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  • AvGeek of the Month – James Oates

    AvGeek of the Month – James Oates

    The winner of Heathrow Airport’s December #AvGeek of the month is James Oates! 

    James (AKA SpeedBirdUk) is an aviation addict and an incredible photographer. We caught up with James to find out more about his aviation experience and top tips as an #AvGeek. We’ve also shared a selection of his spectacular photos for you to enjoy!

    Name: James Oates
    Age: 17
    Location: Shoreham, West Sussex


    All 3

    I attended the World Scout Jamboree in 2015 in Japan, which was a 13 hour long haul flight via Istanbul. This was my first long haul and wide-body flight, and ever since then I have been fascinated by aviation.

    I started taking pictures on my mum’s camera at Heathrow and I developed some basic photography skills, and eventually bought my own basic canon camera. Ever since then I have been improving and practising my photography skills and my passion for aviation photography grew.

    My Instagram has enabled me to travel the world as part of the intentional press contingent for many large aviation events. My highlight has been the delivery of the worlds first A350-1000 for Qatar Airways back in February from Toulouse to Doha, and the first flight of the Beluga XL in July.


    I have been all over the world photographing aircraft and I particularly enjoy aerial plane spotting, which I managed to do in Los Angeles and Sydney.

    The wide variety of airlines from all around the world that fly in and out of Heathrow and also the volume of planes you get to see in a day – with around 1300 combined take offs and landings each day, your camera’s memory cards soon start to get filled up when photographing planes at Heathrow.

    The China Southern Dreamliner and the Oman Air livery are my two favourite.

    I read in an onboard magazine that the Boeing factory have a machine which tests how strong the Dreamliner wings are by lifting them upwards until they broke. In the case of the B787, their wings broke the machine instead.

    Twitter - @avgeekmel

    Instagram – @avgeekmel 

    • There’s no need to invest in very expensive camera equipment when starting out in aviation photography – any second-hand camera and 70-300mm lens should be fine to photograph planes at most airports. You can always upgrade your equipment in the future when budgets permit.
    • Learn about the manual settings on your camera and how they affect your photos. You can also learn techniques for editing aviation photos from YouTube videos.
    • Download Flightradar24 on your phone or tablet so you can keep track of the planes.
    • Enjoy spending time at airports when you can and photograph the planes at different times of the year. Although it’s colder in winter you can get some amazing winter light on the planes and don’t forget the sun protection when you’re out at an airport all day in the warmer weather too.
    Think you know someone who should be Heathrow #AvGeek of the month?