Aviation News

February 16, 2010

Two Planespotters Arrested in India for Suspicious Behavior

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By: Phil Derner Jr.
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Planespotting is a hobby in which aviation enthusiasts enjoy aircraft by jotting down tail-numbers or taking photographs to document them. It is practiced by many hundreds of thousands around the world.

Reports are coming in about a pair of British men being arrested near the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India. Their detention is due to suspicious behavior, which may be nothing more than the hobby of planespotting.

It is being said that the men were staying at the Radisson Hotel near the airfield and were in possession of equipment that can independently track aircraft, as well as cameras, binoculars and maps of the airport. Hotel employees witnessed this and alerted authorities. There is no connection to terrorist activity shown at this time.

Stephen Hampston and Steven Martin say they were just enjoying local aviation as enthusiasts. It is believe that Steve Martin is the same person who has two photos uploaded to the airliners.net photo database website.

If they are indeed planespotters, they would not be the first to get into legal trouble. A group of 14 British and Dutch planespotters from were detained in Greece in 2001 after trying to enjoy the sights at an Air Force base in Kalamata. Their eventual charges, and convictions of illegal information collecting brought sentences of 3 years to eight of the men. They were later acquitted in their appeal.

More on this story as it develops.





  • jeff

    as a friend of a friend who works with both of these guys it is absoloutly outragaous that they have been detained for doing there hobby as they go all over the world spotting planes (each to there own if they want to spend thousands of pounds going all over the world to look at planes) although india is on high alert they should be looking for real threats more close to home

  • jeff

    as a friend of a friend who works with both of these guys it is absoloutly outragaous that they have been detained for doing there hobby as they go all over the world spotting planes (each to there own if they want to spend thousands of pounds going all over the world to look at planes) although india is on high alert they should be looking for real threats more close to home

  • T. Varadaraj

    Until a few years ago, taking photos in planes and airports was prohibited in India(I remember a stewardess admonishing me for taking pictures of the plane's shadow on the clouds!). People need to understand that in India, the bureaucracy doesn't understand that there are people who simply like to watch and photograph planes. Also, India is one of the most terrorist prone countries in the world (there was one just a few weeks ago), so authorities are on a razor's edge. One of the masterminds of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai was an American so just because one doesn't look like the typical terrorist doesn't mean one wouldn't fall under suspicion. I would think twice about standing next to an airport and clicking away.

  • T. Varadaraj

    Until a few years ago, taking photos in planes and airports was prohibited in India(I remember a stewardess admonishing me for taking pictures of the plane's shadow on the clouds!). People need to understand that in India, the bureaucracy doesn't understand that there are people who simply like to watch and photograph planes. Also, India is one of the most terrorist prone countries in the world (there was one just a few weeks ago), so authorities are on a razor's edge. One of the masterminds of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai was an American so just because one doesn't look like the typical terrorist doesn't mean one wouldn't fall under suspicion. I would think twice about standing next to an airport and clicking away.

  • guest

    well, what is wrong with people and their hobbies!!!! why don't they go photograph birds or something? Especially after the recent attack in Pune, these two guys shouldn't have done it. Imagine what the cops would think about two guys demanding a hotel room facing the runway and trying to take pictures of planes!! c'mon.. gotta read the news!!!

  • guest

    well, what is wrong with people and their hobbies!!!! why don't they go photograph birds or something? Especially after the recent attack in Pune, these two guys shouldn't have done it. Imagine what the cops would think about two guys demanding a hotel room facing the runway and trying to take pictures of planes!! c'mon.. gotta read the news!!!