View Full Version : 8/13/06 - JFK

2006-08-13, 10:44 PM
Great weather today, and Nick, Eric, newbie Pete from NJ and I were out spotting. Rwy 31L/R was active, so we started at Costco, and were there for better than two hours without incident (Nick was across near Firestone earlier, and got checked out, but he can tell that story). They shifted to 13L arrivals, so we headed down to the AI cargo lot.

We were there probably an hour without incident, but at one point an elderly security guard from AI (who was working on his car in the lot) said something to us - I tried to approach him to hear what he said, but he turned and went back to the AI building. About 20 minutes later, two Port PD cars pull up to AI, the guys there (probably 4 at that point) point to us, and PD pulled over to us (about that time a third car joined them).

I approached them first, and the first officer, a female, upon exiting her car said "Guys, the days of taking pictures of airplanes are over!"

In a polite, innocent way I asked "Why is that?" I thought she was going to have a stroke :)

She said "Don't you read the papers?" (To me, in my Newsday hat!) I said "Yes, but what does that have to do with us taking pictures?"
We had a few more minutes of back and forth, definitely confrontational on their part. One of the officers saw Pete's scanner sitting on his car, and that got them excited. Nick and I both commented on the legality of what we were doing. They asked for ID from all of us, recording our info. They clearly knew why we were there, at one point she said "I know about the clubs, and you guys taking pictures, but this just isn't the time."

Once they saw we knew the law, and that we were going to be polite yet weren't going to be bullied, their attitude changed, she made a little joke about getting bored seeing airplanes every day at work, and finally she said "Guys, just give it a couple of weeks."

They returned Pete's radio, and asked us (more politely now) to move along, and said that we were on AI property. I replied that if AI wanted us off their lot, we would be glad to leave, they should have said something.

Strange thing - a little while before PD got there, two guys pulled in and parked near us - at first I thought they were spotters, but they didn't come over to see us, and they sat there, sort of watching the planes while talking. One of the Port PD officers did go over and check their ID, and also asked them to leave.

In the end, it worked out OK, but it sure didn't start that way. They clearly knew why we were there, but were using the recent activities in England as an excuse to come on strong. By remaining polite, yet standing our ground, we ended up with a decent resolution to the encounter.

2006-08-14, 02:19 AM
Quite interesting day. Before I met Eric and Moose I was at the Firestone lot. I first get some John Q Public come up to me in his car. He circled first and was actually smiling so I kind of thought it was Pete who was a newbie looking to meet up. Well it wasn't and I got the third degree, are you are a photographer? Why are you photographing planes? I finally gave him an indication I was getting pissed and he backed off and told me he was "just checking" and drove off. Less than 5 mins later NCPD shows and we start again with the "not a good idea" BS. I told them I wasn't doing anything wrong in which they got very defensive and said that they never said that. One officer says that I was being very "brash" in enjoying my hobby. I told him I disagreed and explained there was no reason to hide what I was doing since there is nothing wrong with it. They checked my ID and left. I decided to head to Costco since now everyone who was exiting the lot was staring since the fuzz had been talking to me and figured Costco would be less hot a location. Which was true, thought we were going to get through the rest of the day at the cargo area too until PA came. Moose was great because this huge woman PA officer really came on strong as soon as she got out of her prowler. I know the gestapo analogy is not popular here but that is exactly what we got today, I mean in the span of 10 mins we went from "The days of taking pictures of airplanes is over" to "give it a couple of weeks" I mean if that isn't bizarre then what is? What would of this woman have said if we acted scared and asked her if we were allowed to take pictures of planes? Would she have lied and said no? Pretty scary when you think about it. These officers play this game constantly, I am not sure what their motivation is but rather then treat us like law abiding citizens and approach us in a civil manner and ask for our ID and discuss the situation some have to take the approach we saw today where we have to stand our ground firmly to be treated with some civility. My hat is off to Moose who threw it right back at her and changed the whole tone of the encounter. What was more disturbing was that she also admitted she knew a little about what we do and that we had certain groups we belong to and such. Which leads you to believe she has had experience with us but still chooses to treat us like children.

2006-08-14, 07:54 AM
This kind of encounter surprises me a bit, considering that it's clear that these people are aware of our hobby (clubs are for treehouses, we're a community! lol), and still approached us in that way. It's unfortunate that they didn't realize that we wouldn't collapse to that kind of questioning.

Moose did a great job of exactly what I urge all to do...be absolutely respectful, follow the law, but stand your ground.

If possible, use cool buzz words like "the fuzz" and "prowler" like Nick uses. Maybe bang your fist on a juke box to listen to some cool Buddy Holly tunes at the same time. haha (We love you, Nick!)

But seriously, we should expect this type of behavior after thwarted attacks, or God forbid, actual attacks. I'm just glad it turned out as well as it did.

2006-08-14, 01:46 PM

Hey guys,

I had a great time yesterday, and it was a great pleasure meeting you all.

Above is a link to the article that I think is very informative and well researched...

Its a regular column written in salon.com by Patrick Smith called "Ask the Pilot"



2006-08-15, 03:01 PM
Hey Moose -

Excellent report and actions on your part over the weekend... much better than simply being "moved on" - so good on the officers as well - in the end at least.


2006-08-15, 03:04 PM
I see Tom's point. I don't want to just delete it and look as though I'm censoring.

If the threat-starter would like to edit this thread so that such sensitive info is not shown, that it fine. I'd be willing to delete the thread at his request, but I do think this is an interest story.

2006-08-15, 03:43 PM
Adjusted the thread title, and changed all my references to "AI" within the post. Thanks for the suggestion.

2006-08-15, 04:47 PM
dupe post.. TT .. :)

2006-08-21, 10:05 PM
Well done Moose.

And good write up Nick, no apologies needed.
Tell it like it is.

2006-08-22, 04:13 PM
And good write up Nick, no apologies needed.
Tell it like it is.

Glad Moose, Eric and Pete were there to see it as well. It was interesting to the say the least.

MOOSE 2008!