I learned something significant while shooting the airliners from above LAX. It is a lot harder to see an airliner from above than I thought. In the many years of flying, I am familiar with the importance of maintaining a good lookout and the difficulty of spotting other aircraft around you in the sky. From our locations over the airport, we were generally picking out the aircraft from a background of the city, not the sky. I had figured that we knew the approach paths and what was due in so we would not have trouble seeing the planes as they came in.
I was very wrong. First, they are not easy to find at all. Three sets of eyes were looking but we would find things at odd times, sometimes when they were very close. Also, with parallel operations to the 24 and 25 complexes, you can get distracted by activity on one side and miss out on something the other side. The result of this was that we did not see some of the jets until they were on the ground. Pete, who was with me, flies 777s so we were keen to get the BA jet when it came in. We knew the arrival time and still managed to miss it until it was on the ground. An Air France A380 also sneaked in past our “diligent” scan. An Aeroflot A330 was also successful in coming in untouched.
All of these were a little frustrating but not terrible. However, it did give me pause for thought about how I would plan the flight the next time in order to keep track of the things that I most wanted to get. This flight was my first time trying this so I was happy to have got so many shots that I like. The missed ones are not the end of the world. I did learn a lot though and will make sure I use that knowledge next time.