18:42 PM

The Plane Spot

Tampa International Airport these days is buzzing with air service announcements, new carriers and more passengers than ever before. Online, an avid and growing group of aviation enthusiasts – known as planespotters – are loving every moment.

More than 1,176 people have joined TPA’s online Facebook community, dubbed “The Plane Spot,” to share plane photos, ideas and all things aviation. Since its first post last June, the group has posted 6,418 times on the social media platform, or about 18 times a day – a virtual force to be reckoned with.

The group is made up mostly of AVgeeks and planespotters in the Tampa Bay area and has become a go-to for those looking for aviation news, TPA updates and, of course, lots of plane photos. With two airfield tours, a photo gallery and national attention, The Plane Spot has resulted in more than just pictures. It has become a haven for like-minded community members – many of which didn’t know they shared the same hobby.

“The Airport openness towards plane spotters got me wanting more, and I went and got it,” said Benicio DelTorres, a recently hired flight attendant with United Airlines and one of TPA’s original planespotters.

In July, 2018, a month after the group was launched, TPA hosted its first planespotting airfield tour. The tour took participants alongside active runways while some of their favorite aircraft took off toward the sky. After the tour, the group was surprised to find each of their own photos blown up, matted and framed in the Airport’s newest gallery exhibit. The planespotter exhibit was a first of its kind, and helped TPA increase awareness on its large community who enjoy a similar interest.

The second planespotter tour shared the same success as the Airport’s CEO, Joe Lopano, stood alongside members as they captured the graphic art of many arrivals and departures.

As The Plane Spot grew, it gained attention from other airports, spotters across the nation and even some media attention – being featured on Airline Reporter.

"The fact that the airport has proactively sought to create a space for enthusiasts is impressive. The group sees high activity where local enthusiasts network, engage, and share photos which TPA sometimes features in their social media campaigns," the publication wrote.

The group continues to grow as does its engagement. Before the year ends, expect some beautiful twilight plane shots as TPA’s team plans its first Sunset Airfield tour.