Speedbird Spotter: Aviation Analyses, Experiences, Opinions, and More

 

This website is the result of my desire to combine two lifelong passions — aviation and writing — through analyses, experiences, opinions, and thoughts about what happens in the sky.

While a young child growing up in a small town in Maine, I often frequented the local landing strip with my father to watch the single-engine prop planes take off and land. Many small children are captivated by moving objects, but my interest was something more than that: I wanted to know how planes got up in the air, where they went after they took off, and what it was like to see the world from the sky. I got to ride in an Ercoupe with one of the local pilots when I was in kindergarten, and while the experience was a little nerve-wracking, I had a blast once we were up in the sky.

My interest was put on the back burner when we moved that summer, but it was re-ignited in sixth grade or so. This time, I became intrigued by transatlantic flights, and I became particularly fascinated with British Airways, its majestic Boeing 747-400s, and London Heathrow Airport. However, much like when I was young, aviation slowly moved into the background within a few years.

I had long desired to live in a state where there were scheduled transatlantic flights at my local airport, but that obviously wasn’t going to happen in Portland or Bangor. However, after graduating college, I moved to Massachusetts full-time, and began living around five miles from Boston Logan International Airport. As a result, I started to see transatlantic flights departing for Europe from my bedroom. Thus, my interest in aviation re-emerged, and I accomplished a lifelong dream in the fall of 2014 by boarding a transatlantic flight at Boston Logan. Fittingly, the flight was to London Heathrow on a British Airways 747-400.

Though I’m especially interested in international operations, I’ve really come to enjoy learning about domestic flights as well. Particularly, I’m intrigued by logistics and operations: the inner workings of airports, navigation, runways, and traffic patterns. I enjoy checking out flightradar24 and FlightAware to see what’s in the sky at any given time, as well as examining AirNav to learn more about the ways that airports work. I’ve often been asked why I never became a pilot, and while the answer is a combination of factors — the aviation job market when I was entering college, uncertainty about my career desires, teenage financial laziness, etc. — I’m content with enjoying aviation as a hobby and perhaps getting my private pilot’s license down the road.

I’ll explain how this website obtained its name. Every flight — every aircraft, in fact — has a “callsign” that air traffic control uses to identify it, which usually consists of the airline’s name and the flight number (e.g. “American 123”). However, some airlines do not use their name, but rather a different term as the first part of its identifier, and the first part of British Airways’ callsign is “Speedbird.” Thus, Speedbird Spotter was born. (For those of you concerned about potential trademark infringement by using Speedbird in the name of this site, Speedbird is no longer a registered trademark. Its registration was cancelled in December of last year).

In establishing this site, I’m not looking to write for one particular group of people. Rather, my goal is to utilize a balance of useful jargon with writing that everyone — pilots, mechanics, and the casual traveler — can enjoy. Perhaps you’ll find the answer to a longstanding question about flying, or clarification for a term that you’ve often heard but never understood. Maybe you’re like me, and just enjoy reading about things that you already know about. Either way, I hope that you find what you’re looking for, and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback.

4 thoughts on “Speedbird Spotter: Aviation Analyses, Experiences, Opinions, and More”

  1. Your storyline is so motivating.i am also an aviation enthuasist from Embu,Kenya and just like you,its my hope that one time i will have a private pilot license though I am a commerce student in my 3rd year at a local university….keep up with your good work..

  2. Fine and very informative blog. Thanks.
    BTW re: “Small City Big Plane” post. Much better reasons that Boston is a hub for big airliners. Boston metro is many times larger than Austin. Boston, Houston, Dallas and Atlanta metros are all roughly the same size. Although metro Boston is slightly smaller than Atlanta, it’s metro GDP is a third larger than ATL (people earn and produce much more). Se, the City of Boston (42 sq. miles vs. Houston 400 sq. miles), is like City of San Francisco, medium central city in a big metro area. City of London is 1 square mile.

  3. Thanks for stopping by, and appreciate your comment. Interesting about GDP and metro areas, and I do agree that BOS and SFO are quite similar in that they’re medium-sized cities in much larger metro areas. However, “City of London” refers to the central business district of the city (the 1 sq. mile you’re talking about), rather than Greater London – which, in my experience, is what people instead refer to when they colloquially refer to as the “City of London” rather than solely the business district. Regardless, I do agree with you about the GDP playing a factor in the size of airliners in Boston – the numerous business connections between BOS and other foreign cities does warrant a high volume of service (and thus high-capacity aircraft).

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