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Identifying planes in the air

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Well-known member
Jun 14, 2002
Hi...this might be kindda lame question to ask...but seriously...
Until now, when a plane fly past inthe sky, I can't seem to know what sort of plane is that but I can see that people knows...

How do you identify what sort of plane is in the air? Say for both commercial and military jets =p

Thkz...I really need help here...Thankz again in advance :)
I personally took a class on the subject, as part of an aviation science major in school. However, I understand this is not an option for many people. I don't know how many Aircraft ID classes are taught, and where, but the number is small, I imagine.

Try going to any decent bookstore or aviation store and getting a couple books on the matter. There are books on identifying aircraft all over the place, many different styles and layouts are available. You'll be identifying them in no time! Also, spend some time on airliners.net looking at pictures of all the different types of aircraft you're interested in.

Private message if you have any questions.

thkz for the reply...but is there any like distinct factors to identify?
they planes looks quite the same...say for Boeing planes.... other then the 747 with the 'bubble' on top =p
Go Planespotting...

I grew up within 10 miles of a major metropolitan airport, so I got used to seeing/hearing various types since childhood. It's a pretty cool feeling to know exactly what type of plane it is just by the sound it makes. I have always been interested in planes, mostly fighter jets when I was younger then the big airliners as I got older, so I had lots of books to read/look at pictures and model aircraft that I built, for me it was a combination of reading about them and seeing them in action.
There are a couple of good aircraft recognition books out there, pocket size too so you can take it easily with you if you go planespotting, I don't remember the titles however. If not then the internet is a very valuable resource, like Ravengirl said try Airliners.net they have a ton of photos.
You'll be able to recognize various aircraft soon enough, the more you immerse yourself in the subject the easier it'll come.
There are other distiguishing factors that can be used to ID various aircraft. The books that Ravengirl mentions breaks aircraft up into such catagories. Just as an example, some of these distinguishing factors are: number of engines, T-tail vs. conventional tail, number of windows, airliners, biz-jets, etc...

I've seen these types of books at large chain bookstores such as Barnes & Nobels. Can't recall any titles or authours, but I believe they can be found in the "Transportation" section of the store.
my $.02

Get yourself a copy of a aircraft guide from any local bookstore. Head out to the nearest airport and use the guide to indentify them. It doesn't take very long to get the hang of it.........
Keep at it. It is a tedious task if you really want to know them all. There are a lot of aircraft out there. I knew next to nothing when I started my flight training in college. I could tell you if it was a military plane or a civilian but that was the extent of it. I am a corporate pilot so I still have trouble with the military and commercial airliners but I have worked at the bizjet fleet. I can tell most of them on the ground. In the air is harder because of the distance/size factor, and the features appear different.

It takes a discriminating study. My chief pilot was one of the best in the country for Embry Riddell (sp?) and he knows airplanes I've never even heard of. He said they used to cut out pictures of distinguishing features of aircraft and use them to study. You can tell most Gulfstreams by their cockpit windows. I struggled for quite awhile to differentiate between a IV and V. Same windows, same number of passenger windows, same landing gear, same size engines, etc. (to the observer)
I couldn't find a difference until I saw two side by side and noticed that the five has a fuselage plug between the engines and the last passenger window. Now I know.

Another quick example. The way I tell a Hawker 800 from a 700 series or earlier is they don't usually have any nose gear doors sticking down.

Look for a book with the profile sketches, which is what they would look like in the air. I think Jane's has a book, not sure if it's still in print though.
Similar to hobbsmeter, I grew up in the airforce over in japan. Living there, building models and reading books since I was able to walk and talk I can pretty much make out any of the military aircraft.

as for civilan, I have a harder time finding the difference between the airbus and boieng. I can pretty much distinguish between all the boiengs.
thkz for all your replys...

It's sure cool to grow up somewhere near the airport and get to see the planes that often.

Jane's Books?? What's the title?? Where may i get it??
Janes, its called the Janes Aircraft Identfication Guide.
I think?

Look for that and you will find it, its a wide book, that has details, a 3 view and a picture of each aircraft.

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