FlightAware Discussions

Short trips for cargo planes

I’m fairly new to tracking aircraft… just for the fun of it. I’m not a pilot and my knowledge is fairly limited but I’ve noticed a few things that just hit me funny. One of them is something I’ve seen happen several times over the past 24 hours… cargo flights going to and from Travis AFB in Fairfield to or from McClellan or Mather (former Air Force bases in the Sacramento area). These flights are about 10 minutes, or about an hour by ground (56 miles to McClellan and 51 miles to Mather). The one I just saw was an Air Transport International 757 going from McClellan to Travis. Last night was another company’s 747-400 going from Travis to Mather. I have no idea what is being hauled but seems like the cost of fuel for such a relatively short transport would be rather expensive. It just makes me wonder.

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Welcome to the tracking world :slight_smile:

Wikipedia lists Air Transport International doing DOD contract work. It could be those are stops on a muliti hop delivery flight.
I’m just across the lake in El Dorado hills and built a 978 cantenna but, being down in the valley, I got very little traffic.

A cantenna or spider are quite easy to make quickly. A colinear is easy to make, and easier to make badly. Details can be found at


My understanding is the aircraft are staged at McClellan. They are cleaned after prior use, supplied with food and beverages and readied for flight to Travis where they will pick up passengers there.


First-timer here, living in the vicinity of KMHR so I thought I’d add some details.

Both Mather and McClellan, but especially Mather have a lot of Air Reserve traffic. And those Kalitta Air 747’s are frequent visitors, for some reason, on Friday evenings - see for instance:

18 minute flight in a 744. I guess working for the military means you don’t have to worry about what the fuel costs. No idea what they carry - but 744’s these days are usually freight.

And it ain’t quiet - though they’re obviously trying to be nice, there’s only so much you can do with a 744 low and slow. I originally found Flightaware from a noise-tracking web site.

UPS (the major heavy jet operator at MHR outside of the military) in general is pretty quiet (763 especially, 752 OK, A306 and MD11 not so much; then there’s the Christmas season when anything that will fly gets used including many contractors and all noise bets are off). E145’s (HGST - Intel’s airline) and some bizjets are almost silent. DHL (SOO) runs an old 734 that is definitely loud. Then there’s the military traffic not listed in Flightaware - F16, various cargo aircraft, even an occasional U-2 doing practice approaches. You haven’t had noise until you’ve been near C-17s (and even, once, a C-5) doing touch & go, though I might grant an exception to that for being near an AFB with B-52s and F4s (showing my age, and I’ve been there, in Merced and Fresno). But it all comes in spurts, mostly (except UPS) in the daytime, and generally only disturbs those who want to be disturbed.