The story of aviation spotters started in 1925 during the creation of Royal Observation Corps in England. It was not even the troops but civilian volunteers, their task was observation of objects in the air. These were the first spotters, trained to recognize different types of aircraft. The role of “observers of the sky” was relevant during the Cold War, but with the advent of modern radar equipment and a high-speed aircraft, this role has been significantly reduced. In 1991, the Supervisory troops were finally disbanded.
Today spotting has become a peaceful passion and a complete immersion in the world of aviation. Accurately determining the type of aircraft, the knowledge of aircraft, tracking of rare aircrafts – this is what makes a contemporary aviaspotter to live and breathe. Famous Kazakh aircraft spotter Alexander Drugov told us about those whose love for airplanes as limitless as the entire fifth ocean.
TELL US, ALEXANDER, WHAT IS PLANE SPOTTING? IN ADDITION TO AIRCRAFT PHOTOGRAPH, WHAT ELSE DOES IT INCLUDE?
Photography is just one of the components of plane spotting. The essence of spotting is to monitor an aircraft, both in heaven and on earth, determining the type of aircraft, its on-board accommodation and which airline and country it belongs to. Of particular interest are the planes with rare or unusual livery. Most spotters are well aware of aircraft flight schedule and keep track of arrivals (departures) of a rare aircraft.
WHO WAS THE FIRST IN KAZAKHSTAN? TELL US ABOUT THE HISTORY OF SPOTTING CLUBS IN ASTANA AND ALMATY.
In Astana, the first official spotting took place in 2011 with the support of the Marketing Department of the airport. There were 14 people. Now there are many more of those who would like to participate, but the airport limits the number of participants. To those who are interested in aircraft spotting, I advise to read some interesting and informative articles on the Internet.
ARE THERE ANY DIFFICULTIES WITH ACCESS TO THE AIRPORTS?
To get an official access to the territory of the airports is not so simple. For this purpose, you need to send a request to the airport’s HR-department. The request is considered by senior management and they make a decision to permit or refuse one’s participation. In case of a positive decision we provide a list of participants with complete data, copies of identity documents and branded photographic equipment. On arrival at the airport the service security allocates a staff member to accompany our group. The bus is provided, so they can move around the airport. The key to future relations is compulsory compliance with orders of the airport representatives.
DO AIRLINES HELP YOU IN ANY WAY?
We would like to thank our airlines for their cooperation. The fact is that before leaving for spotting, we talk on the phone and write letters to our airlines for permission to photograph the aircrafts belonging to them. For our part, if necessary, we provide all the footage on a pro bono basis. In some cases, companies meet us and provide access to the aircraft cabin. The dream of every spotter is to pilot an aircraft someday.
WHAT PROFIT DOES SPOTTING BRING?
Aircraft spotting is a hobby! There is no question of payment. A spotter can be compared to a fisherman, who enjoys every fish he caught. Spotting brings you fun and excitement.
WHAT IS VIRTUAL SPOTTING? HOW LONG DOES IT EXIST?
Before we start talking about virtual spotting, it is necessary to explain who simmers are. A simmer is a virtual pilot, who is engaged in civil or military aviation. They are playing on flight simulators in compliance with all air travel rules. To put it simply, today there are several game simulators, which allow a player to fly on planes or act as an air traffic controller in real time. The main condition when you play online is compliance with aviation regulations. So, virtual spotters take screenshots of an aircraft in the sky and on the ground on these simulators.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE PART OF THE SPOTTING CLUB? WHAT DO THEY DO?
A lot of spotters are on their own; in this regard, it is hard to say exactly how many there are. They are all very different people, from janitors to directors, but they are all united by their love for aviation.
WHAT ARE THE DEVELOPMENT TRENDS OF SPOTTING IN KAZAKHSTAN?
Every year our cooperation with airports and airlines is becoming stronger and more interesting. We are invited to different events and shows. In the near future, with the airlines’ support, we plan to organize spotting in different regions of Kazakhstan, which should attract the interest of foreign tourists.