red tulips | copyright Jill J. Jensen

 

 

FlightAware

live flight tracking and aviation information

 

Okay, aviation buffs — and business-oriented road warriors who travel by air. The FlightAware website is a little piece of information heaven.

Find out what you need to know to circumvent bad weather, navigate missed connections, and handle airport delays. Or just browse a bit and see the location of all the planes in the air over the United States — often numbering in the thousands — at any given moment. Related weather information is just a click away.

Anyone can track any private or commercial flight by number, plane tail number, airline/flight number, or three-letter airport code. Pilots can get up-to-date terminal (landing) procedures, information on airport and repair (FBO: fixed base operator) facilities, weather maps and METAR warnings, as well as instrument flight paths (IFR) for inclement weather. Other links take you to discussion boards, assorted flight resources (including help with planning instrument-based routes), and "squawks," a collection of aviation-related news, stories, photographs, and videos, included only by voting among the registered FlightAware community.

As an interested traveler or aviation geek, you can browse for free — by airport, operator (airline or plane owner, such as FedEx, JetBlue, NetJets, Continental, etc.), or aircraft type (Cessna, Boeing, Embraer, Beechcraft, etc.).

Registered members (still a free service) can even get flight alerts sent to an e-mail or instant-messaging account, which could give you the edge you need to snag the lone empty seat on the connecting flight you thought you'd missed. Paid site subscriptions provide detailed flight/airport reports and other services to businesses, travel agencies, and the like.

A related, but unaffiliated site, is FlightStats, where you can find out the on-time performance of an airline or flight route, and check arrivals, departures, and flight status by number or route. Access tools for real-time flight tracking and cellphone or e-mail alerts, airport delays, tips, and ratings.

Between FlightAware and FlightStats, you should be well armed for dealing with air travel in these days of packed planes, scaled-back flight routes, and do-it-yourself service.

 

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