View Full Version : 3-31-14 SAT

2014-04-02, 02:31 AM
I had an encounter Monday afternoon with a ops. person and an security supervisor that left me dumbstruck. First a little history, the main runway was recently closed for repairs, this will last about 3 months which leaves only 1 runway for large aircraft, 4/22, at the approach end of 22 it has always been acceptable by Airport Police to watch/photograph aircraft as long as you park away from the perimeter fence. Plus there is a new greenway walk/bike trail just off the end of 22 which is good for spotting. So I started out there weeks back checking out the different areas along the trail and roadway, no issues, I noticed quite a few people viewing aircraft from the roadway so I started parking there with them, last Friday a total of 4 persons were there, APD drove by, waved and departed, another day earlier an Officer had stopped just to ask what I was doing and departed.

Monday a Operations 'agent' called me to the perimeter fence and asked if I was taking pictures, I stated I was, he asked if I get the tail number and what do I do with it, before I could answer fully he starts in with "you sell them to Airliners.net" I tried to tell him no one 'sells' photos to them, as far as I know, and tried to tell him that the APD is well aware of this area and my activities but he wouldn't even listen but before leaving he said something about there's an "angle" for why I'm there and he's gonna get to the bottom of it?. LOL give some one a badge and their gonna save the world!

20-30 minutes later I saw him talking to one of the airport security persons, he took off towards the main part of field and the security vehicle started rolling in my direction, I flagged it down and a lady who IDed herself as the Airport Security Supervisor stated I'm "tracking aircraft" and that is a security issue? She actually listened to everything I had to say but would not budge on her opinion, and that is all it is, an opinion! She couldn't back it up with any real ordinance or rule. Even when I told her about the top level of the parking garage being listed on the airports website as the official area for spotting, "still can't do it". So she asks me to leave, I told her no, I'm waiting on the Alaska Disney plane to come by. One thing I argued with her about was Google driving around documenting every fence, gate, and area of the perimeter and posting it, she wasn't aware of that, just my "tracking". I asked for her supervisors name which she provided and her business card so I could email her links to actual 'tracking sites' and sites like 'ordwatch' to try to show her everything she had told me is total BS and for her and the ops guy to "be careful" about making assuming accusations and violating peoples rights. She asked again if I would leave, again I told her no. About 20 minutes later APD comes out and shrugged his shoulders, said he had to come out because she called, talked to the other person that was eating dinner and watching planes then departed, no action.

Her supervisor is new here, according to the airports website he came from DFW/DAL, so I'm sure he is well aware of the hobby as DFW has Founders Plaza and I can't see someone like that coming here and implementing the mindset of these two. So a email went to him explaining what happened and I expressed concerns that some re-training for the two should be done and an apology is in order.

No answer from either email as of now, but I was out there in the same spot 4-1-14, same time. I saw 2 different Ops. vehicles drive by, didn't even look at me or slow done, same with APD. So who knows, maybe I'll show up one day and there will be "no parking" signs posted every where? I'll just go back to the greenway!:smile:

2014-04-03, 09:53 AM
Well no problems yesterday for several hours. Got a email response from the new Security Manager that's positive...
I want to thank you for emailing me your concern. First and foremost, I want to apologize to you for the inconvenience this has caused you. Iím very familiar with aviation enthusiast doing photography at airports. I worked at DFW and DAL for years; itís my experience this is a hobby that many people enjoy doing and come from all around the world to take pictures of aircraft. Also, itís been known for several years that aviation enthusiast have helped airport security and law enforcement in detecting and reporting suspicious activities at airports. As an airport security professional, I sincerely appreciate the help with keeping airports safe and secure.

Please allow me time to research your concern here at SAT. I want to check if SAT has a preferred location (similar to DFW) for such activities to take place. I will provide you a response within one (1) week.

Also, do not hesitate to contact me via the contact information below if you need anything else. Again, I apologize and hope to have a resolution to your concern real soon.

2014-04-03, 03:30 PM
Nice to have someone pretty much on your side to start now!!!

2014-04-03, 07:09 PM
Bravo, sir! So glad you refused to be inappropriately run off. You handled that real well, without getting out of hand about it and everything

2014-04-03, 08:55 PM
Bravo, sir! So glad you refused to be inappropriately run off. You handled that real well, without getting out of hand about it and everything
Thanks! Talking to that lady was like talking to a brick wall!

Nice to have someone pretty much on your side to start now!!!
It's very good with his experience with spotters, hopefully he can change some things!
Mark, I see a watch group just got started at MIA http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2014-03-23/news/fl-mia-watch-20140320_1_atapattu-miami-international-airport-fort-lauderdale-hollywood looks like that's becoming a trend, a good one!

2014-04-11, 02:21 PM
Received an email this morning as promised...

This is a follow-up to the email I sent you last week. I did some research in regards to approved locations at SAT for plane spotting and do not believe the area you were taking pictures of aircraft on March 31st is an issue. As you are aware, airports operate in an environment to ensure the security and safety of the traveling public and its airport users. This requires law enforcement officers, airport operations, and security personnel to perform regular inspections of the perimeter fence line ensuring the activities along the fence line will not compromise the security and safety of the airport.

I want to assure you, I have reviewed your concern with Airport Police, Airport Operations, and Security staff. I have another follow-up meeting in the next couple of weeks with Airport Police and Airport Operations to discuss plane spotting and review the current designated areas at SAT.

Should you have any further concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

2014-04-11, 03:15 PM
Nice reply from him!

Yes - the MIA watch is slowly getting off the ground - the official announcement is 4/30 when it will formally be introduced - watch NYCA as it will be covered here by a certain local who is also a member of the watch team!! ;)

2014-04-12, 02:39 PM
A couple from last evening before the sun set, all taxiing to 22 for departure.




2014-04-13, 03:32 PM
Obviously photos taken by a suspicious individual who should probably be closely watched by the TSA, NSA, BSA, and maybe even the SPCA... :smile:

Nice shots. I didn't know Southwest still had any of the "Herb-Turd" paint jobs left, or is that a retro paint job?

2014-04-13, 06:19 PM
Nice shots. I didn't know Southwest still had any of the "Herb-Turd" paint jobs left, or is that a retro paint job?
Thanks! I've seen a couple of the retro-style, one with the white borders around the windows, N714CB says "Classic" on the nose and another I've seen has Herb Kellers name on the nose but no white around the windows, N711HK

2017-01-12, 12:20 AM
Jan. 11,2017 update, Ofc. Boone of APD ran off the person with children watching aircraft parked behind me, then ID'ed me and ran me off after stating the reason has been in effect for over 10 years? I tried to have a conversation with him pleading my case that it is a public area approved by his supervisors, but he had his mind made up and I had to leave which I did, but did call APD and ask for a supervisor on duty. after 10 minutes a Sgt. came on and stated the same rule and said "Have you seen the news lately?"

Did something happen that I missed?

So another e-mail to the security director was sent asking for an explanation. What really pissed me off was when I got home I remembered I had a copy of the e-mail from Lt. Griffin stating i could be there at that location above my visor in vehicle

2017-01-12, 02:15 PM
If it's a public place like a city-owned park and the officer fails to provide an actual ordinance/law that you're breaking (the specific rule, not "have you seen the news lately?" or "because 9/11" or "the rule has been in effect for over 10 years"), you're under no compulsion to do anything.

Of course following through with a functional 'you can go screw yourself, officer' is another matter. It's exactly the type of thing you can wind up in a squad car for with a resisting arrest because you "talked back".

I'd take it up with the city and once again clarify with the airport. Or just show up with a printed (more than one, in case they take it from you) copy of the email from Lt. Griffin and see what happens.


2017-01-12, 06:31 PM
Did something happen that I missed?
The Maine, Pearl Harbor, Cuban Missile Crisis, 9/11, ordered his burger without onions and got onions? Each of them are equally valid excuses and totally invalid at the same time. A police officer is never ever ever going to admit that he's wrong, so in 99.9% of cases discretion is the better part of valor.

2017-01-12, 06:53 PM
Yeah...to add to that...if you're at the point where a LEO has told you to go or to move, you've almost certainly already lost. Nothing wrong with presenting your case politely and respectfully - I've won a few over that way, so it can be done. But most of the time (90%) it's already over. Call it a day and live to shoot for another one.

But the downside to spotting is that we always like to go to our same spots, and it's not uncommon for the same cop to have the same beat. And that's where it can become more problematic - they start to know you and you them. And so you get those "we've had this chat before, you can't be here...if I see you here again it'll be a citation for trespassing or an arrest". And if you do get either you should win in court down the road, but it'll come at a cost but personally (an arrest record) and financially (lawyers, court fees, etc). So I'd venture that approach the PD and the city and the airport is your best course of action. Contacting the ACLU can be a big help too.

2017-01-12, 07:53 PM
Yeah, you really gotta pick your battles, or at least your methods of them. What happened to you is total bull. But you have little to gain and everything to lose when pressing back against an actual cop (security can be another story). Often best to get outta there and follow up with their bosses or other officials.

2017-01-12, 10:49 PM
I agree with all your comments and will wait for a response from the security director like I did almost 3 years ago. It just seems weird that the last couple years have been great out there, most officers wave, a couple have stopped to talk for a few minutes, so this was a complete 180 from the norm.

2017-01-13, 10:21 AM
Every time there is a terror attack(or 2-3 in a short time span), the widespread reporting of them rolls back the mellow with the authorities and they go back to the "this is a code red alert" mindset. I'm pretty sure the FLL incident had everything to do with the disruption of what you've come to expect. The combination of what was probably mentioned several times in roll call("be on the lookout for anything suspicious", "anybody with no business at the airport gets booted") and the individual LEO's own sense of duty to protect their zone means that area is going to be hot for a while, unfortunately.

Definitely follow up with them though, make it well known who you are and your history of being there, show that email, show your work, etc. But I would wait a month or 2 or 3 before going again. That cop was thinking about FLL

2017-01-19, 09:01 PM
Well I hadn't received a response when I got home today and thought maybe he was on vacation or just didn't get it. i called his office and actually talked to him for 15 minutes, he said they have email problems and it might have gone to spam which he didn't check lately and said send it again and he did say he remembered me from 3 years ago! We did discuss what was going on at the airport and that is they have a new Commander of the Airport Police who actually is above Lt. Griffin and the general thinking is to move everyone up to the parking garage rather than by the perimeter fence which has been acceptable in the past. Additionally he did say that private property like the Cessna service center would be up to the owners (hasn't been an issue ever, we stay by the fire house side away from their ramp fence), also discussed public sidewalks by Signature, along the highway by the approach end of 12R and of course the grass area by 22/4 where i was asked to leave. Nothing has been set in stone yet as far as rules/ordinances so he couldn't give a yes or no answer as far as those areas, but I did kinda stress the public area issue from our point of view and threw in the idea of thinking of us as a watch program as he did mentioned the old 'see something, say something' program as being part of the reason. He did say he would get back to me as soon as they iron out what they want to do.

2017-01-19, 10:36 PM
I'll admit it grates on me the idea that they want to ban photography from public places, like sidewalks. That's just flat out illegal.

I'd seriously consider calling the ACLU for guidance. Though that can be a mixed blessing...folks at KBDL were getting harassed all the time and called in the ACLU. They wound up easily winning in favor of the spotters, got them regional press in big papers - but in the end the airport simply turned all the streets into no stop, no park zones.

2017-01-22, 10:00 PM
Went today a couple of times to the railroad tracks on Wetmore rd which parallels 4-22, the only runway open for airliners now, it's always been acceptable and it's really the only place on weekends for good AM light on that runway. A little after lunch a King Air came lower than usual for 30R, a gen-av runway, and we hear tires squealing and see a small SUV fish-tailing all over the road, over correct, hit the airport perimeter fence, then back out on the road into oncoming traffic almost having a head on collision. Both of us got shots of the Mercury Mariner and the plate before they departed . So I called airport Police to tell them what happened and the fence wasn't down but might be damaged, that turned into an interrogation about why we were there and what we were doing.

So after more than 15 minutes a security truck drove by on their property never stopping turned around then drove by again then departed. An APD unit drove by kept going turned around drove past never stopping, we just looked at each other like wtf, guess they don't care. 2 minutes later my friend said here's one coming to see us, so I start walking up with my camera to show him the photo of the vehicle and the part of fence that looked damaged and he says he is on a call for people taking pictures of airplanes! I told him that's us and I called APD for a vehicle hitting the fence. He asked for my ID and did what he had to do. Then the 1st Unit came back and took the report on the vehicle that hit fence and took off. Talked with both of them about how this is kind of ridiculous to get ID'ed for photography on non-airport property for seeing something and saying something that happened to airport property.

Me and my friend just laughed about it as thats probably the 1st time a spotter has called in himself!

2017-01-28, 01:25 PM
Monday I talked to Mr.Cole again, he said basically he had talked briefly with the new Captain of APD and that he stated he would talk to the officer from the previous incident as they aren't in the business of running people off of public property as long as no laws/ordinances are broken. He was very happy about getting the photos of the vehicle that hit the perimeter fence and other photos of some things that go on out there they arent aware of (racing on NE Entrance road). Still will have a meeting sometime in the future. So it was off to the airport to catch some late afternoon 22 action, upon arriving I saw a APD unit parked and asked if I could park near him and get some shots, he smiled and said not a problem take as many as you want! I later moved on the other side of the construction area due to dust from trucks and ran into another spotter who recently moved from Dallas and started working here recently at airport ops, we talked about alot of issues out there and from what he said its only going to get better out there for us!

Some pics from this week at that area...



2017-01-29, 06:14 PM
That sounds like some of the foolishness we see here at PHL on Hog Island Rd fro time to time, people driving recklessly and such. Got some nice light on those last few shots!

2017-01-30, 03:17 PM
That sounds like some of the foolishness we see here at PHL on Hog Island Rd fro time to time, people driving recklessly and such. Got some nice light on those last few shots!I think I've seen more downed streetlight poles on Hog Island than I've seen in the rest of my travels combined.