Tip: Use FlightRadar24 and FlightAware to See Where Your Plane Has Been

Sep 17, 2017

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Have you ever wondered where that plane you’re sitting on has just come from? Or where it’s going after it drops you off? Here’s how you can use free software to dig up a ton of information on your metal bird.

If you’ve ever had a serious delay while flying, you probably know that it’s not unusual for flight tracking apps to give you up-to-date information on the status of your flight — but not for the airline or the actual plane. FlightRadar24 is a simple tool that lets you log on and search for whatever airline and flight number you’re looking for. Every plane is assigned a unique tail number, much like the serial number on your phone, that can easily identify it, and all planes registered in the United States have tail numbers that begin with the letter “N.”

I decided to test it out. A quick search on FlightRadar24 pulled up the tail number of the American Airlines 767 that caught fire last fall: N345AN.

A quick search of flightradar24 pulls up the tail number of the American Airlines 767 that caught on fire the other week

You’ll get free results for flights in the past seven days. If you want to go back further, you’ll need to sign up for its free trial membership. Once you find the tail number, you can take it and search for it directly on FlightAware.com to get even more detailed history that goes back about two weeks. If you want more information at that point, you’ll need to sign up for its free trial.

If you choose a specific flight, FlightAware will even give you minute-by-minute reports on the plane’s altitude, heading, latitude and longitude.

Latitude, longitude, speed, direction, altitude... what more could you ask for?

Unfortunately, it can be a little tedious trying to get the complete picture of a plane’s past, as it requires you to sign up for a free trial from one of these platforms. But once you do, or if you’re interested in a flight that occurred within the last two weeks, you can find just about every detail about the flight that you’d ever want to know.

What are some of your favorite #AvGeek sites and apps? Sound off, below.

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