Is there a way to find out if there was a problem in my local airspace today?
Driving home this afternoon, I noticed a plane in a startling unusual flight path; for the next quarter of an hour or so, I noticed several other planes in an uncommon flight path (though not as startling so).
It’s a beautiful day here; clear, with a few high(?) clouds, no evidence of strong winds in the trees or the clouds, no reason why a plane would use a different path.
That plane was just in the wrong place and moving the wrong way, and I’m curious as to why.
If one of the runways at your local airport was closed that might have driven aircraft into unusual patterns. Or if there was a temporary restriction around something like a major ground disaster or public or political event.
I don’t know of a good website for looking up stuff like that once it’s over. There are of course websites where pilots can look up stuff like that before it takes effect and while it’s in effect. Sadly that stuff is usually disseminated in severe mumbo-jumbo not readily decodable by folks not in the aviation game.
Thank you for FlightAware - I used to have a link to an FAA page like that, but I can’t find it. That’s kind of terrifying, all those planes in the air.
I watch the flight tracking for awhile; the planes are all landing and taking off the way I would expect - nothing is moving the way that plane did this afternoon. But the wind might have shifted to a different quarter - 40 to 50 degrees - at the time …
I don’t like planes going in unexpected directions around my airport; it has not boded well in the past.
FlightAware is great for tracking an incoming flight if you’re going to meet someone, or an outbound flight to know when they’ve arrived. Some of the info is very accurate and comes from real time telemetry, but sometimes it’s estimated and can be way wrong, especially when something unusual happens. Interesting case in point here. I checked FlightWare after the fact on that particular flight, and it really looked bizarre. The Air Canada flight from Tel Aviv to Toronto seemed to track normally for a while and then poof! It just sort of disappeared, never to be heard from again. Then a little while later, that exact same flight was being tracked as a departure from Frankfurt, where it had no business being, and then a normal track to Toronto.
What actually happened was really quite wonderful. As they were over Germany and about to head out over the Atlantic, the pilot noticed that the cargo hold heater wasn’t working. He knew that there was a dog down there and it would be at risk in the severe cold of the long Atlantic crossing. So the plane – a Boeing 777 if I remember – made an unscheduled landing at Frankfurt and deplaned the dog, Simba. Simba was put on a later and properly heated flight and reunited with his extremely grateful owner in Toronto. Most of the passengers were strongly supportive of the slight inconvenience. FlightAware, however, was thoroughly confused!
The plyaback on Flightradar24 has been quite flaky of late.
If you go to www.planefinder.net you can play back the flights at any time, so if you can remember when the “unusual” flights were, you may be able to find them.
(Click the triangle “playback” button at top right, and then choose the right time and date. I’m not sure if the time accounts for your local time zone, but it shows the UTC at the bottom so you can work it out.)
…or ADS-B. I have a USB dongle connected to a small antenna that logs the position data broadcast by nearly all aircraft these days. FlightAware.com is actually subsidizing the cost of these units as they want to crowdsource the gathering of aircraft flight data.
I share my data with http://adsbexchange.com instead for now. Where Flight Aware delays all displayed positions by 15 minutes, ADSBexchange shows true live data, including military traffic and aircraft who’s owners have requested the commercial sites omit their data.
Yes, anyone can view temporary flight restrictions and NOTAMs. You can even get emailed notices when something juicy is going to be happening in your area of the country so you can know ahead of time when you need to polish your bolt action rifle and go for a road trip. Many of these notices are vague though and just say things “VIP movement”, so you won’t know if it’s somebody really important like the president or just some pleb.
It would not be feasible to hide this information from the public, because the public is exactly who needs to know. (It doesn’t really work to close airspace but not tell anyone about it, you realize.) Every Billy Bob with a pilot’s license needs to be able to get the information, and there’s really nothing stopping a bad guy from getting a license. Non-pilot company employees also need the info. Not possible to restrict it.
300 years of accumulated cow-paths produce quite a spaghetti pile don’t they? I often walk the back streets in Chelsea. I’ve gone a couple miles on a cloudy day and suddenly emerged a block from where I started. I blamed it on the worm-holes.