• 31-AUG-2017

  • SOURCE: Deutsche Lufthansa AG

Grail quest with a camera

Air Force One: Holy grail for planespotters

A hobby that connects: Kai Block and Claus Witte are passionate 'Planespotters'

Airport fences are his hunting ground: chartered engineer Claus Witte is there regularly. Sometimes he has a ladder with him, but he always hopes to be able to spot a rare type of aircraft - and to photograph it. Witte is a planespotter.

A hobby that has its origins in the Second World War. Back then, the British Government called on its citizens to track and record enemy aircraft movements. Today, numerous people pursue the same activity in a more civilian manner.

Witte first became enthusiastic about photography. Since 1999, when he began working at Lufthansa Systems, he got closer to the subject of aviation - and with it planespotting. During vacations, Witte always plans a few days to indulge in his hobby. And he doesn’t just visit the airport itself with his Nikon D800, as he did recently in Sydney and Auckland, he also books a helicopter tour.

Boring? No way - as a look at his photo gallery proves. There, numerous colorful special paintwork jobs catch the eye - such as the elaborate tour plane belonging to the heavy metal band Iron Maiden. You’ll also find the most coveted image of all in his collection - Air Force One: “It’s the holy grail for every planespotter.”

Kai Block can confirm this. The 55-year-old works at Lufthansa Technik and is responsible for structural inspections, modifications and repairs in the VIP area there. During his free time he photographs the objects of his desire only when the sun shines - he likes to hunt Russian aircraft with his camera. “They are reliable, robust and made using the simplest of means”, says the passionate planespotter as he continues to rave on about the Tupolew TU-154, his favorite subject, but one which he has unfortunately never flown on.

Block has captured countless passenger aircraft in over 100,000 photos. He has captured everything that has flown since 1990 and keeps it in a box, he says with pride. Today he is only really interested in specific aircraft or paintwork and “keeps hold of everything that is not standard.”

The G20 summit in Hamburg was a highlight for him: For three days, up to twelve hours a day he could be found at spots around Hamburg Airport - getting pictures of all government aircraft for his collection, including the holy grail - Air Force One.