Flight track


I flew a six hour charity flight yesterday, 31Aug2012. The flight track was from Z98 to MGC to IGQ. I picked up ATC flight following after entering the South Bend radar coverage area. That flight track is completely missing. The next part of the flight was IGQ to MGC to MGN skirting the south shore of Lake Michigan up the Lake Michigan coast turning inland south of MKG. That was a 2.6 hour leg.

The final 1.5 hour leg was MGN to Z98.

What is interesting on Flightaware is that it appears that flight track data is dropped whenever there is an ATC turnover from one controller to another. For example on the MGN to Z98 leg, I was working with Minneapolis Center, then Chicago Center then turned over to Grand Rapids approach for advisory for the last 50 NM or so. Only the Grand Rapids portion of the southbound flight shows.

But it’s not a consistent event on Flightaware. Sometimes there is a handoff that shows up on the flight track, but mostly a turnover deletes the previous controllers portion. Sometimes a flight doesn’t make it on to Flightaware at all.

Does anyone know why this is? I would like to recommend the use of Flightaware to people who want to track my charity transport flights so they can determine when to show up at an airport. But the data seems to be inconsistent, making the tool untrustworthy.


You need to fly IFR for reliable tracking on FlightAware in the US.
Our feed from the FAA does not include VFR flights per FAA policy. For a while their implementation allowed a lot of VFR fights in, but in August 2010 they fixed it and we’ve seen few VFR flights since.

This and many other questions are covered in our FAQ, which is linked to at the bottom of every page: flightaware.com/about/faq.rvt#vfr