Montreal·Video

Plane spotters track runway action from Dorval park

On sunny summer afternoons, aviation enthusiasts of all ages gather in Jacques-de-Lesseps Park near Trudeau Airport to watch planes take off and land.

Park just for aviation enthusiasts offers front-row views of planes taking off and landing at Trudeau Airport

Jean Claude Trudeau has been plane spotting in Dorval since he was 10. (Craig Desson/CBC)

On sunny summer afternoons, aviation enthusiasts of all ages gather in Jacques-de-Lesseps Park in Dorval to watch planes take off and land. 

In the aviation community, they're known as 'spotters,' and the park, built right next to a runway, was designed with their hobby in mind. 

Plane spotting at Trudeau Airport in Montreal 2:03

Spotters come out to see what kinds of planes are arriving and the destinations of the ones taking off. 
 
They use binoculars, radio scanners and flight-tracking apps like Flightradar24 to find out the model of planes taking off and landing, where they're heading or where they came from.

Jacques-de-Lesseps Park, wedged between the airport and the Côte de Liesse Expressway, was the first plane spotting park in Canada when it opened in 2012.   

Jacques-de-Lesseps Park is on the west side of Trudeau Airport. (Google Maps)

It was named for a French aviator lost at sea off the coast of Gaspé in 1927.

The park offers spotters raised bleachers and a large man-made hill to help them peer over the runway fence.  

On Sunday, the park was packed with spotters and picnickers who had come out to watch the action. 

Tamara Batch has been plane spotting for about 15 years.  She's been coming to the park since it opened, but she also goes to other popular Montreal spotting locations like a cul-de-sac on Pitfield Boulevard in Montreal's Saint-Laurent borough. 

"I've always had an interest in plane spotting. The fact that there are people travelling somewhere — there's a mystery to it," said Batch. "We don't know where they're going or when they're coming back."

"Also they're very impressive machines." 

Jean Claude Trudeau, another plane spotter, comes to the park almost every day, often hanging around until until 9 p.m. 

"I love planes," said Trudeau.  

He caught the spotting bug young.  His father first took him to the Dorval airport almost 50 years ago.

"When they lift off, I love it."

Spotting at the park isn't only for aviation enthusiasts.  Some people stop by to watch planes land just before heading to the terminal. 

Evgeniia Shcherbatova did just that on Saturday on her way to meet her fiancé, who was flying back from Calgary. She hadn't seen him since May. 

"My father was a pilot, so I love watching planes," she said. 

"It's a good moment to take advantage of the sunshine." 

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