Opinion: Why I Love Plane Watching

Few things are certain in life. Birth, Death, Taxes. However, the euphoria of watching planes take off and land is without a doubt one of these certainties.


There I am in the parking lot of the Charlotte airport, filled with anticipation and excitement. The planes looming in their hangers and on the runway in front of me.  How great it would feel to be on one of those planes. Racing through the air at top speed, free from the worries of tomorrow.  Alas, here I am. Stuck on the ground. Cursed to only observe the joys of others.


No matter. Stepping out of my car I hop quickly to fencing in front of me. Binoculars in hand I spot the Boeing 737 being taxied out onto the runway. How graceful it is, how pristine. A real marvel of technology. Unlike Fury 325 at Carowinds Amusement Park. What a hunk of junk. Imagine closing the ride for “inclement weather” when the skies are clear. That’s just outrageous. You would think the best voted steel coaster six years in a row could tolerate some light rain. But no! You have to close five hours early in order to avoid some dampening of the track. That’s just absurd. Do you see any of the planes on this fine North Carolinian runway close for a little rain? I think not. What kind of society would pause for such trivial matters such as theses. The indomitable airplane spirit will not be impeded by futile obstacles.


While I’m plane watching, I always imagine that I’m right up there in the sky with the planes. I could even be Superman, lying flat on my stomach, weightless in the air. It’s a feeling Carowinds’ Nighthawk really tries to replicate, but falls abysmally short of. Lying on your back? Really? What’s up with that. I really don’t appreciate being dragged up the lift hill face up, while the rain persistently pelts my face. It would really be worth it if the ride was any good. Unfortunately, the designers at Vekoma planned the coaster out by taking a ball of wire and mashing it around in their hands for a solid ten minutes, before to saying “yeah, build that.” Good golly what a waste of space.


Of course, the pinnacle of plane watching is an airshow. Watching experienced pilots scream across the sky, performing complicated maneuvers is a dream come true. How I would love to be a part of a group like the Blue Angels. In a fighter jet, going MACH 6 while barrel rolling. I wish Afterburn at Carowinds was anywhere close to this thrilling. The plane theming is probably the best part of the ride. The whole thing is super jank, and on the whole too loud. The roar of a plane engine is one thing, it’s another when your head banging on a lame ass ride trying not to break you C2 and C3 vertebrae. I can’t tell if I want a refund more because I was subjected to that ride, or to an early park closure. Wouldn’t be shocked if that ride comes back to the station with a train full of corpses in the near future.


Thank goodness the airport doesn’t close early. Not for good weather, not for bad weather, not even for an overzealous plane watcher with a laser pointer. Alas even in the back of the patty wagon, cuffs locked on wrists, as long as I’m not going to Carowinds, I know everything is going to be okay. ­