The Debut: Thoughts About Plane-Spotting

Oct.28th, 2019.
Translated & Posted Mar.17th, 2020

I don’t know when I was in love with Plane Spotting.

The so-called plane spotting is the process of pressing the camera’s shutter when the plane flies in front of you, allowing the light reflected by the plane to pass through the lens and enter the camera’s CMOS, leaving a signal on camera processor. For me, a green hand in spotting (at least when I wrote this article, the very first one of Martinview), plane spotting is about taking pictures of planes. 

According to surveys among my classmates, few of them understand why should I go plane spotting, which cost 60 yuan to travel and more than an hour of commute time (sometimes it was 40km by bicycle). When spotting, a whole day was spent, seeming wasted on the lawn of the parking lot near RWY 01 in Beijing International Airport. More than that, hearing that “SAS’s ‘5-apu’ is on short final, intercepting the glide slope!”, while sitting cozily in the terminal, I immediately grabbed the backpack, picked up the camera, and flew 400m to the ideal shooting location.  The speed is comparable to the sprint I made in last week’s orienteering. After finishing the spotting, the photo editing was another night. The finished pictures are “useless”: can’t gain no reputation, no use for SAT, not fancy enough for some Benthamism stuff. Only for sending friends, uploading to aviation photo webiste (and often rejected).

   It sounds like plane spotting is just a waste of time and stamina. At present, we need to devote a lot of time to standardization tests, competitions and activities that can list on the “activities list”. In the eyes of many parents, plane spotting is just a prodigal lavish , isn’t it?

“The SAS A340-313 LN-RKG that made me run 400m with a knee injury mentioned above ”


   No, you are wrong. For me, that is a key factor to ensure my efficiency, and an important means to expand my interest. I like plane spotting, because I feel peaceful when I crack the shutter. After a week of stressful study, my mentality became unstable and I couldn’t concentrate while devoting more on those. This is when I went to the airport, sitting alone or with my gang on the lawn of the East Parking lot, listening to the engine of the aircraft roaring and watching them land on the transparent blue background. When you press the shutter, you find that you only have the plane in front of you, without all the earthly complexity. When you press the shutter, you have a link to the aircraft, and your heart calms down. I can feel this tranquility and refresh my state as long as I am spotting.

For me, the such tranquil leads to efficiency. If it’s a conventional weekend, I may get up at 9 o’clock and watch movies while eating breakfast. I am not focused enough while studying, feeling hard to concentrate after weeks of arduous work non-stop. Steam will be activated half way during SAT session, since I can’t get a piece of what teacher’s thinking. But if I decide to go spotting today, then I will really give up all other entertainment activities and use the “only” time to complete as many homework as possible, with a “faith” of having more peaceful time near those planes. No matter how late it is, I will finish all the tasks needed with a high stamina and psyche.

Plane Spotting brings more than academic boost as mentioned above, the process as a whole is a unique experience. I can watch the “golden light” when sun’s setting and watch different liveries and types of aircraft landing in front of me. In the process, I talked with my gangs who I knew for a long time. Usually, some spotters I’ve never met would join in. We chatted about current affairs, spotting feelings, and listened to the “legends ” of airshows. As a “researcher” of aviation pricing, the scene of planes often leads to thought about pricing. Feeling ambiguous about the chosen of fleet, I bought some professional books and start digging in. (I have finished 3 professional level of books when this English version is translated). This is a highly efficient, self-driven learning that is entirely dominated by interest.

Such “a waste of time” in the context of utilitarianism is not some “Useless Toil” that doesn’t produce new things according to William Morris, right? My action justifies: With such a state of mind, on a brilliant afternoon, I hopped on the Airport Express, with my heavy equipment and brisk mind.


Thoughts when translating:

The debut of Martinview is such an “infantry” argument trying to construe the meaning of planespotting in my mind. The following dozens of blogs are inspired by this and with the aim of showing what can planespotting bring more than “a waste of time”. Spotting is sort of “by-product” of my Aviation Research about ancillary service, but a good one. A great bundle of “Aha!” moments emerge in or after spotting in the Reflection period.

A good start is half done! Let’s hope same thing applies for the translation!

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