In our Crew Stories this week we’re in conversation with Utkarsh Thakker, an avid plane spotter, aviation aficionado and a model plane collector. He also goes by the name VimanSpotter, he’s here to share his story and tell us a little bit about his model collection.
My passion for airplanes started as early as my childhood. As a kid I would always tell my father to take me to the airport to see airplanes, for me time just flew by gazing at those beauties flying in the sky. As I got older, my passion for airplanes and the aviation industry only grew, and with that I started plane-spotting and collecting airplane models.
When I was in college doing my Electronic Engineering, I started my Instagram page “Vimanspotter” where I upload aircraft pictures and my travel experiences. Its been 4 years since I began, and my years of experience in handling my social media page coupled with my passion and love for aviation gave me a lot of opportunities to work in the aviation industry. I currently take care of the social media handle for a leading airline.
Some people love to explore new places, but unlike others I love to fly and experience the joy of flying in different airplanes. So far I have flown 202,320 km in 131 flights. I have travelled on the Airbus 320neo/ceo, A321, A330, A380, ATR72-500/600, Boeing 737-800/900, B777-200/300ER, B747-400, MD80, and Bombardier CRJ. In 2020-21, I do plan on flying in an Air India and Vistara Boeing 787, and hopefully that will materialise soon.
I started collecting model planes a few years back and all my planes come with a story. Every year I make an attempt to fly in a different aircraft, one I have never been on before, and after the flight or inflight, I always check for the aircraft model I’m traveling in to add it to my collection. When I set my eyes on a new model, the urge to make it a part of my collection is irresistible, I am like a child in a store who can’t be placated till he buys his new toy.
I remember the first one was while traveling to Bangalore on an Indigo flight, their in-flight catalogue had a model of the Indigo “Airbus A320 with Fence Wingtip” for sale. That was the beginning of my collection, I purchased that model, my first collectible, and since then I have loved bringing these beauties home.
The next one came a few months later, my parents were traveling on Indigo and they saw this new aircraft model in the catalogue, knowing how passionate I was about my collection they bought me the “A320 with Sharklets Wingtips” model. Then in September 2016, on a trip to Dubai, strolling in Dubai Mall I saw the Emirates store and thats where I bought my “Emirates Boeing 777-300ER” and “Airbus A380” aircraft model. Funnily, on my way back from Dubai at the Dubai dutyfree I saw this limited edition pack of Kinder Surprise Airbus A330 and the Kinderjoy chocolate eggs had these small models of planes as their surprise toy! As expected, the collector in me couldn’t resist and they were added to my collection.
Overtime my collection grew steadily, in 2017, GoAir was promoting their new aircraft, the Airbus A320neo and they sent me a GoAir A320neo aircraft model for my collection. The same year I travelled to Muscat and on my way back was flying OmanAir, from their inflight duty free I bought the “OmanAir B737 and A330” aircraft model. In 2018, I participated in the #9Wshotstories contest by Jet Airways and won the “Jet Airways Boeing 777-300ER” model.
My family and friends by now were well aware of my zeal and enthusiasm and kept me updated if they came across models that could be added to my collection, in 2019 one of my friends sent me an Amazon link for a “Jet Airways ATR 72-500” which I immediately purchased. Inspite of the Covid19 situation, I was still able to add a few planes to my collection in 2020. While flying to Delhi from Mumbai terminal 1, there was a shop near Gate no. 26, I purchased my “Air India A320neo” model from there. Again in 2020, during the Singapore Airshow, Lufthansa Technik gave me the “Lufthansa A380” aircraft model, at the same event Airbus gave me the “A350-1000” and Embraer gave me the “E190-E2 and KC 390” aircraft model.
As of today I have over 30 aircraft models in my collection, and next on my radar are the “Vistara A320”, “Indigo ATR” and the “AI 747-400” which I look forward to bringing home.