Saturday, October 15, 2005

Plane-spotting at Gravelly Point

"The booming sound of a low-flying airplane may not fit into your idea of a day at the park, but for many Gravelly Point visitors, it's the main attraction. Located on the shore of the Potomac River, just a stone's throw away from the airport, the park is a hotbed for aircraft spotting, a decades-old pastime that involves relaxed to obsessive watching and photographing of airplanes.

"On any given weekend when the weather is right, the park is full of tourists and locals who come to Gravelly to see commercial jets make their final descent into Washington. With a view of the Washington Monument to the north and a cool breeze coming off the river, the park is considered one of the best spotting areas in the country."

"For many, the primary appeal is not the planes themselves but the compelling pictures they inspire. Gravelly is a haven for professional and recreational photographers looking for something a little more exciting than snapping portraits of flowers."

"Though it's hard to ascribe an exact history to something as simple as observing planes, some say spotting as a hobby began in Europe during World War II. With radar technology in its infancy, some countries encouraged their citizens to watch the skies for enemy aircraft.

"As commercial air travel grew, the activity became a leisurely pursuit practiced all over the world." ...

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