Plane spotting .... again

Just spent another morning between assignments hanging out in the back streets around Seatac Airport, this time photographing incoming aircraft with my new Nikon D810 and it's monster files. Flying used to mean adventure, and as a kid, risk, but as I’ve gotten older the adventures have been tempered and flying is, well, just so safe. The thrill is gone. This recent series is shot from straight under and the dirtier the plane the better. The streaks of mud and oil somehow make the planes seem more real to me, now that flying has become so mundane.

The impulse for these photos comes from when I was 11, in the spring of 1977. On holiday with my family, the home we stayed in had the latest issue of Time Magazine with the photos from the terrible crash of two Boeing 747s at Tenerife Airport. I obsessed about that magazine the whole trip, constantly sneaking peeks at the incredible images of the burning 747, wing and engines still intact (photo at bottom). The crash of a Boeing 727 in California a year later, also caught on film by a photographer, sealed this fascination. I guess that has always been part of the ‘thrill’ of flying for me; the chance you might stop flying. Maybe my fascination with airplane crashes acts as a talisman for it happening to me but at a minimum, it potentially makes the boredom of modern air travel more interesting.


Below, on the left, the crash of two 747s in Tenerife in 1977 & on the right, the crash of a Boeing 727 in California after a mid-air collision: