Newbie Flight Patern Question

Hello, I am brand new to FlightAware, within the last 24 hours actually, and also limited on my knowledge of aviation other than growing up hearing my father talk of his solo time in a single engine Cessna. I got interested in this site/app for the simple purpose of seeing the origin and destination of large commercial flights I occasionally see over my head. I live in the Northern Michigan (about 20 miles south of KPLN) and in just several flights I observed yesterday (04/07/16), I noticed an odd flight pattern that many international flights seem to take. Odd in the sense that some flights don’t seem to take a very direct route to the destination. Is this a matter of dealing with Jet Streams? Air Traffic? Pilot just wanting some OT? :laughing:

An example of a flight I noticed yesterday was from UUEE/SVO to MUHA/SAV. As you can see in the link below, it went way north, and then was heading almost due south by the time it got west to Michigan. My next thought was the fact that the Earth is a globe and the curvature of the globe is displayed this way on a flat map on a computer screen, but looking at the same flight scheduled for today (04/08/16), I see the flight pattern is already scheduled to come no where near Michigan. I see the same flight scheduled for 04/09/16 but as of now, there seems to be no flight path planned yet.

Links for these two flights are here:
04/07/16 … /UUEE/MUHA

04/08/16 … /UUEE/MUHA

Any insight would be appreciated, I am interested to learn more!

Some of it has to do with the great circle route. The map distorts the route a little.

The other part is that most aircraft must be within a certain distance from land(or an airport). They fly close to airports/land so that if there is a problem, they have a better chance of landing at an airport(not in the water).

There were more over water restrictions on twin engine aircraft in the past compared to now. Their reliability has been proven so they relaxed the rules.

Forecasted winds for the day. Look at elapsed time and miles flown for some of the flights and you’ll see some interesting numbers.

Hey thanks a lot to both of you, I appreciate the insight. And I will look into those numbers.

Read about what is called the North Atlantic Track System here:

Welcome to FA. I got started in a similar manner wondering about those planes coming over. I live under the approach to KMHR 22L. Take a look at the FA resources for your local airport KPLN, and learn about what the approach plates etc convey. Start with:
Beware of getting a Raspberry Pi and running piaware, it is a looong and slippery slope. But enjoyable.
Welcome aboard. :slight_smile:

Hey thank you, and wow that does sound like quite the slippery slope. I didn’t realize I’ve been looking into the Raspberry Pi setup for the last hour now, where has the time gone! Is it true that just from the “required” purchases you have a range of up to 250 miles? (Line of site) That seems like it would pick up anything flying overhead! After all this time though, I am hard pressed to figure out that the difference between the Raspberry and the FlightFeeder box?

And thank you to pthomas745, that makes things a lot more clear. That’s exactly what I was referring to, 12-15 hour flights from Europe to middle or western parts of the US that seemed to have no reason to go over my head in Northern Michigan. It’s all starting to piece together now, somewhat at least :laughing:

You will probably want something better than the small whip antenna that comes with most dongles (it’s fairly easy to build your own antenna that’s much better, or FA sells a couple of antennas if you’d rather have something preassembled), but other than that, yes you’ll basically pick up anything in line of sight, which can mean something flying at 35000ft, 200+ miles away; you’re limited by the curvature of the Earth and the location of the antenna more than anything…

Piaware is “build your own receiver” hardware/software. The FlightFeeders are “black box” turnkey receivers that FlightAware manufactures and sends out to areas where better coverage would be useful; they use different receiver hardware and they are remotely managed by FA rather than being a hobbyist thing you look after yourself.

Ok, that makes things much more clear, thank you. I noticed how the basic antenna looks like more of an indoor option that doesn’t seem like it would stand up to weather elements very well. I will look into the other options. Thanks again!

Ha, I now see the description indeed reads “with indoor antenna” Does that mean such an antenna would need to be brought outdoors to use? (for line of site) Any recommendations on a better outdoor model antenna?

FA sells a couple of antennas, see ads-b-flight-tracking-f21/new-inexpensive-1090mhz-antenna-for-sale-t35561.html (it’s out of stock right now, though I hear that more are on their way to amazon now); that’s probably one of the cheaper options for an outdoor preassembled antenna.

Or there are a whole bunch of ideas for different DIY antennas here (and elsewhere in the ADS-B forum): ads-b-flight-tracking-f21/three-easy-diy-antennas-for-beginners-t20177.html. You may have to get creative with the weatherproofing :wink:

You will get much better results if you can put the antenna outdoors with an unobstructed view of the sky. ADS-B signals really don’t like walls / windows / roofs much…