Planes in the sky over Mt. Airy, MD


I live in Mount Airy, Maryland. How can I tell if the planes I see are going to/from Baltimore or Dulles Airport?


Last but not least…

Others can answer this better than me, but other than looking at the little map for each airport (their specific traffic would be the blue planes), taking into account the 5-10 minute delay, that might work, but it will still be a guessing game.


Traffic landing at BWI flies about 12 miles north of Mt Airy from west to east. I’m not sure what altitude the traffic would be at.

Traffic landing at Dulles flies about 15 miles west of Mt Airy from North to south at about 4,000 feet.

You also have the Frederick Municipal Airport 12 miles west of you. Smaller aircraft flying lower very well may headed to that airport.


I know there are different approach patterns for every airport, but that seems awfully low for 15 miles out. I’m about 18 miles S of KCLE, and aircraft approaching from the south fly over around 10,000 ft.


I’m 20 nm out from KSEA and ~14 nm from KBFI and I see arrivals en route to SEA fly over at 3000 ft and I’ve seen a UPS 767-300F fly over my house at 2000 MSL en route to BFI.


I think you’re right, Planeaholic. 4,000’ is the minimum altitude for that leg. Reviewing the SELINSGROVE1 arrival procedure again, it says to “expect to cross [the MULRR intersection] at 8,000 feet”. I think they’d be closer to 8,000’ than 4,000’ when passing by Mt. Airy, MD.

As for BWI - looking at things closer there: I plotted the RUANE intersection and the EMI VOR into my GPS map software, and I see that planes into BWI pass by Mt. Airy 5nm to the north going west to east. The WESTMINSTER5 arrival says to expect to cross RUANE at 11,000 feet.

So the higher planes to your north, going west to east are going to BWI. The lower planes to your west, going from north to south are going into Dulles.


I am overwhelmed by the quality of responses! Thanks for the depth of research! We often see planes going East to West at low altitudes when the summer storms come in. Where do you think these planes are going? It is something to watch-one right after another!-

I am having a difficult time locating the ATIS for KIAD and KBWI. I do not seem to know where to find them on airport information.

FYI: March 18, 2005 we had a great experience above our house. A F-15 flew around our house at extremely low altitude-low enough to see the pilots head-better than the Frederick air show by far-any comments?

Here is another crazy question. We have seen military aircraft escort private planes around our home, but one day we saw circles or rings being created very high and we could hear the jets but could not see them. After the rings were created, two F-14s appeared, but they were not very low. What do you think the rings were all about?

Thanks for being willing to consider many questions from a novice!

#8 … LL/all/pdf … LL/all/pdf

Should give you all and and more about frequencies, approaches and so on.



Contrails from the F-14s circling at altitude while station keeping.


Are the planes large airliners, or small, private airplanes? The direction from Mt Airy to Frederick Municipal is right in line with Frederick Municipal’s runway 30. (AIRPORT DIAGRAM) If they’re not big airliners, then my best guess is that they’re headed to Frederick.


Are the planes large airliners, or small, private airplanes? The direction from Mt Airy to Frederick Municipal is right in line with Frederick Municipal’s runway 30.

Thanks for your reply. They are large airliners, apparently avoiding the bad weather. They are fairly low and appear to be on approach for landing. Is your best guess BWI or Dulles?