Real-time Air Traffic Monitoring

Saturday, September 17th, 2005
I'm a big fan of visual mapping tools. I constantly use my white boards, my tablet. and yes Michael, even paper, to map out and visualize my thoughts and ideas. As a visual person, I lean towards tools and technologies that allow me to "see" what's going on.

I understand that folks who drive in Los Angeles traffic like to look up the CalTrans real-time traffic information to "see" what freeway conditions are like. The freeway is 18 miles away and the nearest traffic signal is over 50 miles away so, I usually don't need that kind of information. From my vantage point high in the mountains, however, I see another kind of traffic information. Day and night, I see number of planes in flight corridors overhead at extremely high elevations. Although cannot usually hear them, I've often wondered where they were going. I don't have to wonder any more...


I've just found three web sites that allow me to watch air-traffic control flight data from a number of Southern California airports:

   Los Angeles International Airport
   Bob Hope (Burbank) Airport
   Van Nuys Airport

This is an excellent use of JAVA and web technologies to display air traffic information in near real-time. (For security reasons, the flight data is delayed 10-minutes.)  Air traffic controllers like to "see" what's going on in the skies overhead; now, I can too.

These sites offer an impressive visual display of flight data. While it's not quite Google Earth, it's impressive nonetheless. Try clicking on a plane to see the flight number and airline. You can also zoom in from 5 miles to 80 miles away. Apparently, there are plug-ins for Microsoft Flight Simulator that will bring in this data for even more realistic navigational adventures.


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