Aviation geeks take on a geolocation challenge!

Your airport is "not generic". The geeks will find you every time

The night before my son and I were due to depart on a trip honoring my late father — a trip dad had lovingly planned before he died of Covid-19 earlier this year — I had a conversation with a friend about American airports.

It was my first trip out West, and I was excited. In the midst of my excitement, I said something like, “And of course, I want to check out the airports.”

To which my friend replied, “They’re extremely generic, I bet you couldn’t even do a proper geolocation challenge out there.”

In the immortal words of Barney Stinson, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

I posted this picture during the first leg of our trip:

I was geolocated in exactly five minutes.

My precise location at the glorious Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport was named less than ten minutes into the game.

My friend was pretty surprised. I was not, however.

To be clear, there are many, many ways to geolocate me here. The building in the background, the bit of landscape, the floor beneath my feet, the bench, and my digital footprint would be enough for anyone willing to play the long game.

However, who needs to do all that when the planes are right there?

This answer is a good summation of how exactly one would go about it:

Oh, hello! Here’s that livery:

And this tweet is a very good summation of how aviation Twitter — #avgeek Twitter, to be precise — operates:

Honestly, this is one of my favorite online subcultures, because they win every time AND they are extremely good at open source intelligence. Whenever there is breaking news and any kind of travel is involved, aviation Twitter is great to check in with, because they’ll be telling you what relevant planes have been spotted where.

The other thing about aviation Twitter is that it’s simply beautiful. You wind up looking at a bunch of gorgeous planes every time. You’re not just learning from them, you’re also enjoying yourself. It’s not nearly as depressing as many other Twitter subcultures utilizing open source intelligence — well, not all the time, anyway.

I truly recommend you follow the hashtag if you want to learn more.

Of course, this isn’t the only reason why this exercise is important. We can get so lulled by the “generic” feel of our airports, that we can compromise our security in the process. Sure, your stalker probably won’t try to come after you at a post-9/11 airport — not unless they’re extremely stupid, anyway — but the false sense of safety can mean that we’re transmitting the details of our trips to people who may wish to do us harm.

The place where I’m sitting didn’t quite give away my final destination — I posed for a picture before we got on the SkyLink train to go to our actual terminal — but it could have. I’m well-versed in the art of opsec, but what about your aunt who has a vengeful ex and isn’t aware about the possibilities?

This is why I always ask you guys to forward these very much publicly available posts to your relatives. It’s not just about keep us safe, it’s about keeping those we love safe as well. This is the reason why I have devoted so much of my newsletter to make it as easy and beginner-friendly as possible.

Now, while this was a very easy challenge for those of us who are in the know, I have a few that are harder in the works. Please stay with me for more! And please don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, @NataliaAntonova, if you want to play.

P.S. And as for the mention of my lipstick in my original tweet? There’s a MAC store not far from where I’m sitting 😊

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