Flight Tracking

Mendel

Senior Member.
Public flight tracking sites like Flight Radar 24 collect ADS-B data from aircraft all around the world. (There are also sites tracking AIS data from ships, and sites that archive aviation weather reports called METARs for most major airports.) There are apps that let you identify a flight by pointing your smartphone at it. The flight tracking sites also have an archive, but the free version usually only goes back a few days, and you need a paid subscription to access it. That's where this comes in handy:
In case you didn't know ADSB Exchange now offers 1 year of flight data playback. It displays some military flights that FlightRadar24 does not. You can access the replay function at https://globe.adsbexchange.com/?r .

Anyway... I've checked for the time of this sighting, and there's nothing showing on ADBSExchange that isn't on FR24.

adsb.GIF

Also they offer the download of kmls (click on the plane, button "Export KML" appears bottom left.)

kml.GIF
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
Does anyone else have this issue with ADSB Exchange I click on a plane icon to select it, then when i click elsewhere on the map that plane vanishes from the view.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
Does anyone else have this issue with ADSB Exchange I click on a plane icon to select it, then when i click elsewhere on the map that plane vanishes from the view.
I experienced something similar, but not today. Usually, this happens when the connection to ADSB server was lost temporarily.
 
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Topbunk 2.0

Member
  • Does anyone know how to access historical flight data, say from as far back as the 1970s?
  • Do vintage aircraft at contemporary airshows feature in flight tracking datasets?
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
Flight tracking as we know it (ADS-B) only goes back as far as mid 2000's and then it took a while to become ubiquitous and then for things like FR24 etc to come online.

Anything that far back (70's) would basically be paper flight logs or flight plans and is probably not gettable unless historically interesting and in a museum or library, enthusiasts possession and also would not have the accuracy and resolution of ADS-B and may also be wrong based on plan not matching actual flight etc.

Yes vintage aircraft at contemporary airshows would have to have an ADS-B transmitter, if part of a formation probably only the lead aircraft would have the transmitter enabled.

Public ADS-B platforms provide only 3 years of data.
 

Duke

Active Member
  • Do vintage aircraft at contemporary airshows feature in flight tracking datasets?
Probably depends on the individual a/c. There is a Stearman based at a small airport nearby that I see frequently, but I've never seen on Flightradar24 or ADS-B Exchange. Conversely, I've seen a/c from the Collins Foundation and the Commemorative Air Force show up on numerous occasions. I've also watched warbirds at both Oshkosh and Fun 'n Sun on Flightradar24.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Probably depends on the individual a/c.
Article:
However, 14 CFR 91.225(e)—which provides comparable exemptions to the ADS-B Out requirement—specifies “any aircraft that was not originally certificated with an electrical system, or that has not subsequently been certified with such a system installed, including balloons and gliders.”

If you don't have an alternator on the aircraft, you can fly without ADS-B and go untracked. (Or take a battery-powered transponder for safety.)

There are also other exceptions, e.g. for flying low outside of class B and class C airspace, or a one-time permission thing for a specific flight.
 

Topbunk 2.0

Member
Yesterday there was a small single-prop aircraft doing a slow snaking pattern, like an aerial survey path, above us for a good hour but it didn't show on Flightradar24. Do you need a subscription to track small aircraft? Is there another tool that can be used?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Yesterday there was a small single-prop aircraft doing a slow snaking pattern, like an aerial survey path, above us for a good hour but it didn't show on Flightradar24. Do you need a subscription to track small aircraft? Is there another tool that can be used?
Not all small planes have ADS-B transponders, they are not required outside of controlled airspace. It's also possible it was simply not working.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.

Topbunk 2.0

Member
Though I think the inner area with the orange lines is the airport airspace, that would probably be controlled down to the ground
If that's so can a small plane, like the one below, (which I think is flying just outside of the more controlled airspace North of me) turn their transponder off in such controlled airspace? Is OGN/FLARM the same device or is it independent to ADS-B? Meaning, can a plane fly with them both off?
We're right under the flightpath to London heliport (south of the blue dot) and often see helicopters at around 1,700ft. I estimate the plane I saw was above that (est. 2,000-2,500ft) circling back and forth it passed directly overhead - but it didn't show up on FR24.
IMG_2542.jpeg
 

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Mendel

Senior Member.
If that's so can a small plane, like the one below, (which I think is flying just outside of the more controlled airspace above me) turn their transponder off in such controlled airspace?
No. But I don't think they're in controlled airspace.
Is OGN/FLARM the same device or is it independent to ADS-B?
FLARM is independent and not meant to be picked up by ground stations, so I don't think FR24 would show it.
Article:
FLARM (an acronym based on 'flight alarm') is the proprietary name for an electronic device which is in use as a means of alerting pilots of small aircraft, particularly gliders, to potential collisions with other aircraft which are similarly equipped. [...] The 'problem' with FLARM is, however, that it does not transmit any signal detectable by ACAS or ADS-B.


Meaning, can a plane fly with them both off?
Sure, why not? or turn ADS-B off and leave FLARM on.
We're right under the flightpath to London heliport (south of the blue dot) and often see helicopters at around 1,700ft. I estimate the plane I saw was above that (est. 2,000-2,500ft) circling back and forth it passed directly overhead - but it didn't show up on FR24.
Watford is at ~200 ft elevation, as long as they're not higher than 2300 ft. AGL (for a total altitude of 2500 ft), they're good.
 

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Topbunk 2.0

Member
I don't think they're in controlled airspace.
I'm referring to the blue dot in the images above as the location of the plane I saw. The plane near Watford was just used as an example of the kind of plane I'd seen circling above my location, but which didn't show up on any tracker I could find.
FLARM is independent and not meant to be picked up by ground stations, so I don't think FR24 would show it.
The FR24 app shows it.

IMG_2541.jpeg
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
The FR24 app shows it.
Yes, but a) the reach of FLARM is limited due to its low power, and b) I don't believe the FR24 volunteer receivers pick it up. That's why FLARM coverage may be limited.

I don't know the rules for London CTR, if that's where it is.

Note also that FR24 suppresses tracks of certain aircraft, e.g. military.
 

Topbunk 2.0

Member
Flight tracking being new to me, how common is it to see aircraft in controlled airspace over a city but not be able to see them on a tracker?
 

Topbunk 2.0

Member
What appears to be the same single engine fixed wing plane described in #8 has been doing loops overhead for 30 mins from around 21:30pm, was slightly cloudy, now totally overcast. Doesn't appear on Flightradar 24 or the NATS Airspace Explorer app. Military? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 

flarkey

Senior Member.
Staff member

Topbunk 2.0

Member
This should let you view replay data...
Thanks again. So the plane I saw doesn't appear here. These are the tracks for the time period it was overhead. I've annotated it (red circle) with what I think was the approximate loop it flew repeatedly. I watched with binoculars for a while. Given its position within the flight corridors to Heathrow is it some kind of spotter plane for air traffic control? Screenshot 2022-11-17 at 23.43.40.png
 

Duke

Active Member
Thanks again. So the plane I saw doesn't appear here. These are the tracks for the time period it was overhead. I've annotated it (red circle) with what I think was the approximate loop it flew repeatedly. I watched with binoculars for a while. Given its position within the flight corridors to Heathrow is it some kind of spotter plane for air traffic control? Screenshot 2022-11-17 at 23.43.40.png
Were you able to identify the a/c type, or at least see it well enough to describe it? High wing? Low wing? Fixed landing gear?
 

flarkey

Senior Member.
Staff member
Given its position within the flight corridors to Heathrow is it some kind of spotter plane for air traffic control?
I think that's unlikely.

From my aviation enthusiast* experience there's two likely options for what this might be....

A P68 of the National Police Air Service used to watch criminals and events.

G-POLZ-1667919602-0.jpg
A Britten-Norman Islander (although these may be out of service now), used by the RAF for watching and listening to naughty people.

800px-RAF_Northolt_2009_BN_Islander_CC2_RAF.jpg

Did it look like any of these?

Edit: Probably not, if it was a single prop aircraft....
Yesterday there was a small single-prop aircraft doing a slow snaking pattern, like an aerial survey path, above us for a good hour but it didn't show on Flightradar24. Do you need a subscription to track small aircraft? Is there another tool that can be used?



*Plane spotter.
 
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Duke

Active Member
I think that's unlikely.

From my aviation enthusiast* experience there's two likely options for what this might be....

A P68 of the National Police Air Service used to watch criminals and events.

G-POLZ-1667919602-0.jpg
A Britten-Norman Islander (although these may be out of service now), used by the RAF for watching and listening to naughty people.

800px-RAF_Northolt_2009_BN_Islander_CC2_RAF.jpg

Did it look like any of these?

Edit: Probably not, if it was a single prop aircraft....
That's exactly what I was thinking. I saw those Islanders very frequently over Belfast when they were operated by the Army Air Corps.

*Plane spotter.
Did you have a blue anorak?
 
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Topbunk 2.0

Member
Did it look like any of these?
No. We saw it again this morning on the school run. My son (sporting his bergundy anorak) said it was a Cessna. To my eye it was the same kind of plane I watched last night. They fly them at North London Flight school directly North of us, but on the trackers they only appear close to their airport, never directly above us.
 

Topbunk 2.0

Member
I managed to get a couple of shots (taken through binoculars with an iPhone). Not sure if this is the same plane but it's typical of the kind of aircraft I see regularly flying in a wide circle. Again they don't show on the trackers. Now i'm not even sure if it's a single prop or not...
Screenshot 2022-11-22 at 13.49.26.pngScreenshot 2022-11-22 at 13.49.17.png
 

flarkey

Senior Member.
Staff member
Hey @Mendel (oops, I mean @Topbunk 2.0 ) I posted your pic and FR24 track on a London Plane Spotters page, and the suggestion was it it was likely a rather sneaky Islander, registration G-BJOH that flies out of Northolt. It wouldn't appear on flight trackers due to the nature of it's work supporting Police operations.

Your image
Screenshot 2022-11-22 at 13.49.26.png

Spylander
48709625168_b721f6ef41.jpg
 
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