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With a plane spotter at Helsinki Airport 2/3

18.7.2014 at 08:22
This is the second story in a series of three. Aleksi Tihula and journalist Katja Alaja spot planes at Lemminkäisen kallio and Katriinantie around Helsinki Airport. In the latter place, Elias Hadjari joins the group.

Read story 1/3: Scenic terrace close to Helsinki Airport

Good bye Scenic terrace next to Helsinki Airport! Plane spotter Aleksi Tihula, me and my photographer Jyrki Komulainen walk to Tihula's car.

- One needs a car to be able to go to the spotting places. A moped is also fine; but if winds and runways change, one can run out of time when going from one place to another, says Tihula.

Tihula seems to be used to move around with a car, although at the beginning of his spotting history he used public buses to get to spotting places.

Just ten minutes and we arrive at Lemminkäisen kallio, which is a big rock. It is situated next to the Tuusula motorway at the Korso exit. Next to the rock is a Lemminkäinen plant. The real name of the rock is Sammonmäki.

Impressive overflights

Aleksi Tihula rapidly strides to the rock. Runways lie in front of us, and the airport building looms in the distance on the left.

There are a couple of families here as well. One of the mothers comes over to ask if any planes are about to leave. Tihula opens the FlightRadar24 application with his mobile phone and tells her that just 20 minutes and Norwegian's Boeing 737 leaves to Madrid.

- The downside today is that planes do not pass by us when landing but take off over us because of north-east winds. Planes come closer to the ground when they land. According to the FlightRadar24 application, landing planes are around 60 metres in the air above this rock, tells Tihula.

At such times Tihula may crouch down closer to the forest. Then a wide-body airliner with two aisles fits into the picture. If he has luck, also the scenery gives its best; for example, dramatic clouds are better than blue sky.

Soon the Norwegian runs on runway 1, takes off and flies over us. The plane engines roar loud. One cannot see the paintwork of the plane. Just a white bottom gleams.

A couple of other planes take off, and Tihula keeps taking photos. Icelandair's Boeing 757 takes off towards Reykjavik.

Boring moments included

We have to wait some one and a half hours before we can spot planes at Katriinantie.

- Every now and then when you spot for a longer time you have these boring moments. Then I might go to McD’s, says Aleksi Tihula referring to the McDonald's restaurant at Tuupakka, close to Helsinki Airport.

We go there also this time. When my other interviewee Elias "Elttu" Hadjari, 15, has not arrived yet, Tihula sends him a message via Facebook. Hadjari and Tihula are spotting friends. Hadjari says that he will arrive at Katriinantie.

- I have gotten good friends from this hobby, even people whom I travel with. People are so like-minded, explains Tihula.

Spotters spend a lot of time around the airport, but also on the Internet. Many upload their photos and comment on them, chat with each other and even track their flights in a flight diary.

Two peas in a pod

We leave the car at Katriinantie. The yellow building, which we saw earlier from the Scenic terrace, turns out to be a DHL warehouse.

Birds sing when we climb up the bank. Runway 3 gleams empty in front of us.

Today Tihula does not have ladders with him, because we are high enough compared to the wire-netting fence. Tihula does not want the fence in his pictures.

And then, planes start to land in an unending stream. Tihula points to the sky.

- You can see the lights first. Can you see them? There is another plane.

At that exact moment Elttu Hadjari approaches us. Hadjari that walks leisurely has a heavy-duty systems camera and objective hanging around his neck.

- This is one of my favourite places. I take photos here as many times in a week as I can, says Hadjari.

He also shares his photos and chats on the Internet, and likes rare planes. One of the most memorable ones is Saudi Arabia Cargo's Boeing 742, an old jumbo jet. It visited Helsinki on 19 to 20 June 2014. It is one of Tihula’s best experiences as well.

- Based on the lights that plane is Blue1's B717. Is it?, Hadjari says to Tihula.

- Yes, it is. One learns to recognise different airlines and plane models quickly, Tihula answers.

Would you like to try?

The interview was done at the end of June 2014. The last story is published on 28 July 2014. In that story Aleksi Tihula and Elttu Hadjari give spotting tips.

Read more

FlightForum: Information and discussion groups
Finnish Aviation Photography's spotting tips around Helsinki Airport 
Airliners: Photos, news, discussion groups, etc. for tracking own flights
Aleksi Tihula's photos
Elias "Elttu"Hadjari's photos
FlightRadar24: mobile phone application 
Spotting and filming around Helsinki Airport and Helsinki Airport Scenic terrace

Share a story, your photos and experiences on Twitter or Instagram with hashtag #HELview.

Text: Katja Alaja @KatjaAlaja
Icelandair's Boeing 757 photo: Aleksi Tihula
Saudi-Arabia Cargo's Boeing 742: Elias Hadjari
Other photos: Jyrki Komulainen