Airplane tracker

Web app, iOS, IoT

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Over New Year’s 2018, I had visited several aviation-related museums and attractions in Seattle, as I have a hobbyist interest in commercial flight. I also did a little digging and found all my plane registrations on flights dating back to 2013. It was fascinating seeing where those planes were now, and I wanted a cool way to visualize it, so I made a little tool overnight. It’s nowhere near complete, but it’s working. Basically, it finds any of the planes I’ve been on, currently flying, and shows their location on a live map, along with other details using the Google Maps API.

Gathering data

I ran into a few obstacles, as no single data source had everything I needed. I ended up writing a background Redis server that would periodically fetch information (some things every minute, others daily) from FAA’s aircraft registrations, FlightRadar24’s live data, OpenFlights’ airport data, and Airfleet’s airline information. I made a mini JSON API endpoint to render out this map, however I’m looking to move things to sockets later this afternoon. Of course, there was a lot of sanitizing and normalizing involved, but the data is working well together to tell a story, something I haven’t found much of, considering the many plane spotters out there.

I’m pretty satisfied with the progress I’ve made, but I’m looking to eventually tie in some photos, Service Difficulty Reports (SDR’s) and NTSB accident data. Currently this only supports planes registered in the US with an N-prefixed tail number, maybe I’ll soon expand that as well, after I create an interface of course. As for now I don’t plan on scaling this beyond myself, as I don’t have the resources to do so, but in the future this could make for a cool network for plane spotters and enthusiasts.