ATCpilot blog & news

G20 Summit 2017 in Hamburg, Germany

Today was a very special event, maybe a "once-in-a-lifetime"-opportunity for many spotters from all over the world to see some very interessting governmental jets in a single place.


The twenty richest countries come together these days for the G20 summit 2017. The weather was great on the day of arrival and so we had the chance to take hundreds of great photographs.


Todays' traffic: 7 Boeing 747-Jumbojets including Air Force One, Japan Airforce and Korean Air Force, 3 Airbus A310's from Canada, France and Spain as well as many more highlights such as a Vietnam 787-9.


The only thing we were sad about was the late arrival of Mexico's Dreamliner and the Russian fleet after sunset. All in all a great day of planespotting - enjoy the photographs :-)

Working on an aviation photobook...

Once again I would like to thank Saal-Digital for a voucher to create a photobook. Together with my friend Christian, I am working on publishing an aviation book in early 2018. With the product of Saal-Digital, I was able to test first layouts and prints.


The print quality is very good and the book feels great in the hands. Also, there is a very good and easy design software which helped a lot. Check out their products and stay tuned for more information about our book. Furthermore, we are working on the Airliners 2018 wallcalendar which will be published in less than two months!

One Day at Frankfurt Airport (Tag der Luftfahrt 2017)

My day started in the early morning. I always wanted to try that spot near the taxiway connecting the northern runway with the airport. Therefore, I had to get up very early. Light is best at about 6:30 am in summer. Seeing the results, it was definitely worth it - a great new perspective.


When some clouds came in I moved over to the fire brigade for the landings on runway 25R and later on to the event which took place on the southern apron in "Cargo City Süd" called "Tag der Luftfahrt 2017" / Aviationday.


The airport had some nice aicraft on display including a Lufthansa Airbus A380, the Flying Bulls Douglas DC-6 as well as many old single engine aircraft like the T-6, Boeing Stearman or Dornier Do27. 


ALL PHOTOS FRA/EDDF 24.06.2017 :

"Tag der Bundeswehr 2017"

The Faßberg airshow on the "Tag der Bundeswehr" was a well organized event. Over 30.000 visitors came to see the German Air Force and German Army perform. A nice flying display together with many static displays including Chinooks and Apaches from the Royal Dutch Air Force made it an unforgettable event for planespotters and families! My personal highlight was the Geilenkirchen-based NATO E-3 AWACS with a low pass and the flying display of the Eurofighter. I am excited for next year.

Amsterdam Part 2 - from sunrise to thunderstorm...

I was facing a heavy thunderstorm with diversions to Groningen and Brussels after the beautiful sunrise. Luckily wetaher got better again and I had the chance to see many highlights such as the "Orange Pride" and the Asian A350's from China Airlines and Singapore Airlines. All in all a great trip to Amsterdam - again :)

Once a year to Amsterdam... - Day 1

On very short notice, I decided to drive to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on a sunny weekend to check out some new highlights I havent had the chance to take a photo from yet. China Airlines connects the Netherlands and China with their brand new Airbus A350, I still havent had the chance to see KLM's Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and also some special colored airframes such es the "Orange Pride" were still missing on my list. After a three-hour ride I started at the Polderbaan with the 18R arrivals of Surinam's Airbus A340 and Iranair with it's Airbus A300. 

All in all I drove almost 200 km around the airport because of frequent runway changes as well as my wish to test new perpectives and angles. Below you can see some of them, such as the taxiway connectong the airport with the western runway 18R/36L.


One thing I really like about Schiphol is the majority of aircraft being heavies. Also, it is a paradise for spotting the Boeing 747 Jumbojet. I hope you enjoy the pictures below :-) Stay tuned for Part 2...

Planespotting @ Airbus Plant Finkenwerder EDHI/XFW and Hamburg Airport EDDH/HAM


UPDATE: Becoming witness of a Westjet Boeing 737 near crash @ St. Maarten

A dream came true when I landed in St. Maarten on 7th of march, just about one week ago. Maho Beach is famous in all over the world. Planes get very close to the beach landing into Princess Julina Airport TNCM. The runway starts just a couple meters from the beach, giving a great photo opportunity for planespotters.


Even though the weather was not very good after our arrival at the hotel, first thing I did was checking flightradar24 for inbound traffic. I saw a Westjet Boeing 737 with a special Disney-painting 30 minutes from the Island, which I definitely wanted to get on camera. So I grabbed my backpack and walked over to the sunset bar, when a rainy storm came in. Clouds dropped down to about 1500 - 2000 feet. When the Westjet came out of the clouds I saw the airframe descending very low, being maybe one mile out from threshold. The pilots perfomed a go around just a few feet over the water. Assuming a normal descend rate of 700 feet per minute on the approach, the Boeing was just seconds away from hiting the water. Everybody at the sunset bar was shocked but then relieved when the pilots performed the go around. 


The crew entered a holding over the airfield and performed another approach about 45 minutes later for a safe landing. The flight 2652 from Toronto was just over 4 hours enroute before the incident happended. Here is the video I took from the approaches:


Meanwhile the video can be found on various news channels around the world including "The Sun", "Daily Mail", "Forbes" and "the Telegraph". Copyright remains with ATCpilot though. To use this video in a commercial player or in broadcasts, please email since licensing fees may apply.

Stay tuned for my planespotting photos from Maho Beach and St. Barths, which I will upload in the following days and weeks. You can also follow me on Instgram (@atcpilot_photography) and Facebook (ATCpilot) .

UPDATE 03/22/2017: Passenger video "Oh my god we are so low"

Today, received new footage concerning Westjet flight 2652, showing the perspective of a passenger. You wont see much unfortunately because the camera focus was set on the window itself, but you will definitely hear the engines of the Boeing 737 spooling up. Go-Around-thrust was set even later then I thought. The descend was stopped by adding just a bit of thrust in the critical moment. Take-Off-Go-Around or TOGA-power was set when reaching the beach.


I still would rate this as a serious incident. Draw a line from the airframe to the shadow on the water in the image above. It  must have been a height of 50-100 feet (wingspan of a 737 is 111 feet). The normal descendrate of a Boeing 737 is about 700 feet per minute on a normal 3° glide path. After leaving this glide path at about three to four miles final, the rate of descend must have increased to maybe 1000 feet per minute. Putting that together, pilots were 3 to 6 seconds away from a catastrophe if they had not added sufficient power to stop descend.


Here is the passenger video of which ATCpilot holds all the necessary rights. However, the passenger filming does not want to be named. 


Japan Air Force One & Two landing in Hanover on 19.03.2017

It was cold, raining and their arrival was predicted for sunset... I even thought about not going to the airport at all to see the Japanese Jumbo's land. But in the end I am quite happy to have seen Japan Air Force One, since it will be replaced by a Boeing 777 quite soon. It could be one of the last visits in Germany. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to Hanover to see Angela Merkel for the opening of the international IT-fair CeBIT 2017. Please find a video and some photos below :)


Photoprint on Aluminum-Dibond from Saal-Digital

I was invited by Saal Digital to test their photoprints and decided to order a 40 cm x 60 cm "aluminum-dibond" print. Never heard of that method before, but it is cheaper than printing on acrylic glass for example. Shipping was very fast and I have to say, although the colors seem to be not 100 % true, I am very satisfied with the result. The printed aluminum came with a suspension kit. This might be an alternative for me in the future. Here is a photo of how it looks like:

Please be advised you can order every of ATCpilot's photos as a print no matter in which size, weather it is on paper, acrylic glass or a t-shirt. Just choose your photo/ask for a specific aircraft and email us to get information on pricing etc...

Happy landings!


LATAM Boeing 787-9 Business Class - Spotting in Madrid

It was my first time, flying business class on a widebody jet. LATAM (former LAN Chile) operates a daily flight from Santiago de Chile via Madrid to Frankfurt and back. For only 200 Euros, you get a business ticket for the legs Frankfurt-Madrid-Frankfurt.

We were allowed to use the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Frankfurt. After a beer and some snacks for dinner, we went to the boarding gate, passed the waiting line of economy passengers and boarded our flight with no waiting. 


After having taken our seats, we got champagne as a welcome drink. While the economy passengers were busy for another 45 minutes getting on board, I already was 20 minutes into the movie on my inflight entertainment system and had spread my legs. Very comfortable!


The flight attendants took very well care of us. Also the dinner was delicious and upon arrival in Madird I was very very relaxed. I could have stayed aboard for the next flight to Santiago....





It was my second time in Madrid. Besides good food (tapas) and a visit of Toledo, I sure spent a day at Madird-Barajas Airport. Lots of carriers from south america can be seen here. Make sure to see the photo gallery (link below)!

Another great place to see is the "Museo del Aire", where you find hundreds of airframes including the Wright Flyer, WW I & II warbirds, a Boeing 727 as well as A KC-97 Stratotanker with two jet- and 4 prop-engines (see picture on the right). Definitely worth a visit for all aviation enhtusiasts.




Farewell Bobby - A Lufthansa Boeing 737 tribute

Farewell Bobby - About three months after my flight on board the last Lufthansa Boeing 737 service from Frankfurt to Nuernberg, I finally finished editing my farewell video. It includes passenger and cockpitscenes from all over Europe, as well as from some flights to the scrapyards in the US. It was a very nice airframe, which was in service for 49 years. Enjoy my tribute and please dont forget to share and subscribe my new youtube channel :)


Airplane Scrapyards - MHV from above

Meeting Florence, again... I still remember that day in november 2014, when I made my way to Amsterdam, to attend the worldwide last passenger flight of an MD-11, operated by KLM (see tripreport here...)Back then, I wrote onto the aircraft skin "see you again in Victorville" and planned to say good bye one more time, when I would return to the US.


In 2015, I found out, that she was not stored in Victorville, but ended up in the Mohave desert - another scrapyard for airplanes. Now I finally made my way out there. "Florence Nightingale" / PH-KCD is stored in MHV together with her sister PH-KCE. What a sad sight - but at least she is not a coke can yet... Also, there are two more dutch MD-11, former Martinair and a first KLM Boeing 747 Jumbojet.

Apart from those heavy aircraft, being scrapped at Mohave airport, we also found the very last Lockheed L-1011 Tristar in the world, operated as an airborne rocket launch pad. It is seen here, waiting for its next mission. This is yet anoher beautiful trijet, which I really miss in Europe, after the Royal Air Force retired their last L-1011 in 2014.


Other highlights we saw are N747A, a 747SP as well as two Douglas C133 Cargomaster - a very rare sight! After our lunch at the local airport restaurant, we had the chance to see an F-18 fighter departing in front of the graveyard. That gave us an opportunity for great photographs. Have a look on those pictures - an amazing variety of airplanes in just one spot...



Airplane Scrapyards - VCV from above

Time to say good bye... Another adventure of our trip to the US was a visit of multiple airplane scrapyards. I would like to start with Victorville, also known as Southern California Logistics Airport. 


The aerodrome is divided into multiple airplane storage areas, the biggest one owned by FedEx. All kind of airframes are being stored by the US-based cargo airline. Some will eventually return into service, others are only good for spare parts before they will be sold as aluminum. It is a fasciniting and sad sight at the same time. While you see hundreds of airplanes which still fly, there are also very special airframes to see, such as a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar which was once flying for Delta (see picture on the right). Today, one Tristar remains active, based in Mohave (pictures to follow next week).

Another storage area belongs to Boeing. Not only old aircraft are being stored here, also brand new aircraft such as N887BA, take a rest in the desert. The Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner was built for Privatair but could never been delivered to its' final customer. The VIP-longhaul jet still has an uncertain future after two years of storage.


Other highlights apart from the airplane storage and scrapyard in VCV are military training activity (e.g. a DC10-tanker or C130's in the traffic pattern) and a pretty nice FBO operated by "Millionair", where we had pretty good lunch for only 1 USD. 




At this time I would also like to thank MD-11 CPT George de Waard for making an up close visit of the Martinair MD-11 @ VCV possible. George initiated the Martinair MD-11 book, now available for purchase. My best-of pictures can be seen below. Stay tuned for the next round of photos from Mohave!


Helicopter Planespotting @ LAX

What an adventure! Once, it was a very special perspective, whenever you found photos on the internet, showing airplanes landing from above. But I feel like it has become a common sight now. So how is this possible, taking photos of an A380 landing up close? After some research, I found out that famous aviation-expert Sam Chui, together with Star Helicopter (based in Hawthorne, Los Angeles), created planespotting trips for everybody at LAX. The friendly ATC personell at LAX tower is able to accomodate one helicopter at a time, hovering betweeen the runway complexes... This gives amazing opportunities to shoot pictures of landing, departing and taxiing aircraft.

In december, I finally had the chance to return to Los Angeles, not only to fly a Cessna over my beloved scrapyards in the deserts of California, but also to take a helicopter ride over LAX. The view was amazing, not even having doors installed on the helicopter. Our pilot Paul seemed to be very experienced. Whenever an aircraft was approaching the famous In'n'Out burger, he perfectly aligned the helicopters left side with the airplane and was turning the helicopter so, that we did not even have to move the camera at all during the whole approach and landing.


Since it was not allowed, to bring any loose items such as camera lenses, SD-cards or batteries, I brought 2 cameras, one with a tele-lens and another one for wide-angle shots of the terminal complex. Have a look at these awesome shots and don't hesitate to get in touch if you got any questions about that trip :)