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Finding Aircraft Flying Over House  
User currently offlineRsmart From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2009, 3 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 4219 times:

Hi - Can you help me! My son (13 yrs old) is intersted in becoming an aviation enthusiast. He wants to start collecting the reg numbers of aircraft. He knows of someone who has an SBS Radar Box which enables them to identify the aircraft going over their house. All we have so far is a good pair of binoculars (20X80)! I know you can look up aircraft registrations to find out what aircraft they are, but is there another way of finding out the reg numbers of aicraft flying over your house if you can't see the number without buying a Radar Box that isn't going to cost me a fortune here in UK. For example. is there some computer software or internet site I can use to discover whats flyiong overhead. Perhaps at a later date I might need to get him a radar box once I know he is taking up the hobby seriously but at present can't afford this.

Thanks for your help with this - this is all knew to me so be gentle with me!!


4 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineOly720man From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 6941 posts, RR: 11
Reply 1, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks ago) and read 4206 times:

Depending on where you live there are a number of online groups that follow overflights, for example in the NW of the UK there's


where people will list the things going over, though usually it's the more interesting ones rather than the regulars. At the end of the day a variety of people upload their daily logs so you can check timings. It may be an idea to get an airband radio so you know what planes are about.

Alternatively there's openatc.org which shows planes over most of the UK displayed on google earth. The information is supplied by individuals with their own SBS boxes and coverage can be variable, depending on the weather, time of day and who's actually got their computers running. This site is based in Europe since relaying such info is illegal in the UK and similar UK based sites have had to finish their activities.

Typical screenshots are as follows

Big version: Width: 600 Height: 480 File size: 287kb

Clicking on an individual marker brings up information about the aircraft and the HEX ID refers to the actual aircraft. You can usually google the HEX number and it'll be logged somewhere against the registration.

Big version: Width: 348 Height: 262 File size: 42kb

For example, 4B18AE refers to HB-JJA, a BBJ operating for KLM.

In the site www.libhomeradar.org you can enter the HEX ID (top right corner of the main screen) and there's a smart search that'll find the aircraft if it's listed.....


Note that the openatc is delayed by around 10 minutes so the aircraft on the computer will be closer to you than shown.

wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
User currently offlineRsmart From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2009, 3 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks ago) and read 4201 times:

Thanks OLY720man for the help. At least this gives me something to go on. Somebody mentioned about Acarsd but not sure how that works on what equipment I need. I live in South London where there is quite a lot of aircraft activity.

User currently offlineOly720man From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 6941 posts, RR: 11
Reply 3, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 4164 times:

ACARSD is a website where you can track aircraft by their messages.


ACARS itself is an aircraft reporting system that you can pick up on airband scanners and, with a suitable decoder, show the aircraft on your computer. For reading ACARS you need a decent scanner. From experience a handheld scanner isn't that good and the others are quite expensive.

Other software that people use is planeplotter in conjunction with a scanner


For your purposes I'd go with openatc (or any online groups) to track the planes and use acarsd or libhomeradar (both provide much the same information) to get the registrations and get familiar with which airband frequencies to use and which frequencies are used for which routes.

wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
User currently offlineRsmart From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2009, 3 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 4118 times:

Thanks for your help. I'll take your advice and stick with openatc and libhomeradar and hopefully he will be able to tie up the aircraft he sees with that on these systems.

Thanks again for your time andhelp.


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