This is a very basic question. I don’t know how to get information about aircraft that fly over my house.
On flightaware, and other web sites, I see how to start with specific flight numbers or tail numbers, but I want to start with location.
** I want to learn tail numbers of aircraft that fly over me. **
I’m more interested in helicopter traffic than fixed-wing, but in any case, i want to start with location and then learn identity. I realize it will be a few years before all helicopters have ADS-B. I’ve had some success with photography, but it is quite difficult to catch the tail number of a helicopter with a camera. Requires long telephoto lens and good technique, and luck, and of course only works in the daytime.
Can I discover the identity of aircraft flying over me via flightaware?
If so, please point me to the right page or menu.
If not, would I be able to do this with my own ADS-B receiver and some software or some other web site?
Your best bet is probably your own receiver, especially if you’re interested in low-flying traffic. ADS-B is approximately line of sight so at lower altitudes the effective receiver range is much shorter; there may not be an existing receiver that’s suitable for the area immediately around you. You can set up a basic receiver with a Raspberry Pi and a RTLSDR dongle pretty cheaply; if you’re only interested in aircraft that are relatively close (i.e. can be photographed!) then you don’t need to worry much about the antenna either - you don’t need 400km range! - probably the standard antenna that comes with the dongle will be fine.
There is also Flightaware’s new Android feeder app that may be simpler if you just want an ad-hoc receiver. (this needs an android tablet/phone + a RTLSDR dongle + a suitable OTG cable).
That said, ADS-B gives you the 24-bit ICAO identifier, not the tail number. You will need some way to do that conversion (often the national registries will do this, or there are some databases floating around)
Ok! I followed the flightaware “build a PiAware ADS-B receiver” instructions. It is now working. I’m looking at the data using PlanePlotter. Need a little bit more help.
I need to understand how to convert those 24-bit ICAO identifiers to some useful form. I googled and googled, and have not found a way to do this. I must not be using the right keywords, or something. Also visited the ICAO web site, FAA web site, etc. I live in the US, so if this is going to be a search of a national registration database, it should be for the US I suppose, although I am near Mexico.
Plane plotter displays a registration number for some messages, but not others (PP’s “aircraft view”). Does that mean the registration number is sometimes in the message? Or is PlanePlotter looking these guys up for me somehow?
For example ICAO A5897B shows reg N456MB. That’s fine. However, some messages don’t show a registration.
Examples of ICAO identifiers I’ve seen today without a registration number…