As planespotting takes flight on social media, it is uplifting people, hobbyists

This is not merely unique to Thiruvananthapuram. It is a popular hobby wherever there are airports.
People gather at Kallumkoottam viewpoint in Kochi to watch a flight landing
People gather at Kallumkoottam viewpoint in Kochi to watch a flight landing Photo | Courtesy: Instagram

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: At Ponnara Palam, near Vallakkadavu, the roar of airplane engines has become more than just noise. The spot has become a hub for planespotters, mostly youngsters, who gather here to track the paths of planes. They are eager to watch flights land and take off. Some track them using mobile applications, while others capture moments and share them on social media.

This is not merely unique to Thiruvananthapuram. It is a popular hobby wherever there are airports.

“The more you watch aircrafts, the more you want to know about them,” says Gowtham Pramod, a Kochi-based graphic designer.

In Kochi, the Kallumkootam viewpoint has long been a favourite. Round the clock, crowds can be seen gasping at the approaching aircraft. You can even hear some identify the airline: Vistara, Qatar, Emirates, etc. The ones that track flights sometimes announce the landing of their favourites.

The trend of planespotting is growing with many turning their passion into content. For these hobbyists, it’s not just about watching planes, but also documenting and sharing the experience.

The hobby offers a chance to connect with fellow spotters and share the passion.

For Midhun Joseph, a photography student in Kochi, planespotting is an escape. “It’s a form of relaxation. Going out with friends and watching planes in the wee hours is calming.”

“The howling of aircraft is kind of cathartic as it breaks the silence and fills us with pride,” notes Sruthy P, an English literature student.

The community is not just about personal satisfaction. It’s also about educating the public. Plane Spotters Kerala, an informal group of enthusiasts, has been active for nearly five years. From its beginnings as a Facebook group, the collective now conducts photography exhibitions and educates people on trends in the aviation industry.

“In 2017, at Thiruvananthapuram airport we installed a sign that spells out TRV -- the IATA code of the airport. The idea was inspired by the LAX installation at Los Angeles airport. It was the first of its kind in India and has since sparked a trend at many other airports,” said Prakash Sankar, president of Plane Spotters Kerala.

Social media has given planespotting a new dimension. Instagram reels featuring aircraft can garner thousands of views, turning what was once a niche hobby into a widely seen one.

Planespotters edit and post videos like other hobbyists. At Ponnara Palam and beyond, the skies are no longer just a passageway for flights. They are a canvas for many to explore, document, and share their love for airplanes.

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