Aircraft and ship spotting are all consuming pastimes.
Southampton ship spotting has been a bit sparse recently but it can be difficult to get the tides, the weather and ship movement times to all line up! And then when that happens, you find more than half of the ships moving have been seen before!
Aircraft spotting, on the other hand, can be a bit more rewarding and equally a bit more frustrating.
Having had a great day at Heathrow recently when I was able to catch the first day's service for both the Gulf Air new 787s, plus the Qatar A330 planes flying for British Airways during their 787 drought (caused by defective engines having to go back to Rolls Royce for repairs), I decided a trip to Gatwick might be in order.
The weather was perfect with easterly winds and lots of sunshine. I picked a day and woke very early (03:50). I hoped to catch the early morning Cathay Pacific A350 arrival at approx 06:40. I was early so I took my time, studied Planefinder to see what else was on the way, allowed myself an hour to get there and off I went. That was the first mistake! An hour from home to Heathrow is good but Gatwick is almost twice as far. So, after parking the car and while walking up the road to my "spot", I saw the Cathay A350 crossing the fence on its way in! (That was when I realised the error of my timings!) The weather started out relatively cold but eventually, about 08:30, it began to warm up. I had a great day but it was spoiled a little by my mobile phone complaining about the battery getting low. No problem. I have one of those battery block things you can use to charge the phone battery. That was when I found I had left the cable at home! Panic! How was I going to check the incoming aircraft to see if I had seen them before? In the end, by very careful use of the phone and the Planefinder App, I managed to get the battery to last until the end of the day.
I had decided I would make the arriving China Airlines A350 the last flight of my day. This flight was due around 16:30. At round 15:30, my camera battery joined in with the phone, complaining it was desperate for a charge. I have only the single battery for this camera so it was a case of getting a couple of shots, then switching the camera off. I managed to make it to the China A350 and set off home.
When I got home, I found I had taken almost 1,200 shots that day. I figured this would mean a lot of work sorting and processing them but I wasn't too worried as I would only process those I had not seen before. It didn't take me long to discover this meant I had 81 different aircraft to process! At Heathrow, I get excited if I have 10 or 12 "new" aircraft to take care of. I have never before had to worry about as many as 81!
I thought I would have an easy day today and decided on Farnborough. I have never been there to photograph planes before and I first had to find the right spot. Having done that, I settled down thinking I would be happy if I got a couple of dozen shots. I came home with 285 to sort through! And that was all in the space of just over 3.5 hours! It will be interesting to see how many are "good" ones as all photographs had to be taken through a fence which had a lot of bushes on the other side. Sometimes, I would get a shot framed, through the fence, only for the wind to blow, putting oak leaves in the picture instead of an aircraft.
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