Timing of Flights on Map vs Real Time


Is there a standard amount of delay between when a flight passes over my town versus when the flight tracking map shows it crossing? I am continually going outside expecting to see an aircraft going overhead when the map shows it on a course that will have it doing so without success. I have experimented with lead time - seeing the flight on the map 5 to 10 minutes out (assuming the speed shown on the map) but still miss seeing them in person. I do have a pretty good view of the sky to the south and can watch airliners for around 10 minutes on east west routes. I’m assuming that is between 50 and 60 miles.
But I’ve had little success being able to match up what I’m seeing with what the flight tracker shows.

I live about 6 miles west of KVEL airport in Vernal Utah. I do see a lot of aircraft when I’m out and about but am not close to the computer. According to the Live Flight Tracker, we have a lot of flights from KLAX to Europe coming close to our town every day as well as a lot of domestic flights out of KSLC, KSFO, KDEN that also pass very close to our town.

I’d like to know if there is a timing trick to matching the tracker to my real time viewing. And would love hearing about how other users of the site have fared in their endeavors to do the same. Thanks.


Go to About FLightAware (on the left side of every page in this site) to read the FAQs. The delay is explained there in the first question.


Thanks very much rw812. Found it. From 30 seconds to 5 minutes. The variation of delay would explain some of my frustration. But having a better idea will surely help.


If you become a FlightAware feeder you get absolutely real-time results and help make those results better for everyone. It also shows the difference between ADS-B locates and MLAT, with the latter being much less certain.

Using a Raspberry Pi2 it’s pretty easy and fun. See details here: flightaware.com/adsb/piaware/build



I live in Memphis, Tennessee area … I have watched a lot of air traffic high up in the skies around here using my binoculars and tuned into FLIGHTAWARE just to compare what I am seeing and when I see it … Interesting stuff !!! Also, you may not be able to see some PRIVATE aircraft that are able to block their ATC data block displays by an option available from FAA that allows for such blocking of this data for security purposes, but it is all fun to sit here and watch the traffic high overhead and try to figure out who it is with FLIGHTAWARE !!!


If you have your own feeder the blocked aircraft are not blocked.
You can click on the aircraft id to see who owns it.

I have seen weird aircraft circling NYC for hours. Googling their callsign leads to conspiracy/government serveilence websites.
Another was just registered to a Native American tribe in Florida.


Ok … can you tell me about having your own feeder ? All the stuff we see on these screens are fed from FAA or are they not ?


Here is how to build your own feeder

Flightaware gets aircraft information from these and other devices as well as from other sources.
Some information is from the FAA.

A simple unit can cost as little as $US60 to put together.

One of mine has a small antenna that sits 3ft off the ground on my basement window bars. It can hear aircraft 60 miles away, in some directions. A roof mounted antenna can get 200-300 miles depending on location.

Flight aware makes it easy to setup with their own image on an sd card.