people keep track of the planes in notebooks and spreadsheets. Some of them take photos of rare paint schemes. Most people in airports never notice a stripe or color block. It could be a hidden treasure.THE GASTRO OBSCURA BOOK
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Planes are more than machines for airlines. Airlines have been putting more thought into how they paint their aircraft in recent years. Sometimes they will create special liveries to market a new route or service. Alaska Airlines turned one of its planes into a huge fish to promote its home state's fishing industry. You can imagine that designs like these can be avgeek heaven.
One of the people who figure out how to paint a plane is an avgeek himself, and that's why he helped create a livery for the new Northern Pacific Airways. As a child, Huot built model planes and came up with fables about who was on them and where they were going. He worked in reservations before moving to marketing. The new design is black and white and has blue and green winglets to invoke the northern lights.
Huot says that a plane-sized canvas is a dream come true for a designer, but also presents challenges. Planes are not flat, and they are seen from a variety of angles. It is almost impossible to know what a plane will look like until it is done.
Northern Pacific will eventually have a dozen of these planes in the air, and that scarcity will make them targets for avgeeks, some of whom might go great lengths to see them.
Thanks to the internet, it's easier than ever to find interesting planes in the world, and Dwyer-Lindgren says he has traveled all over the world in search of them. He says it was more like flying blind in the early 2000s. He was able to get someone to drive him to Boston on those rare days, but he had to go to the arrivals board with a pen and paper and write down as much flight information as he could. International flights are the most interesting because they tend to be larger and from airlines that he wouldn't normally see at his home airport. When he went to New York for a group meet-up at John F. Kennedy International Airport, he really got involved with the community. Major airports include Los Angeles and Miami.
It can be difficult for newcomers to pick up the art of planespotting. Having a basic understanding of how an airport operates is important for avgeeks. Dwyer-Lindgren missed a lot of photos because he was in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Most flights on a live map have helped. It is not just specially painted planes that avgeeks are after. Older planes that are being retired are also tracked by fans. For him, that meant the Boeing 747, perhaps one of the most recognizable jets ever built, with a large fuselage and telltale hump on top. More than 1,500 people have flown since the late 1960s, but fewer and fewer are using passenger service. There might only be a few dozen left in commercial service carrying people right now, following a rash of retirements. The species was once common.
They made international travel accessible to the average person.
Honan says the thrill of the hunt is what got him interested in aviation photography. Railroads took more of his attention until he went planespotting with a coworker near his home. His interest went back to normal. TheSalmon Thirty Salmon was one of the planes he could see at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
It was the pursuit of things out of the ordinary that got me back into it. I was going out to see a specific plane and it was the only one that was painted in a specific scheme.
Honan spends his free time photographing military and firefighting planes. Tactical military aircraft are rarely tracked on apps, but low-level training missions occur on designated routes in remote areas. Honan has traveled throughout the West in the last few years looking for the perfect picture. When everything comes together in a great shot of an unusual aircraft, it is incredibly rewarding. He frequently shares the images he takes with the pilots as a way of thanking them for their service.
Military and firefighting planes are just two of the many areas of interest in the hobby. Private jets, helicopters, even planes carrying sports teams are popular among others. Sports teams criss-cross the country and there is a dedicated account on the social media site. When he was a kid, he was interested in aviation, but it wasn't until the mid-2010s that he began photographing planes at his local airport. The world's largest aircraft, the Antonov AN-225, was used to move cargo and humanitarian supplies during disasters. The plane was destroyed by Russian forces.
He turned helping fellow avgeeks into a career. He wondered if he could create a service that would let him know when rare or interesting planes were coming to the Twin Cities. With his background in web development, Benson was able to find out how to tip him off. JetTip has turned into a subscription service that helps fans at airports across North America when they are looking for something interesting.
He says that he helped make a lot of people happy because they were able to see a plane that had been on their bucket list for a long time.
With new airlines and new planes emerging all the time, and old models and designs being retired, Benson and the others will always have plenty to know.