In 2010 the American Psychological Association conducted a survey among Americans to check just how well we are doing in these stressful times.  They determined that chronic stress is close to becoming a National Health Crisis.  The top three contributing factors in 2010 money, work and the economy.   In 2011 nothing has improved and the level of stress is likely at a higher level today.  To combat stress levels some people seek medical help and some start taking prescription medications to combat their stress.  Others learn stress reducing techniques such as meditation or martial arts like Tai Chi.  Then there's the groups that discovered long ago that hobbies are great stress reducer.  It's enjoyable and gets their mind off the stress closing in all around them.  Hobbies cost money, and money is one of the key concerns at this time, so why even think about a hobby?  The good news is that not all hobbies cost money to get started in.  There are a number of groups involved in “Spotter Hobbies” and are now hosting websites in support of whatever their particular group is looking to spot.  The more popular ones are plane, trains, trucks, and buses, but there really isn't any limit to what your topic of interest.   You just need to find others interested in looking for the same thing.

General Info on the Hobby of Spotting

The basics are the same regardless of what your topic of interest is.  You can enjoy spotting  from your house or at specific areas which present more opportunities to spot your target.  If you're interested in airplanes you might want to take trips to the airport, trains you'll want to sit along a well used train route, and so forth.  Things you'll want to keep track of are time, place, identifying numbers, colors and anything else you find interesting.

Looking at airplane spotting specifically, we can take a better look at just how narrow or broad your hobby could be.  For airplanes some keep records on anything man-made they see flying including all airplanes, helicopters, blimps, and hot air balloons.  Others prefer a more defined limit on what they want to record such as only airplanes with propellers, or only certain manufacturer's models of prop planes, commercial or private, single props or multiple engines. If you decide to spot airplanes make sure you record the registration number you see on the plane.  Visiting the FAA website you can enter the registration number and retrieve the information on that specific registration number and all the planes that have held that number before.  To check the site out I used the registration number on a plane I found a picture of online.  When I checked the FAA website I found the plane pictured is now owned by someone in Mexico.  I found the name and address of the previous owner, the manufacturer of the plane, year of manufacture, which engine it had and more.  I also found out that two airplanes had the same number at different times.  The other plane, a Piper J3  listed on the site as destroyed, so the registration was re-issued.  

Airplane spotting is becoming more and more popular, and websites are popping up all over the Internet where you can share pictures, videos and discuss the topic.  I found a number of videos on YouTube as well showing local groups of spotters meeting up at airports to spend the day spotting airplanes together.  To get you started don't forget the resources at your local library and online sites to learn more about airplanes and other aircraft.

  If you find something interesting there are many more that will also.  There are sites online where you can build your own website or start your own blog for free.  Once you decide what your subject will be, start your own site to promote the interest and get more people to join the fun.   Even a couple of hours a week enjoying a hobby like this will do wonders in relieving your stress levels.