Taping pilot-ATC conversations a hobby, says detained Britons

New Delhi: A hobby has proved costly for two British nationals detained at a posh hotel near the airport here for allegedly recording conversations between aircraft pilots and the Air Traffic Control (ATC).

The two British -- Stephen Hampston (46) and Steve Martin (55) -- were detained by security officials along with hi-tech gadgets from a room at Radisson hotel located in the periphery of the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Official sources said the two British nationals had called up the hotel from London before their trip to India specifically demanding a room overlooking the airport.

"The investigators were shocked to find that they were recording the conversation between pilots and the ATC which is totally illegal," a senior Home Ministry official said.

The duo had checked in four days ago and were now being questioned now by officials of security agencies. When confronted about the recording, they told interrogators that it was their hobby, raising serious security concern.

Sources said the duo, who were also believed to be tracking the movement of flights arriving and departing from the airport, were allegedly in possession of powerful binoculars and other sophisticated equipment.

Delhi Police has been asked to find out the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act violated by the British nationals and if so directed them to book the duo.

The British High Commission has been informed about their detention.

Some blogs available on the internet put up the conversation between pilots and the ATC.