Aircraft or Plane spotting is a hobby dating back to WW-II and beyond. Almost every major airport in the world has its own group of spotters (locals as well as visitors to the city) who indulge in photographing planes, noting down registration numbers of planes or try to note peculiar characteristics of each type of plane, like trails left by it, noise type and levels, etc.
In recent times, especially after 9/11, city police in several cities across US and Europe have worked closely with these group of enthusiasts, to train and request them to also serve as another level of security/watch around airports and report any suspicious activity to them. When the 1st Emirates A380 landed at Pearson airport a few months back, GTAA even went to the extent of inviting a few of the regular spotters, inside the airport perimeter (from their usual perches outside fences) to photograph the massive jumbo.
Toronto Pearson Int'l Airport has its own loyal group of plane spotters who get a kick out of watching massive masses of steel float in over their heads. My 1st time plane spotting, involved quite a bit of prior planning, looking carefully at wind direction forecast by hour, schedules of arriving flights by hour, an initial scouting of recommended locations around the airport and finally carefully choosing and setting my lens and camera for medium speed jpeg (raw takes time to load before taking the next pic, so not recommended).
Another vital part of the prior (& during trip) prep involves listening to Air Traffic Control's live broadcast to arriving flights, to figure out exactly which approach runways are being used for the day (this can change depending on wind direction, flights always landing into an opposing wind). Here's a link to listen into Pearson ATC's live broadcast YYZ-Live ATC broadcast.
I listened to it for a full day to get myself acquainted with their lingo, at least to the extent I could get my info. Also it's sometimes really interesting to hear the exchanges between the ATC personnel and pilots.
Pearson Airport has 5 runways, with each end of a runway numbered separately, so there can be 10 approaches to the airport. Three run East-West (because the wind direction in the city is usually east-west or west-east) and two run North-South (for those odd times when the wind in the city acts totally weird). Runway 23 (or 5 from opposite end) is the longest of them all.
And luckily plane spotters have some really good locations on both ends, marked by two Wendy's restaurants, which have become kind of the de facto meeting place for spotters.
This was my 1st time on a plane spotting trip and it's really amazing to see the number of people (young & old, men & women) who are into this hobby, enjoying themselves on a bright sunny day, by the sides of the airport, like little kids wowed by every approaching hunk of flying steel.
Keeping track of schedules of big jumbo jets (as well as smaller and more beautiful embrair or bombardier jets) is critical to this hobby. Right now the most prized arrivals is that of the Airbus A-380's which come thrice per week, all on workdays, between 3-4pm :-(
But weekends have their share of big size planes as well, like the Boeing 777's & smaller Airbuses.
Night shots of the planes would be interesting as well as, maybe night plane trail photography from other locations around Pearson. Keep checking on this link as I'll try those in future and upload them into this set.