Here comes 2018! What are you planning to achieve when it comes to your hobby and interests in aviation?
I always get to this time of year, when it’s dark and time seems to be slipping by fast, and I start wishing I’d done more during the previous year, but subsequently vow to make the most of the coming new year.
So with that in mind, here are some tips on how you can do more spotting and see more aircraft in 2018…
Work Out What you DON’T Need to See (and avoid)
Do you tend to visit the same airport(s) over and over again, almost out of routine or because it’s just easier?
If you do that, you’re always going to see the same aircraft, because even if there are some interesting aircraft thrown into the mix, the based fleets don’t change often.
So this year, have a look at your log books or database and work out where the gaps are.
If you’re missing lots of French airliners, then perhaps 2018 could bring a trip to France.
If it’s mainline US aircraft, why not plan to visit some major hub airports in America to make a significant dent in those fleets?
Work Out Which Airports You Haven’t Visited
This one ties in nicely with the previous point.
If there are airports you’ve never visited, then there are all sorts of aircraft which visit those airports which are not going into your logbooks and camera lenses.
Instead of planning the usual trip to Heathrow or Frankfurt this year, look into prices for visiting Madrid or Rome; Los Angeles or Houston.
For me, Asia is severely lacking in my logs. So I’m hoping to incorporate some Asian airports into my 2018 travels…
Save Up and Set Aside Funds
… visiting all of these amazing airports is easier said than done when you haven’t got enough spare cash to do it.
So why not make a point now to start saving for some trips in 2018?
It’s easy to give up on luxuries and non-essentials and divert that money into a fund to go to the places you want to visit. It is a guaranteed way to see more aircraft this year!
Visit Some Aviation Museums
Most countries around the world have a number of amazing aviation museums, ranging from huge sites to smaller collections in out of the way places.
If you log the kind of aircraft in these museums, you have a ready-made collection of aircraft which aren’t going anywhere and are ready to be logged and photographed.
Get a guide to where the aircraft are and what the museum collections include and decide on visiting some this year which you haven’t been to before. You can even incorporate this with trips you’re taking to other countries.
Find Other Spotters to Share the Costs
Another money-saving option is to share the costs with like-minded spotters who also want to visit the same airports and museums as you.
While you can’t share the costs of flights, you can certainly share hotel rooms and car hire, which can definitely make a trip more affordable.
Another thing you can do is to join an aviation tour where the bulk booking reduces the costs of flights and rooms, and helps you visit more airports in an intense spotting trip which has all been organised for you. A good example of an aviation tour company in the UK is Aeroprints, but there are many more organisations that do this.
Plan to Visit a Manufacturing Airport
Catching new aircraft before they have chance to be delivered to their new homes (where you’ll likely never see them in your spotting lifetime) is a great way of seeing more aircraft than you normally would.
These days, manufacturers like Airbus and Boeing and producing aircraft at a phenomenal rate to keep up with the backlog of orders. This means that on any given visit, you’re likely to see a lot of aircraft on the ground or nearing completion. They will have a punishing testing scheduled for a little while before delivery takes place and they’re gone forever.
On my last visit to Toulouse, I was lucky enough to see A320s and ATRs destined for India, Vietnam, Mexico and Colombia. Now, as much as I intend to go spotting in these places *one day*, I’m not likely to go any time soon. And yet these aircraft are all now safely in my log book having taken a short (and cheap) trip from the UK.
The main manufacturing airports are at Hamburg Finkenwerder in Germany (Airbus), Toulouse Blagnac in France (Airbus), Seattle Boeing Field (Boeing), Renton Municipal (Boeing) and Everett Paine Field (Boeing), along with Charleston (Boeing 787) all in the USA.
So there you have it. What are you going to do in 2018? Which airports are top of your list to visit?
Leave a comment below and tell us where you’ll be going.