Back in June, when the weather was all nice and sunny… haha, just kidding, of course it wasn’t. Anyway. Back in June, I spent a day out at the airport. As you do.
There are many British stereotypes lingering in the minds of Germans, ready to surface and be proved true whenever you do something that could be considered slightly odd. A penchant for weird hobbies is one of those stereotypes, and, no offense, but you Brits do like to confirm them on a regular basis. Rolling cheese down a hill and chasing after it in a potentially fatal race? Check. Playing a game that lasts over several days, incorporates lunch and tea, with inexplicable rules, where half of the team on the pitch don’t actually seem to participate? Check. Check. Check. Check. A drinking game that has actual rules and standard-sized equipment you can purchase from the shop? (Okay I know, beer pong is an American invention, but popular enough here in the UK). Check. And finally, spending hours in a crowded car park watching planes take off and landing, while you’re equipped with a radio, expensive binoculars and even more expensive cameras? Ch-omg-eck.
Back in the olden days, plane spotting made some kind of sense: those flying things were miracles of modern engineering, flights were hardly affordable, tons of metal defying gravity was something unusual and unbelievably exciting. And while the latter certainly is still the case, I cannot imagine how anyone could get a thrill out of watching planes driving around the runway and noting the different types of planes while taking photos.
The Airport Hotel is a pub popular with plane spotters, as it is conveniently located right next to the runway, with its spacious beer garden only separated from the huge machines by a wire fence. As we went there on a Sunday afternoon it was completely packed out with spotters and families alike. The beer garden had a rather bizarre fun fair meets playground meets military training feel to it, as children were playing on the bouncy castle and the swings, waving the toy machine guns their loving parents had bought them at the nearby stall, while plane spotters with giant binoculars and radios were gathering at the fence. Probably the only place in the world where parents are happy to let their children run around in close proximity to men with binoculars.
Unfortunately the food ordering process (order on the kitchen door, then wait for the cook to come out and shout your number) was a little confusing and the food leaving the kitchen didn’t look particularly appealing (ok, it looked awful), so we only had a quick drink while watching the plane spotters. Every takeoff was preluded by the approaching of the plane, then turning to have the turbines point right at the beer garden while causing storm-like hot wind – this, and the deafening noises, made me wonder why on earth anyone would want to spend more than a few minutes in that place, let alone a family day out. I have yet to understand the appeal of planes.