In the mornings, he is a third-grade student, and during the rest of the day, he is an aircraft spotter. Meet 8-year-old Tom Oirengel who has taken up quite a unique hobby for his age.
Plane spotting is a growing practice in Israel, and there is already a small community of aircraft photographers, some boasting expensive professional equipment.
Some arrive countless times a year at several locations at and near the Ben Gurion Airport to get the perfect snap of a plane landing or taking off. Only this time, we met with probably the youngest photographer who manages to catch planes with his lens just like an expert.
Tom first took interest in plane spotting when he was just five years old when he asked his mother to take him to see planes at the Sde Dov Airport.
"When he was just five, he already started to drag me to the airport. He had a class near the airfield, and that's where he saw planes landing and taking off for the first time," his mother Agness tells Ynet with a smile.
"I thought taking him to Ben Gurion Airport would be a form of entertainment for him maybe once or twice a year and that's it. I didn't think we would be there so many times.
He started watching videos of airplanes on YouTube, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, when we had fewer things to do, we drove to the airport to see the planes. And all of the sudden, he started sharing absurd amounts of knowledge about aircraft with me. I was really shocked."
But capturing photos at Israeli airfields wasn't enough, and the two soon found themselves catching flights to further pursue Tom's photography hobby overseas. For instance, in Greece, they took photos of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) fighter jets during exercises.
Do you remember the first picture you took?
"At first, I was taking photos with my cellphone, now I have a camera with various lenses and accessories."
Can you explain your passion for planes?
"I love taking photos of planes and I'm having a lot of fun doing so. I like to see them take off and land."
According to Tom, at first, he just loved to watch them, but as time passed, the desire to take photos and document began budding in him.
How did your friends respond to your hobby?
"My friends love it and say it's fun, they keep asking questions about airplanes and I even did a lecture once for the entire class. I showed them photos I took across Israel and Greece."
Where did you learn to take photos like that?
"My mom taught me, she explained everything about how to use the camera, and control its features. The lens is sometimes large and heavy, so it's hard for me to hold the camera stable, therefore I take better photos during the day, but I will get better at night shoots.
What's your favorite plane to take photos of?
"I think the Antonov, but I also really liked taking photos of Air Force One."
What do you want to do when you grow up?
"I want to work at the airport and watch airplanes all day. I want to keep taking photos of planes."