What is a spotter

According to Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, a spotter is:

describes a person whose job or interest is to notice people or things of the type mentioned:
a talent-spotter
a train-spotter
or a aircraft-spotter.


Many believes that the idea of aircraftrecognition first were set to system by the brittish, during WW2 and the Battle of Brittain. Both AAA (Trible A: Anti Aircraft Artillery) and the pilots had to distinguish between friend and foe.

Today there has been a vast development of advanced radars and coded systems, but mistakes still takes place, and aircraft identification mistakes have been made by all militaries, though “IFF” capability (an electronic signal to “Identify Friend or Foe”) has decreased the number of incidents of accidental shoot downs due to “Friendly Fire”.
Read more about some of these mistakes on our page “Why aircraftrecognition”.

We distinguish between aircraftrecognition and spotting. We consider aircraftrecognition as a primarily military task, and spotting, with it’s many facets, as a civilian hobby. If you’ve been to a airshow or driven by a crowd of people collected dense at a airport , you certainly encountered a crowd “armed” with notebooks, cameraes, radioes and latters.


When you set out to spot, there are some things that you can’t do without, depending on what your purpose is. Here is a list of some of the things you might find essential:

  • Camera, and a big objective.
  • Lots of film. Today many uses digital cameraes, and then you need storage.
  • A latter, just look at the pictures on this page to see why.
  • A Radioscanner.
  • Notebook.
  • Miscellaneous handbooks with aircraftdata and designations.
  • Something to sit on.

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