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Thread: How Did You Become an Aviation Enthusiast?

  1. #1
    Administrator PhilDernerJr's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    Queens, NY

    How Did You Become an Aviation Enthusiast?

    I ask this question about once a year, and even the repeat stories are always great, on top of all of our new members.

    What got you into aviation? What steps and pieces brought you into the hobby as you enjoy it today?
    Email me anytime at [email protected].

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Well.....As a kid there was just something about airliners that captured my attention. I built models, collected diecast replicas, and any airline merchandise I could get my hands on. When we would go to the bookstore my parents couldn't tear me away from the aviation section and would always make them buy me a new book about airliners. There was actually a time back when I was in the 5th grade that my social studies teacher would actually stop class teaching class because he remembered a story about airplanes and sit there and tell me in front of the whole class. And when I would go to visit my grandparents for the summer in Islip every year their house was directly in the approach path for McArthur (back in its hayday) and there seemed to be endless traffic over the house. If anybody was looking for me then, they could usually find me perched i nthe front window of house or sitting on the front lawn watching for planes. And when I couldn't see anything flying into McArthur, I had my binoculars looking out into the distance where I could see the pattern for JFK. It was these momentsthat sparked my desire to become an airline pilot one day....

    I had even signed up to go into the service when in high school so I could go through college and become a pilot through the military. Sadly though towards the end of high school my love of cars, girls and hanging out kind of made my grades take a turn south and I passed on the military and college. After going through a long deadend relationship I finally had time to enjoy the things I always have a few years ago and I picked up photography after giving it up for a long time. While searching online for some photography tips I stumbled upon NYCAviation in a search engine and started viewing the threads from guys spotting at JFK and the area airports. One look at those and all the memories of my childhood love of aviation came back and I would spend hours at work looking through and and the forum on this very site. It was that that made me decide to go on my first spotting adventure and I've never looked back since.
    Steve Furst

    View my work @

    Furst Edition Photography

  3. #3
    Senior Member Delta777LR's Avatar
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    Sep 2006
    Poughkeepsie, New York, United States
    i started getting into aviation from my dad when i was 7 years old, my dad traveled around the world for many years, i started getting into planes.. My dad took me to go watch the planes approaching 22 at LGA from Soundview in the Bronx when i was that young, seeing many planes that are no longer around like Pan Am 727s, TWA 727s, L-1011, MD-80/DC-9s, Trump Shuttle just to name a few. Pan Am was the first airline i flew on when i was 3, and it was the first airline ive ever heard of for me, and became my favorate, until i started liking the black nose of DL when i was young, I got my first Delta model, an MD-11 when i was 10 years old. my mom also used to get me aviationweekly magizines and i studied aviation around that time, ive gotten books as well, also i got more and more with aviation from my uncle, witch he also has enthusiast for planes. My dad took me on trips on planes as well, flying on NWA to MSP in 92 on an A320 and DC-9, 96 came, he took me to Zurich on Swissair 743 from JFK and on a A310 to EWR, one week before TWA800 went down. i started taking photos at LGA when i was 14 years old, JFK a year later.. My uncle also took me to 2 Airliner International events 2 years in a wow. 2000 was at Pheonix, and a year later to Miami. i did much spotting with a 35mm camera since then, and 2006 came, i joined, to meet other spotters, and learn more about photography and infomation.. and i got my DSLR in 2008, and since then, getting my images to Anet and JP.. I continue to keep aviation in my blood for all time being...
    Sergio has been a huge Delta Air Lines fan since 1992!!

    Sergio Cardona

  4. #4
    Senior Member megatop412's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Philadelphia(south Jersey, actually)
    When I was in 4th grade we were going to go to Disneyworld, this was 1983, and for some unknown reason I asked my Dad what kind of plane we were going to take down there. He told me it would be a "DC-9". I had no idea what that was but I remembered there was a book in the school library about airliners. I went to find it but someone had checked it out. So I started looking for other books I could find and within a couple months I knew about all these different planes. The book actually didn't get returned for several months- I guess that was fate working so that I would read a bunch of other books in the meantime(it was such an old book it proclaimed the Super DC-8 as the largest jetliner in the sky on one page, and the next page was a split between the "proposed" 747 and the 733/2707 SST complete with artist conceptions). I still have those pages I copied out of the book.

    The next year we were going to LA and took a TWA L-1011 EWR-STL, and at STL I found myself on the flight deck of our connection to LAX, a TWA 747-100. I remember telling the pilots that it was my favorite plane, and knowing this they let me read some of the checklist items out loud with the FO responding. That was without a doubt the greatest moment of my childhood and I was convinced, as in Steve's story, that I was going to be an airline pilot. In a similar fashion though, it was not to be as I instead got into music and played in several bands throughout high school and college. Before the internet came around, I didn't know anyone else who liked aviation so that pretty much made me a bit of an outcast and being a metal guitarist helped me in the ladies department so...that's how that happened. Ironically, I later met Joe Pries and learned he went to the next high school over from mine(Lawrence).

    Eventually I came back around to aviation when I picked up a copy of Airliners on a connection through DCA in '97, and before I knew it I was standing in the Costco lot with my Nikon FM2 and 70-210 zoom. Soon I picked up on the internet community of people like yourselves and now at least I have some company when I'm out there. I thought I was into it until I met those of you that are able to recite individual aircraft movements and histories, that blows my mind!

    My Dad flew 31 missions over Nazi Germany and occupied Europe in B-24's in the 8th AF in '44, and was a huge influence on my interest in aviation. We talked about planes all the time, and had discussed how ridiculously large the A380 was going to be shortly before he passed away. We laid him to rest with military honors at Pinelawn on March 19, 2007 as the A380 prototype flew over on its inaugural arrival into JFK.

    Have a great Thanksgiving,

    William Rizzo

  5. #5
    Senior Member Idlewild's Avatar
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    Dec 2005
    At 13 years of age I went on my first airplane ride ever to London from NYC for my grandfather's funeral. I had the very last/rear window seat on a BA Super VC-10 - I done became hooked!
    Spotters have been Homeland Security before HS was a glimmer in the president's eye.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Speedbird1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    New York City
    I always loved when I saw planes fly overhead while we were driving on the Belt as a kid. I really got into spotting due to the Concordes' arrival back in Nov '77. I became obsessed with this beauty and then my love spread to 747s, DC10s, and L10s. I started using scanners and hanging-out at airports. My favorite spots were the old PanAm roof and the hill north of Rwy22L. Spotting is harder now but I still love it. Now, I am a senior and spot less often but the excitement whenever I see a new aircraft I never saw before makes my heart pound. I wish I had a car so I could visit the recommended places for spotting.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2005
    I've been near the two NY airports all my life. I was born underneath the approach to rwy 31 at LGA. My Grandparents house was also right under rwy 31 arrivals into LGA, every few minutes or so a jet would come screaming over head and I would get a quick glimpse as it went by. I could sit there for hours.
    I ended up growing up not to far away from the approach to JFK's 22's. As I do now, when I was younger I spent a lot of my time in the 5 towns area. My other Grandparents live right around the corner from NW Park, I played little league there. I went to summer camp between rwy 31R/31L and every morning like clock work Air France concorde would land on the left and British on the right. In the early 90's a camp counselor of mine introduced me to something called a scanner where you could actually listen to to the airplane communications, lets just say i was hooked. And finally with the emergence of digital photography my Aviation Photography passion was born.

    And as I type this a Copa 737 just flew over at 3000ft.
    It's hard to take chances but sometimes it's better if you do
    On Twitter @southpawcapture

  8. #8
    Senior Member 727C47's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
    all i ever wanted to do was be a pilot, i was schooled on Ernie Gann,and St.Ex, and considered myself blessed to earn my tay for 10 years in the front office of the DC3,where my brothers,sisters,and I hand flew the globe from 9000 feet ,battering our way through wind and weather, crossing oceans (once !), and carrying everything from baby chicks to AMRAAM missles,and Emerson,Lake and Palmers instruments,and amps,when they sold my DC3 fleet from underneath me back in '97 ,i soft landed into the CV340 another big prop, but the question was how did i become an aviation enthuiast, I was just born that way, God's grace,under the Canarsie approach just in time to catch the last of the big props,and be lulled to sleep by the scream of the straight pipe turbojets of all those black smoke 707s,DC8s, CV880,990s and the coke bottle whooosh ! of the BOAC VC10s and their Rolls Royce Conways,JFK was,is,and always will be my field of dreams,again God's grace I get to call that concrete home again now in the 747-400F, I am a stone geek,hopefully our paths will cross, cheers brothers !!!
    The beehive hummm of the JT9D and GE CF680C2,the thunder of the JT8D-17,the rumble of the PW1830 and the high ,thin whine of the PW 545A are all music to my ears!

  9. #9
    Senior Member RomNYC's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Away from home
    I'm not as hardcore an enthusiast as most people here, but it started very simply: when I first tasted some jet blast in SXM back in 1996. I was sold!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Aviation.High.Guy's Avatar
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    Dec 2012
    Long Island, NY
    The bug bit me when I was a little kid and my dad was art director for a now defunct magazine called "Space Aeronautics". He used to bring home all kinds of great photos of airliners and spacecraft. I went on to Aviation High School in Long Island City, NY and the rest is history.
    -Don B.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Henderson, NV
    Ever since I was a child in elementary school, I've been interested in aviation. I remember as a kid even, a relative of mine said he was going to be flying someplace on an Eastern 747, and I knew that EA didn't fly 747's at that point. Ironicaly enough, my first flight was on an Eastern L1011 in February 1975 JFK-MCO and we took off in a pretty decent snowstorm and had to be de-iced prior to departure. I had a window seat on the right hand side just in front of the wing and my mom was sitting next to me.Upon taking off I got scared and made my mom switch seats on the climb out Ever since then, it's been almost impossible to pry my nose away from the window on every flight I take.
    My name is Disco Stu and I love disco music.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Zee71's Avatar
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    Jan 2010
    Queens, NY
    Since my early teens I've always been interested in aviation. I would cut out all sorts of aircraft photos from magazines and newspapers which I would then scotch tape in a scrap book. I was always thrilled to sit at my bedroom window and watch aircraft break out of the low ceiling when on an ILS approach for 13L. I even bicycled to remote places by Aqueduct just to watch arrivals for 13L. During my high school days after class I would take the Green Line Bus to JFK and head straight for the Pan Am Terminal which one of my school mates (who's dad was a 747 Captain for Lufthansa during those days). I spend countless hours watching from the rooftop. Just like others I too wanted to be a pilot, and was hoping to attend the Air Force Academy but things changed. I was thrill when we went on a family vacation back to our homeland in 1977. We flew there and back on a LOT IL-62..........I was glued to the window. For this trip my dad got me my first 35mm SLR (it was a Mamiya), and I was hooked on photography as well. During my college days I worked at JFK for one of the aviation service companies (Allied Aviation). The job was laborous and demanding, but I enjoyed every moment of being out on the ramp with those metallic birds. Every time that a Concorde was getting ready to take off, I would make sure to position myself on the ramp to get the best view possible, and the sensation and sight were fantastic. I miss those days! Everytime I see a contrail or hear noise from a passing aircraft, I always look up to the sky. Finally when digital photography became more mainstream, my passion for photography and aviation become more obsessive. It wasn't long ago when my sister was watching the news and saw a segment with Al Roker and NYC Aviation. She told me about it and the rest is history as they say. I thought I was the only nut who liked aviation that much, and to find out there was a community of individuals as passionate about aviation thrilled me even more. Thanks to Phil and Matt (RIP) for pioneering a place such as this for all of us.
    Queens, NY

    My website:
    My photos at: JetPhotos and ANet

  13. #13
    Senior Member gonzalu's Avatar
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    May 2009
    The Bronx, New York
    I was born and grew up in a small town in Cuba near the headquarters for the Cuban Air Force, San Antonio de los Baños Air Base (still in use today I believe) with MiG 15s, 17s, 19s and I believe 21s but unclear ... even MiG 23s up until 1979 when I left to come to the US... constantly flying in and out. Interestingly, my town and the above mentioned base, were primary launch sites for Soviet IRBMs of the Cuban Missile Crisis. I may have never been born had that incident gone "nuclear"

    Here is a current satellite image of the base

    You can see the fighter bunkers to the north west of the base and the tell-tale "V" shaped ramps and taxiways leading to the runway.
    Manny Gonzalez
    Thrust Images | General Photography | R.I.P. Matt Molnar 1979-2013

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2005
    When I was growing up in China, the only aviation I could see was the local sky diving team practicing. The slow An-2 bi-plane would fly slowly over our apartment building on its way to jump site, and you kept your sight on it, you could eventually see small dots falling out from it and later the parachutes open up.

    The first plane ride I had was when I was 10 between CAN and SHA and it was on a CAAC Trident. On that day there were also old Russian prop liners (likely IL-14 and IL-18) on the tarmac. I remember their engines were so loud and the glasses in the terminal were vibrating when they started their engines. I still have some memory of the Trident flight, like the fact that we had to use stairs to get on the plane under the looming T-tail; the flight attendants served hot tea using hot tea pot every family had (definitely not imported from the UK); and as we approached SHA, everyone received a pack of candy so one could chew and reduce the pressure in the ears. Everyone also got one CAAC key chain. The candies were wrapped in CAAC candy wrap. So the key chain and the candies were great show-off items in the school later on.

    My father flew a few times for business on CAAC. He told me the noisy flights on board the Russian prop liners. He flew the 707 once between PEK and SHA and said the US plane was light years ahead of the noisy Russian ones. I think my love of aviation grew from his stories and my Trident experience.

    When our family moved to US, we were on a CAAC 747SP. The route was SHA-SFO-JFK. I was very impressed with the extensive food service -- you got a cold apertizer, a hot main dish, cheese, bread, and a piece cake, and everything was wrapped in foreign labels -- we never had so much western food in one sitting before. Later, the flight attendants left a drink trolley near to stair case for all the passengers. At that time, most Chinese only knew Coke. So I heard some adults analyzing a green can with 7 and UP on it. Their conclusion was it must be coffee as there was a word of 'Caffeine' on it. So I never tasted it until month later :-).

    When we transited thru SFO, it's the first time I was awed by the US aviation. In China it's only reserved for the elite and there were just handful flights each day in SHA, and most of the CAAC fleet were Russian types. At SFO, one can see endless 727, 737, DC-9 mixed with DC-10/L-1011 taking off and landing. I saw the Eastern 757 with '757' on the tail -- it's considered state-of-the-art in the late 80's. The airport was full of ordinary people getting on and off the planes.

    Our family actually lived in Far Rockaway for a while; at the corner of Mott Ave and Gibson Ave. The neighborhood was tough and scary at times, but I was in aviation heaven, witnessing the constant arrival and departure of heavy jets from all over the world. Depending on which runway was in use, our classes at Far Rockaway HS would pause for a minute or two when the Concorde took off over the school. Going to TSS shopping center (Costco today) or Pathmark on Rockaway Blvd was just part the regular shopping necessity; and while my parents shopped, I would stay in the car and watch the planes.

    After I started working, I bought my first 35 mm point and shoot camera and took airplane pictures from inside the terminal whenever I fly. Then around 2000 I found I bought my first Canon SLR and went back to my old neighborhood to take pictures. Around 2004, I went digital by upgrading to the 10D. I also started to meet local enthusiasts both virtually and in person. So this is the long story, from SHA to JFK.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
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    Sep 2006
    A word to the wise...keep it under your one is to know...
    Quote Originally Posted by gonzalu View Post
    I was born and grew up in a small town in Cuba near the headquarters for the Cuban Air Force, San Antonio de los Baños Air Base...
    Saint Anthony of the bathrooms?!?!?! LOL
    R.I.P. Matt Molnar 1979-2013


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