I’m a certified aviation geek and have been since a young age. The first time I flew on an airplane was a flight that took me from freezing cold New York to hot and sunny Florida in a couple of hours and ever since then, air travel has blown me away.

To this day, even with thousands of flights under my belt, I still marvel at the technology. How lucky are we to be able to travel the world in such a short period of time and to do so comfortably. The latter is especially true if you follow my tips!

In March 2020, COVID made the world feel a lot bigger as countries closed borders and airlines paused routes. But wouldn’t you know it, after a long two years, and just as we slowly but surely get back to pre-pandemic travel levels, the world all of sudden feels even larger. That’s all thanks to Russia’s president Putin’s unprovoked war with Ukraine.

No doubt you’ve seen news images of planes avoiding Ukraine and Russian airspace. Well, those screenshots are courtesy of Flightradar24.com. It’s a live flight tracking site with a real-time flight tracker map.

Their website is amazing but their app is even cooler and has made me a hit at parties and has even won me some bets at places like In-N-Out Burger at LAX, where you have an incredible view of landing airplanes. That’s because their app (available on both iOS and Android) has a function where you can point your phone at any plane in the sky and it will show you everything you need (and don’t need) to know about it, like the airline, type of aircraft, flight number, origin, destination, speed, altitude, flight time remaining, etc.

When I’m at a destination where there are planes flying by (like here in Waikiki, where I am right now and which is the inspiration for this story) and I hear someone say, “I wonder where that plane is coming from,” I tell them. When they ask how I know and I show them on the app, they’re always blown away. And they’re not aviation geeks either. I just think a lot of people have the same sense of appreciation and fascination when it comes to air travel.

So, the next time a plane is flying overhead and curiosity starts nagging at you, just whip out your phone, open the app and tap the AR button in the upper lefthand corner to find out.

FYI If you’re wondering how it works: Most aircraft are equipped with ADS-B transponders that transmit positional data. “Flightradar24 has a rapidly growing network of 20,000 ground stations to receive this data that then shows up as aircraft moving on a map in the app. In an expanding number of regions, with the help of multilateration, we’re able to calculate the positions of aircraft that don’t have ADS-B transponders.”

You’ll be happy to know that military planes don’t show up as I’ve tested it while vacationing here in Honolulu and there are a lot of government planes flying overhead.

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7 Comments On "The Flight Tracking App That Pilots Use"
  1. Joe|

    I have an ADSB receiver that shares data with Flight Aware and ADSB exchange. Military fllights are available on ADSB exchange if they are using ADSB while Flight Aware filters them out. By sharing my data I am able to get ad free views on ADSB exchange and enterprise user status on Flight Aware. Another advantage is my local view of the planes I am tracking is real time and not subject to delays. At the moment I am tracking 115 aircraft in the Charlotte NC area from my Raspberry Pi based receiver.

  2. Lorna Allenbrand|

    Downloaded the app because we are going on a trip to Germany in a couple of months. Disappointed to see that it costs &49.99 year to sign up!. Cancelled it right away. Sad.

  3. VegasWayne|

    I live about 10 miles from LAS (Las Vegas) airport and the app is great entertainment. I’ll put up with the ads and slower speed.

  4. Scott Phipps|

    If you download from Google play it’s only 9.99 for a silver membership

  5. John Hunter|

    I love opening the LiveATC website and listening to the air traffic controllers talk to the planes I am tracking on Flight radar24.
    An absolutely justifiable waste of time!!!

  6. Anonymous|

    What makes you think that the war was not provoked by Ukraine?

  7. Mark|

    If one has been paying attention to Russian activities since 2013, one would realize Russia invaded the Crimean peninsula, and has been actively supported it’s own surrogates in eastern Ukraine since then.
    What more basis could one reason why Russia wouldn’t continue it’s aggression. It was the Russian forces which massed on the border then charged into Ukraine. So how do you come up your question?

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