Plane Spotters India in DNA - Mumbai

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Preksha Malu @prekshums

For these passionate people, a plane is a metallic bird that needs to be captured in each of its habitats. Government recognized Aviation Photographers of India Foundation (APIF), that claims to be the first of its kind, was formed in 2008 in Bangalore. The group has a few members here in Mumbai, who keep up the tradition to get the authorities to warm up to the idea of plane spotting. A more informal group, Plane Spotters India, have a presence online and the website is run by three people, one of whom is from Mumbai. 

Girish Bhagnari, 37, works with multiple cinema outlets in the city and joined the group in 2012. “There are close to 40 people in this group from all over India and we like to click anything metallic that flies. Due to slums around the airport and the space crunch, we are not able to do much,” said Bhagnari, who added that the Mumbai airport also hosted a competition for plane spotters where the winners got to witness the inside of a terminal and the ramp outside.

To become a part of APIF, one needs to be a resident of India, above the age of 18 and pay Rs3,000 towards administration, enrolment and annual fees.

Being a Santa Cruz resident, 23-year-old Yatrik Sheth saw planes taking off and landing from the window of his house as a child. “When I got a chance to be inside the Delhi airport for 3 days, I did not sleep for two of them,” said Sheth.

He added that in APIF’s annual meeting, people from Delhi, Chennai Coimbatore, Bangalore and more come together to discuss their common interest. They are assisted by an Android app called Flight Radar 24, that updates them about incoming and outgoing flights.

Prathamesh Kini loves the 340-500 Airbus because of its short nose landing gear. “It seems as if it is bowing to you,” he said.

Kini is fascinated by the human engineering that goes into making a piece of metal fly. “My interest grew after the aviation boom in 2006 and I would click pictures from my mobile camera from my Andheri office, which overlooks the airport,” said Kini who pops out of his office even today to spot a plane.

21-year-old Janam Parikh is not an active member of APFI but has helped build the website Plane Spotters India, which has more than 8,000 followers on Facebook. “The website got a push when airlines started showing interest by acknowledging my pictures. I can say that I am the only person who has been to the new Mumbai ATC tower so many times,” he said.

Additional Resource : DNA

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