The winner of Heathrow Airport’s December #AvGeek of the month is James Oates!
James (AKA SpeedBirdUk) is an aviation addict and an incredible photographer. We caught up with James to find out more about his aviation experience and top tips as an #AvGeek. We’ve also shared a selection of his spectacular photos for you to enjoy!
Name: James Oates
Location: Shoreham, West Sussex
Aviation enthusiast, spotter or photographer? Or all 3? All 3
What first interested you in aviation?/Why are you an #AvGeek?
I attended the World Scout Jamboree in 2015 in Japan, which was a 13 hour long haul flight via Istanbul. This was my first long haul and wide-body flight, and ever since then I have been fascinated by aviation.
I started taking pictures on my mum’s camera at Heathrow and I developed some basic photography skills, and eventually bought my own basic canon camera. Ever since then I have been improving and practising my photography skills and my passion for aviation photography grew.
My Instagram has enabled me to travel the world as part of the intentional press contingent for many large aviation events. My highlight has been the delivery of the worlds first A350-1000 for Qatar Airways back in February from Toulouse to Doha, and the first flight of the Beluga XL in July.
I have been all over the world photographing aircraft and I particularly enjoy aerial plane spotting, which I managed to do in Los Angeles and Sydney.
What do you love most about coming to Heathrow?
Heathrow is one of the few airports in the world with a large number of active jumbos. Any #AvGeek can appreciate this, as they have become a rarity all around the world. Heathrow has a diverse range of traffic and with takeoffs and landings seconds apart, you can always capture a great picture!
Heathrow currently only has two runways, usually one for the arrivals and one for the departures. This means you can easily predict which runway a particular aircraft will be departing/arriving on.
Check out a selection of James’ best shots!
Heathrow is also never short of spotters, Myrtle Avenue (a famous spotting location at Heathrow) is always full of like minded individuals, and provides an enjoyable atmosphere to relax and enjoy the traffic or indulge in some plane spotting. This is also a great place to enhance your photography skills and get tips from fellow spotters regarding camera equipment, settings or airport movements.
Favourite aircraft livery at Heathrow?
The new Air Canada is my personal favourite! With a daily 737max and a large amount of 777s and 787s there is no shortage of the new livery at Heathrow.
Social media accounts?
Instagram – @speedbirduk
Twitter – @speedbird_uk
Any tips for other #AvGeeks?
Use weather to your advantage and plan your spotting trips.
I use an app called Suncalc which shows you the position and future positions of the sun in regards to the hours of the day. This is extremely useful as it can be used to avoid shooting back lite, and gives you an idea of the best spots to shoot from – with the best lighting.
There are many useful web pages that detail all the spots at Heathrow, their exact locations and the best time of day to take photos to avoid back-light – I use spotterguide.net
Facebook groups like “London Aviation Photographers” and “London Area Aviation spotting and news” are a great place to get information of airport movements, spotting locations, sharing your favourite shots and receiving useful feedback from other photographers.