SEPANG: Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is quickly gaining recognition as a plane spotter’s paradise.
A group of such enthusiasts, who love to take photos and videos of aircraft, were feted by Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) with an exclusive tour to restricted areas on Thursday.
Theonanta Pardede, 35, who flew in from Jakarta, said his first taste of plane spotting in KLIA was in 2018 when he was on a trip to Kuala Lumpur with his wife and son.
“At that time, I was just taking photos from Anjung Tinjau at KLIA Terminal 1. In 2019, I came back for a special solo trip just for plane spotting at Jalan Pekeliling at KLIA and some other spots,” said the executive with a general insurance company in Indonesia.
Theonanta is one of seven Indonesian aviation fans from Komunitas Fotografer Aviasi Indonesia (KFAI) hosted by MAHB, which has been actively engaging plane spotters for several years now.
In 2018, it invited a core group of Malaysian plane spotters from different airports to be members of MY Elite, which gets privileged access to airport areas that are typically out of bounds to the public.
In April 2019, it unveiled Anjung Spotter, an outdoor observation deck near KLIA’s perimeter fencing that is open round-the-clock to enable plane spotters to have the perfect panoramic view of aircraft taking off from KLIA’s Runway 32L.
Anjung Spotter became the talking point of aviation enthusiasts all over the Asia-Pacific region, with many asking their respective airport authorities to emulate MAHB’s effort in supporting their love for aviation photography.
On Thursday, the group from Indonesia was allowed to join in the special tour along with members of MY Elite.
Theonanta said it was a marvellous experience for him to be able to spot planes from the AFRS Fire Station 1 and the Petronas station as well as riding a bus to get close to the aircraft.
“We got so many new angles for our collection and are really thankful for the opportunity,” said Theonanta, who praised MAHB for being so accommodating towards plane spotters.
“Now, with Anjung Spotter already in place, and MAHB reaching out to Malaysian spotters to form MY Elite, as well as welcoming foreign spotters like us from KFAI, I can say that KLIA has improved so much in terms of welcoming plane spotters,” he said.
Malaysian medical student Hoo Jiong Sheng, 29, said just looking at planes land and depart had some sort of therapeutic effect on him.
“I’ve only started in 2015 and my first session was stopping haphazardly by the roadside (to watch the planes). Back then, the area around Runway 32L wasn’t as crowded as it is today.
“Over time, I met other plane spotters and from there, I started to discover other spots,” said the native of Johor Baru who now lives in Cyberjaya.
“Thursday afternoon’s experience was definitely fun – it was a proper treat for me since I just finished my end of semester exams and this event was scheduled right after.
“Taking photos in the security area is definitely challenging because you don’t always get the angles that you want as there are strict rules for our movements on the apron for everyone’s safety.
“And because of that, certain angles that we get are exclusive and I get to be close to these machines that I enjoy looking at,” said Hoo, who also treasures the opportunity to network with counterparts from Indonesia.
“We shared some great stories and contacts, and I guess, no more worries if I want to do plane spotting in Indonesia.”