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Phuket’s perfect plane-spotting selfie

Tanutam Thawan

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Mai Khao Beach, any day day of the year. People are assembling, not to swim, but to take photos of planes taking off from the Phuket International Airport. Every 5-10 minutes planes will come and go making Mai Khao Beach one of Asia’s top plane spotting locations. For now, you can still capture your special moment with a plane, taking off or landing on Phuket’s northern coast.

One end of the Phuket Airport runway is just metres away from the beach making it a perfect spot for a plane-selfie. Alongside the hordes of amateurs with their mobile phones are the pros who bring much more sophisticated gear to capture the ‘moment’. There’s also always plenty of aviation geeks – plane spotters – who will fuss over the model of plane, the aircraft’s history, and enjoy soaking in the smell of aviation fuel.

So far this year, up to June 20, 116,485 flights have landed or taken off at the island’s only international airport. Mai Khao Beach is one of a handful of places in the world where you can get relatively up close and personal with a flying plane.

Phuket's perfect plane-spotting selfie | News by Thaiger

With a plane like a Boeing 747-400, requiring the full length of the runway, the jumbos touch down right at the start of the runway, or take off very close to the beach (depending on the time of the year), providing a spectacular photo indeed. Thai Airways still has daily flights from Bangkok to Phuket using the massive 747-400 aircraft.

Other destinations where you can get ‘that photo’ include St. Maarten in the Caribbean, and Skiathos in Greece.

Phuket's perfect plane-spotting selfie | News by Thaiger

“Me and an Air France A340” – St. Maarten in the Caribbean

But aviation and Phuket Airport officials have been increasingly skittish in recent years even though there’s been no major incidents, and are making moves to restrict access to northern end of Mai Khao Beach.

Whilst being a potential security issue, the Airport acknowledges that the land is managed by the Sirinath National Park and doesn’t have the power to close off access to the beach. Informal meetings between Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, Airport and national park officials haven’t reached a long-tern solution at this stage.

Earlier this year some British tabloids completely misrepresented a Thai official’s comments, taking them out of context and posting the headline…

Phuket's perfect plane-spotting selfie | News by Thaiger

Read the story about the highly exaggerated news HERE.

The absurd stories stemmed from a misunderstanding of a local news report that touched on separate punishable issues relating to drones and other acts that could distract pilots and linking them to the ‘selfie’ issue.

At this stage CAAT says that security at all Thai airports must be up to international standards.

“We are thinking about cordoning off the area or keeping tourists further away from the airport. The exact action is yet to be finalised.”

“Taking photos of the runway or planes taking off from runway is not technically illegal, but there is a grey area in which we have to consider if those photos are intended to harm airport security, that could be illegal.”

For now the beach remains open and, if you want that ‘perfect’ plane selfie, The Thaiger has some guidelines HERE.

One trick, is that you’ll get a better result during high season (December to April) when the winds are coming from the east and northeast and planes land from the Andaman Sea end towards Thepkasattri Road. You’re more likely to get that low-flying-landing-plane shot at this time.

 

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