Meet Israel's youngest plane spotter

At the tender age of five, Tom Oirengel took a liking to watching airplanes take off and land, but soon enough, with the help of his mentor/mother, the talented young boy began immortalizing breathtaking aircraft snaps through his camera lens

Daniel Salami|
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.
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  • Plane spotting is a growing practice in Israel, and there is already a small community of aircraft photographers, some boasting expensive professional equipment.
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    בפעולה. טום הספוטר הצעיר
    בפעולה. טום הספוטר הצעיר
    Tom Oirengel in action
    (Photo: Agness Oirengel)
    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.
    11 View gallery
    טום ואמו הגאה אגנס
    טום ואמו הגאה אגנס
    Tom Oirengel and his mother Agness
    (Photo: Courtesy of the family)
    "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.
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    "מטוס יום הדין" של ארצות הברית
    "מטוס יום הדין" של ארצות הברית
    U.S. Doomsday plane
    (Photo: Tom Oirengel)
    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."
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    מטס עצמאות  מטס עצמאות
    מטס עצמאות  מטס עצמאות
    Independence Day flyby
    (Photo: Tom Oirengel)
    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.
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    בבסיס אראקסוס יוון, במסגרת תרגיל נאט"ו
    בבסיס אראקסוס יוון, במסגרת תרגיל נאט"ו
    North Atlantic Treaty Organization aircraft
    (Photo: Tom Oirengel)
    Do you remember the first picture you took?
    "The first plane was the Antonov An-225 Mriya (which was destroyed during Russia's invasion of Ukraine), but he was too big so I couldn't get a good shot of all of it," Tom says.
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    הספיק לצלם את מטוס האנטונוב 124 רוסלאן שנחרב במלחמת אוקראינה ורוסיה
    הספיק לצלם את מטוס האנטונוב 124 רוסלאן שנחרב במלחמת אוקראינה ורוסיה
    Antonov An-225 Mriya
    (Photo: Tom Oirengel)
    "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."
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    קבלת הפנים עם זרנוקי המים של אמירייטס בנתב"ג
    קבלת הפנים עם זרנוקי המים של אמירייטס בנתב"ג
    Ben Gurion Airport welcomes the first passenger plane from the United Arab Emirates
    (Photo: Tom Oirengel)
    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."
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    מטוסי אף 15 במטס יום העצמאות מעל תל אביב
    מטוסי אף 15 במטס יום העצמאות מעל תל אביב
    Israeli F-15 during Independence Day flyby
    (Photo: Tom Oirengel)
    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.
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    מדהים. ציפור ומטוס של קתאי יחד בפריים
    מדהים. ציפור ומטוס של קתאי יחד בפריים
    A plane and a bird
    (Photo: Tom Oirengel)
    What's your favorite plane to take photos of?
    "I think the Antonov, but I also really liked taking photos of Air Force One."
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    האייר פורס וואן המפורסם
    האייר פורס וואן המפורסם
    Air Force One
    (Photo: Tom Oirengel)
    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."
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    טקס סוף קורס טייס
    טקס סוף קורס טייס
    (Photo: Tom Oirengel)

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