Transport Trackers – Your New Timewaster
by Stephanie Williams
It was almost 2am and US singer Halsey had just finished her set and was being whisked off stage at Falls Festival and into her waiting Tesla.
On the road out, just by chance our photographer James was heading home. He was overtaken by the convoy and sat behind them all the way back into Hobart. Halsey’s car peeled off to the left at the Airport and she was delivered to the waiting private jet on the tarmac. Being in the know with plane trackers, James was able to watch the plane takeoff on the tracker app on his phone. Within an hour or so of finishing her set, Halsey was well over Bass Strait and onto her next show. James was able to see that the plane had come most recently that evening from Geelong (near Lorne where another Falls Festival event was scheduled, but cancelled) and was heading toward Byron. Privacy aside, it was a fascinating hour and an insight into how celebs get transported around.
There are a few different apps and websites that track transport. Calling on satellite information gathered from Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) receivers, they share real-time information about thousands of aircraft around the world. One of the most popular is Flightradar24 (www. flightradar24.com). It started as a hobby project in 2006 when two Swedish aviation enthusiasts (#avgeeks) built a network of ADS-B receivers in Northern and Central Europe.
“At any given time there are thousands and thousands of planes in the air”
In 2009 they decided to open up the network for anyone with an ADS-B receiver to upload data. Many parts of the world were quickly covered, but we’re told they’re constantly expanding coverage. On the site you can click on any plane and get stats on take off time, how long until it lands, the exact path it’s taken and even a pic of it, which is particularly interesting if it’s a vintage aeroplane or private jet! You can also identify helicopters too.
It’s compelling to see what’s happening in different airspace around the world (hello Ukraine, Syria, Libya) or to take a peek at a random plane flying off by itself on the map.
If you’re concerned about emissions from planes through, it will probably turn you even further off plane travel. At any given time there are thousands and thousands of planes in the air, Flight Radar even has a counter of how many flights are occurring in real time. Next time you’re running late to the airport to pick up visitors, don’t panic! Pop in their flight number and you can get a visual on where they are and if you need to hotfoot it to the airport. ■