Every aviation enthusiast has a list of airplanes that they really want to see. Sometimes it’s a certain type that we’re after. Or it can be a particular airline or livery (or both). Some hard-core spotters seek specific tail numbers. For me, it is a mix of these things.
I would dearly love to see an A380. It’s not going to happen at my airport – I’d have to go elsewhere. I would also love to see a B747-8 up close. They fly into the cargo airport but I just haven’t been able to coordinate my schedule to make it down there to see one. We do get lots of special liveries though. Both Southwest and American have several of them. Even Delta and United have a few.
With all the hours I spend at airports, you’d think that chasing down specific liveries wouldn’t be much of a challenge. Wrong! For one thing, I’ve got pretty strict rules. I have to see the plane where I work – another airport doesn’t count. The plane needs to be taxiing, taking off or landing, and I need to witness it either from the ramp or up on the garage. The bigger issue, however, is that certain airplanes are deliberately hiding from me.
American Airlines TWA & Reno Air Liveries
To my great sadness, American has been retiring the mighty Mad Dog at a rapid pace. If there is any consolation, however, it’s that they are sending B737s (rather than more A319s) to replace them. This means that some special liveries which were previously out of my reach are now within the realm of possibility. Recently I happened to get lucky enough to catch American’s One World livery as it was landing. I figure at some point TWA and Reno Air will make an appearance. Hopefully I’ll be watching when they do!
American Airlines America West Livery
I have seen this airplane a time or two… but always at the gate or hiding behind a fence. For some reason it doesn’t visit my airport very often. A few months ago it was scheduled to fly out just after I finished work for the day. Perfect! But then it delayed and delayed and delayed. It wasn’t until I gave up and headed for my car that it finally pushed back. It taunted me by taxiing onto the runway at the exact moment I happened to drive by.
Delta SkyTeam livery
If the America West special livery plane is elusive, Delta SkyTeam is worse. I recently discovered that this wily plane has been sneaking in and out of my airport for quite some time. It flies in late at night then hurriedly takes off shortly before I arrive. I had no clue this was going on until a coworker told me about it. Sure, show up for the coworker but hide from me! Totally uncool, Delta SkyTeam!
This airline has been taunting me relentlessly for years. Like the Delta SkyTeam livery, it conveniently flies in when I’m not around. On the rare occasion that it shows up while I’m at work, it always parks at the one gate I can’t see. Or it parks at the FBO and positions itself in such a way that I can’t get a good look at it, no matter what vantage point I try.
A few months ago I noticed Miami Air on the scheduled charter list, and much to my joy it was supposed to arrive right around my lunch time. Hooray! Then the flight was delayed. So I delayed my lunch. But then it was delayed some more. And some more. And wouldn’t you know I had a meeting that afternoon? Clearly Miami Air knew. Not only did it land after the meeting started, but it performed the world’s fastest turn-around and departed before the meeting ended. Did I mention the meeting was only ONE HOUR long? Well played, Miami Air. You may have won this round but I’m not giving up!
Every once in a while I happen to stumble across a cool livery that almost (but not entirely) makes up for all those planes I haven’t been able to see (yet). Such was the case when United’s Star Alliance stopped by. Not only did it park at a gate where it was easy to see, but it taxied out on time and took off right in front of me. Thank you so much, Star Alliance!
As for the planes on my most wanted list, well I’m in meetings all day next Wednesday, so I’m sure they’ll pick that day to fly in. (OK, actually I don’t have any meetings. Don’t tell them that!)
7 thoughts on “Stalking Airplanes”
I’m not even sure it’s legal for a person to be having that much fun at an airline terminal. Don’t you know you’re supposed to be grumpy all the time and complain about the crowds, lines, poor customer service, and delays?? 🙂
Glad you’re enjoying the many small details of aviation. As someone once said, eventually you learn that the little things in life were really the big things…
As always, thanks so much, Ron! I probably shouldn’t mention that I got out of work early today then spent over an hour just hanging around because airplanes are awesome… 😉
LikeLiked by 1 person
I hope that you see Alaska Airlines at your airport soon!
I hope so too! I would love that!!!
Hi! I just found your blog and I couldn’t help but smile when I saw how you wanted to see an A380. I actually flew on one, LAX to CDG (not the flight that had an engine failure over the Atlantic, thank goodness) and it’s safe to say I was “geeking out” the whole time. I hope you get to see one someday!
Thanks for reading Emilia! I’m so jealous that you got to fly on a 380. How cool is that! I do hope to at least see one some day.
Just catching up on your blogs & stumbled across this one. I feel your pain at missing some of these, I can TOTALLY relate! Reminded me of back in 1988 when USAir was merging with PSA & PI. They had several test livery’s flying around trying to decide what to change to. They had 1 on a DC-9-31 that I’d heard about & seen a couple photos of. It was finally scheduled into “Our Airport” according to the ship routing. I was ready with my camera, the weather was turning dark & overcast and it finally landed! Oh My Gosh was I disappointed and upset! Just days before this they had apparently given up on that livery and painted it BACK to the regular livery! I was so upset and depressed I could hardly work the flight. My 1 chance to shoot it and I was too late. I could see just a very small remnant of the test livery over the emergency exit to verify it had been on THAT plane but what a disappointment.