I have been plane spotting for about 3 years now. Been collecting pictures for 1 and a half years. Once, I went plane spotting from the Udvar-Hazy Center Tower at Washington-Dulles International Airport. With my iPhone in one hand and my small Nikon Coolpix L120 in the other, I was catching literally every plane that came in.
Somebody saw my phone and how I was tracking the planes and asked me when the Air France A380 was due in! I looked at my phone and answered "exactly 3:21 PM,"
"How did you know that?" the person asked me.
"Flightaware.com," I answered.
This just reminded me on how I track planes and also rose a question. Which tracker is the best?
Usually, I use a mix of Flightaware.com and FlightRadar24.com. I don't really prefer one over the other as they both have their own purposes. I will usually look on Flightaware to check up on flight numbers. Then, I look on FlightRadar24 to get the exact position and registration.
FlightAware has always been one of my favorite trackers. It lists all of the flights that are inbound to pretty much every airport in the world as long as it the plane is flying on a flight plan and the airport could be tracked through ADS-B radar. It even tracks all General Aviation planes that are unblocked, flying on a flight plan, and have a working Mode C Transponder (which is almost everything!)
However, if you want premium features such as up to the second tracking, registrations, and alerts you have to pay a monthly fee.
That is FlightRadar24's advantage. It offers free up to the minute tracking, registrations, and squawk codes.
That program also has a catch. You can only track for 30 minutes. However, that is fine because unless you want to use a large amount of data just to watch a plane move, you only check it within 10 minute intervals and don't leave the page open for more than 2 minutes.
FlightRadar24 can't track regular General Aviation stuff and older planes as they don't have any method of reporting position.
Lets rest this case here, I love and use both regularly.
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