I began tracking aircraft years ago, in fact, it is hard to believe it was over eight years ago per my tracking accounts. Wow, time flies. My reasons and needs to track aircraft have changed over the years. I now have an ADS-B unit to track aircraft in my area. That entitles me to a free Enterprise level account that can cost about $90/month if I had to pay for that level – which I wouldn’t. This enables the data from my feeder to go into the data received by everyone – including pilots. I have multiple tracking accounts and for multiple reasons.
I am an investigative researcher and have been for years. I got to the point this year after several comments from people that I’m not just a researcher, I actually do a lot of investigating above and beyond what many people do. I’m constantly increasing my abilities and try to keep learning. I am also completely for training and mentoring others who can carry on the work.
I started tracking JANET flights in and out of Las Vegas to the points beyond. This airline is famously known by Bob Lazar’s revelations about Area 51. The airline mainly serves Area 51 and the Tonopah Test Range from the Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport. As a researcher who doesn’t take anyone’s word on what I hear or read (at least without throwing it in a GIANT gray basket), I wanted to know if this was true. I didn’t so much care about what was really going on at such secretive places, just the airline itself was intriguing and the fact it was connected with EG&G. My husband and I both worked for a division of EG&G when we met. Instead of taking what I hear as truth, I investigate.
I started researching and found out about tracking planes. Since I live near an airport and we are always wondering about what planes go over us or such, it sounded fun. I learned how to use Flightradar24, an app and a web-based program. I had it set up to notify me of emergencies. I got to where my background in prayer became part of using the tracking programs. When I got an alert, I would see what was going on and pray for safety etc. I have “observed” a couple of planes go into the ocean or otherwise crash during emergencies, confirmed. That leaves you with the reality that while aviation is a lot safer than decades ago, crashes still happen for many reasons. It helps me to value pilots and controller tower personnel more, to have more respect for them. I use many more flight-tracking apps than that and other flight apps that have to do with historical tracking information.
We learn by the tracking and by sound what planes are going over us. We have learned to ID the cargo planes, the larger airline planes, AF1/2 planes (go over very low), and military planes and helicopters. When planes go over and you can see them, that doesn’t mean they will show up on tracking. Not all do. Some corporate jets don’t – they shield info, some small planes aren’t required to in many cases, some military and government planes aren’t on tracking. Those planes may pop in and out on tracking which is fascinating to watch.
Another thing you can do with tracking and you see a plane, you can check the altitude etc. and you do that over and over and you begin to learn to more accurately estimate altitude of planes. That is helpful with MUFON sighting reports and more.
There are safety issues, particularly living by an airport, and that is a good reason to me for tracking the planes. We have had some private pilots that do dangerous maneuvers over our home and I’m able to take screenshots of their activity, note the N-number and look it up, and file a complaint to FAA if needed. There is a maneuver that they go into a loop and cut engine and restart it for training. Fine, do it somewhere else besides over schools and subdivisions, there is no reason for that in an occupied area. I also noted odd activity by one small plane that was on tracking and I looked it up and saw who owned it, the individual’s name seemed familiar. I looked it up and it was a flight mechanic from another state that had been in trouble for not doing the maintenance that he said he did and was fined etc. How in the hell does someone like that get a license to fly let alone own a plane?
We do have non-traditional craft come into our airspace that cannot be tracked, yes UFOs. Seen and experienced by many people here and in area. You cannot see that on tracking, but you can rule out planes with transponders. That is another reason I track. Harassment by Homeland Security or other agencies over an area is another reason why people track.
I started out just watching for JANET flights – even though I lived on the east coast of the US, it was easy enough to do with patience. I started to note several patterns in activity. For instance, at the time I monitored just those flights, I saw that Thursdays and particularly Thursday nights seemed to be the most active periods. I also saw other countries’ military or government planes go there often on those days, like UK government or military planes. You can’t see UFOs on tracking – at least not on civilian level away from radars etc. – so no, you can’t see that. At one time I had rough notes on all the JANET call signs and where they went. Occasionally some would go to Boeing in Washington state, maybe for repairs or upgrades. I would watch some C-17s over that area and they would go slow, like watching paint dry slow. I learned likely parachuting practices or some other thing, not everything over that area is about aliens (grin). I really don’t like the term “alien” because I believe multiple things involved.
That got boring, so I went on to observe other things, like the Google LOON balloons which were all over South America, Caribbean and some in the US. That was fun and I learned a lot about network connectivity etc. as far as to the use of the balloons and why being used. That is one thing I have found extremely valuable to me as a researcher and an individual is it is live-time history in the making and I can learn of things that no one will watching the news or reading history books. These are the types of things the news media isn’t interested in learning, let alone sharing instead of some of the junk they love. I’ve seen weather balloons on tracking, particularly before launches at Wallops Island, Virginia.
I do investigative research on specific individuals’ or planes’ activity and I can put “trackers” on such planes to know when and where they depart or arrive at airports. I have individuals like reporters who ask about such information. I can also historically track plane activity over a specific location for a limited period of time. Reporters often ask me for such information. Being an investigator with MUFON that is very important, to know how to do that because I can rule out planes going over a location or confirm going over a location. I’m always aware it doesn’t rule out everything because not everything will be tracked, but if someone sees a Southwest plane also, and I can identify it on historical tracking and the time and location over the area, then that helps to confirm time, confirm witness’ honesty, and if an important enough case, I can FOIA FAA etc. for any recordings pertaining to that in case a pilot noted the object.
I take note of activity by all kinds of planes, it makes me more informed, helps me to understand how things work, and helps me to communicate with others in aviation. My next step is becoming 107 licensed for more education. I have purchased the course, need time to do it.
It is a fun hobby for people who just want to look at smartphone apps. I think it would be worthwhile for young people to learn, maybe it would help them get interested in becoming pilots or air traffic control personnel – we need more of both.