Why I Don’t Go To The Airport To Watch Planes Take Off

by joeheg

I know a group of people love to go to the airport and look at all the planes take off and land. That’s the reason why airports have viewing decks and why some people will ask for an airport view when staying at an airport hotel.

The TWA Hotel at JFK Airport charges more for the rooms that face the runway for this very reason. Other travelers will take a bus or even walk from LAX to the nearby In-N-Out Burger, which has an excellent view of all incoming airline traffic.

In the most extreme example, travelers will go Maho Beach in St Maarten and see the planes take off and land right overhead.

While that looks like fun yet somewhat dangerous, I’m not going out of my way to see a plane.

It’s not because I don’t like planes or that I’m not fascinated with seeing them. It’s because I’ve been doing it my entire life.

I grew up in a house that was 15 minutes away from Newark Airport. I knew that when I heard a plane, I could look up and see it passing by (due to the lag in the sound reaching the ground.)

When I moved from New Jersey to Florida, I unknowingly rented an apartment on the flight path to Tampa Airport. I could sit on my balcony and look at the planes flying by.

By this time, airplane noise was white noise to me. I didn’t even hear it unless it caught my attention.

When Sharon and I moved to Orlando, we took time finding the “perfect” house. We did a good job and love where we live. It also happens to be right on the flight path to MCO.

I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

As we were outside taking down Christmas decorations last week, I stood on the lawn and watched as the planes passed overhead. Instead of ignoring them, I took the time to watch each one as it went. I remembered how it felt almost two years ago when I noticed that no planes were flying overhead when taking our dog for a walk and how strange that felt. That’s the things a global pandemic will make you remember.

I decided to snap a few pictures of the planes flying overhead. And yes, this is what the sky looks like in Florida in early January (sorry, not sorry.)

I quickly found out with the FlightAware app that this was Spirit 1286 flying from DFW to Orlando. Midafternoon is the time of day that we’re on the path of arriving flights.

I was ready for the next plane and caught this slightly better picture without the trees blocking it.

That’s DL 2208 arriving from Atlanta flying about 4,000 feet above our house.

Like clockwork, another plane flew overhead every 5-10 minutes. Until the traffic stopped. Maybe the wind shifted, or it was simply a lull in the schedule but then there was nothing.

I wasn’t worried because if I wanted to see planes, I know that red-eye flights to Orlando favor the path above our house as I’ll occasionally hear flights from LAX, LAS or SEA making their approach between 5 and 6 AM.

So while I understand why people feel the need to search out the best spot to watch planes, I’m happy to stand on my front yard and look at the sky.

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