Plain Aviation

the life of a planespotter and true avgeek

Tag: aviation

Canon 5D Mark IV Release – Good for planespotting?

Just this week on Thursday the 25th of August, Canon publicly released the long-anticipated 5D Mark IV full frame DSLR body, the successor to the popular 5D Mark III. The 5D line has always been popular amongst wedding photographers, product photographers, fashion photographers and photography enthusiasts, but not so much amongst planespotters. Instead, the Canon 7D series has long been the camera of choice for aviation photographers, mainly because of its superior speed and AF tracking system. But as the 5D Mark IV is bringing along some features that will give it some of the speed of the 7D, perhaps it could be the new camera of choice for aviation photography.

Why airfare is so expensive

Recently, I watched a short 10 minute educational video on YouTube explaining why airfare is as expensive as it is. Here is the link to it in case you want to watch it. In short, the video uses an example of an Airbus A320 fully loaded from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) just south of Washington D.C. to illustrate the costs that go into a commercial flight. The video makes the conservative consumption that the aircraft is fully loaded with 154 passengers (which is rarely the case) and that each ticket for the flight costs around 80 dollars (which is what they were selling for online).

5 tips for photo acceptance

Most beginning plane spotters and aviation photographers struggle to get their first photo accepted on to online aviation photography databases such as or This is no surprise at all as these websites are very strict when it comes to image quality and reject the majority of images that pass through the screening and selection process. Therefore you shouldn’t feel discouraged when your first couple of uploads are rejected. It took me nearly a dozen attempts before I was able to get my first photo accepted on the With some persistence and practice, eventually the right photo will come along. Here are my five tips to help you improve your aviation photography and increase your photo acceptance rate.

Jet fuel and aviation – all you need to know

jet fuel texaco aviation tanker canadian pacific

Texaco Aviation Fuel Tanker – Photo by Flickr user Canadian Pacific CC 2.0

Have you ever stopped and wondered about the strange substance we call jet fuel that powers the airplanes you fly on? Perhaps you’re even curious about the nitty-gritty aspects of it, such as what is it made of, how much of it is carried on board every flight, where it is stored, and perhaps how much of it is burned every flight. Look no further, as I’m about to show you all there is to know about jet fuel.

1. What is jet fuel, and what is it made of?

Jet fuel is a specific type of fuel that has been designed to be

Why can’t we use our phones on an airplane?

Airlines have always been very strict on the use of cell phones in-flight due to the belief that they will affect sensitive aircraft systems. Before Airplane Mode was invented and made common, passengers had to shut down their phones entirely for the duration of the flight. But of course, that was also before smartphones became popular and people read newspaper and magazines or talked to their neighbor. Nowadays people are generally allowed to use their electronics only on Airplane Mode and after the aircraft has reached 10,000 feet, although specific regulations vary and

Debris from MH370 found off Mozambique

malaysian airlines 777-200er by christian junker

A Malaysian Airlines 777-200ER similar to the one operating MH370 when it disappeared. Photo by Christian Junker. CC 2.0

For the second time since the disappearance of MH370 in March of 2014, debris from the “crashed” airplane has been found. Last time it was a flaperon (a movable control surface) from the wing found on Reunion Island, this time it’s a piece of the horizontal stabilizer ( found near Mozambique. Experts have agreed that the piece, painted with the words “NO STEP”, is indeed from a Boeing 777, and therefore

Lasers and aviation safety – what’s the deal?

In light of what happened the other day with Virgin Atlantic flight VS25, I’d like to talk about lasers and the special relationship they seem to have with aviation. On February the 14th 2016, Virgin Atlantic flight VS25, an A340-600 carrying 267 from London to New York, was forced to declare a pan-pan and return to LHR as the co-pilot felt sick after being hit by a laser during take-off. Now if you’ve been following aviation news it would appear as though incidents involving pilots and lasers are curiously commonplace. Often times pilots are hit by lasers shone through the cockpit window from a source on the ground. This seriously endangers the safety of the aircraft as studies done by the FAA have shown pilots can be temporarily blinded or distracted by such lasers. Permanent damage to the eye is also possible. Most incidents involving pilots and lasers take place during the crucial takeoff and landing phases of the flight, where smaller mistakes have larger consequences and aircraft are at their most vulnerable stage. It begs the question, of all things that can distract pilots or hinder the safety of a flight, why do laser strikes seem to be the most common? Most of the time, laser strikes such as the one that was likely experienced by the crew of Vs25 are the result of people on the ground with little concern for aviation safety or a crude and irresponsible sense of entertainment pointing basic non-military-grade lasers at departing or arriving aircraft. It seems as though there are quite a handful of such people around the world, as lasers have become a serious danger to aviation safety. Of course other sources of lasers such as weather observatories, buildings, and temporary shows/concerts pose an equal threat, however these sources are usually marked in aeronautical charts or posted in NOTAMS so that pilots are aware of their presence. Most of the issue still lies in irresponsible people on the ground shining lasers on aircraft. Aerial police units are sometimes used to locate the source of these lasers, however until serious action is taken against offenders, it is unlikely that police will be able to deter future incidents. Although it may sound cliché, the only way to do so is to educate people on the effects that lasers can have on aviation safety.

For the nervous flyer – Don’t be scared (and here’s why)

A fear of flying is definitely quite prevalent these days amongst travellers, especially with news sources blowing up even the smallest aviation incidents for people to read and panic over. It’s understandable why people would naturally be scared of flying. Sitting in “a metal tube travelling through the sky near the speed of at 30-thousand feet” just seems to be against our basic instincts. What’s worse is that airplanes seem to deprive you of any sense of what’s going on. Most of the time you can’t even get an unobstructed view of what’s outside as there are only so many windows seats on a plane and even then the window is so small that very little is able to be seen through it and you might as well just be looking through a telescope. Moreover, most flyers don’t know much, if anything, about the workings of the modern airliner, and that can make things quite scary, especially when you’ve lost a lot of your senses. I’ve heard stories of people shitting their pants (hopefully not literally) during a go-around (which is very common, especially in bad weather). It’s understandable. Your plane is seconds away from touch down, when all of the sudden the engines roar and the plane starts climbing away while you’re sitting in your seat unsure of what’s happening. It doesn’t just end there.  Every bump, every thud, and every sound can be the cause of concern for most flyers.  It’s not a problem for pilots, aircraft engineers, or us aviation enthusiasts however, as we understand what’s happening while we’re sitting in the aircraft, and for the most part, we enjoy experiencing it. That loud thump that came from the undercarriage while on approach? Oh that must be the landing gear. That strange whirring/barking noise that you sometimes hear on Airbus aircraft? That must be the PTU transferring hydraulic power. How fascinating.

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