Last night I made the most amazing discovery – at least, amazing to a person who is a borderline geek when it comes to technology and airplanes.
Athena at thecallithumpian.wordpress.com, a wonderful blog, mentioned to me that she like to listen in on air traffic controllers. This got me thinking, “I wonder if I could do that.”
So I hop into the Internet and search until I find LiveATC, which has links to listen to air traffic control not just in your area, but all over the world – Australia, Ireland, Latvia… (even when I don’t speak the language, it’s cool just to do it.) You can listen with Flash, Java, or MP3 whichever suits you. They have a cool Twitter account too, if you like that sort of thing.
I was waiting for bread to rise anyway, so…
BUT THEN I found THIS site:
That’s right, people. Now I am able to WATCH the airplanes approach, and even click “cockpit view” to get a simulated graphic of the pilot’s perspective as they approach, take off, land and fly away.
Luckily, bread has to rise twice.
Earbuds in, I’m listening to the ATC as they guide the little airplane graphics in and out of airports. Audio + Video = Nirvana for Geek-Me. By mousing over the little airplane icons, I can see their flight numbers and connect them to the ATC chatter. By clicking on the airplane icons, a button appears at left and let’s me see the approach/takeoff FROM THE PILOT’S perspective. Yes. Really. Here’s a screen shot to prove it:
Clearly the next step in this journey is booking myself on one of the airplanes that now has WiFi in the Sky. Of course, you’ve almost always been able to listen to ATC on your airplane through the headphone jack, and some of the international flights have the progress map on the in-flight entertainment screen. I won’t be able to connect to WiFi until we are at cruising altitude, so the bird’s-eye view thing won’t work (for now) at take-off or landing.
I take consolation in the fact that I can probably catch a good deal of the descent. And frankly when I’m ON an airplane I’m more interested in what’s going on around me, or blogging, or getting to know my seat-buddy than plugging into this.
But when I’m grounded between flights? Ah, a sweet fix of the wild blue yonder…
Please let me know what cool tricks for following airplanes in the sky you’ve discovered.
Oh – and here’s the fruit of my time spent at LiveATC and FlightRadar24: