Useful Tips and Tricks
Here we want to share our tips & tricks with you, which can be quite helpful sometimes. With the following rogramms you can find out about the wind, the exact position of the sun and much more. And we share our special tips with you, which can make a spottertrip better and hopefully successfuller, too.
We recommend to read some tripreports to the airport/country which can be found on the internet, so you know what to take care of and miscellaneous things. There a plenty of aviation forums where you find reports.
And our last tip is to look on our website if we offer a spotting guide for the airport you’re planning a trip to or you are going to visit. If not so, we are really sorry and would kindly ask you to write a guide after your visit.
- Never forget to carry an ID-Card or Passport with you, so you can prove who you are. Especially for airports in dangerous/critical countries where spotting isn’t really welcomed, because otherwise your spotting stay might be shorter than planned or you’ll have problems with the local police – that’s what we wan’t to prevent. But you can even be checked at german airports so always carry your ID! That’s why we often watch out for experiences before visiting a new airport and rather go spotting in groups and not alone. Usually we left a security note within a guide if you can get in trouble.
Furthermore its useful to have a aircraft magazine/book with you to show the people what you are doing. Keep in mind that 99% can´t imagine what we are doing there.
- Don´t cut holes into fences! The victims are the locals spotters who use the spots regularly. They get problem with the security, not you.
- Always keep your environment clean and take the waist with you! Be respectful and don´t destroy mother nature.
- Usage of airband-scanners is not allowed to use in most countries. So its up to you if you accept the risk to pay a fine if you get checked by security. Otherwise at some airports its highly recommend to use a scanner if a runway change happens. Usually we mention this in our guide if one is necessary. Many
FLIGHT TRACKING TOOLS
Flightradar24 is the #1 tracking tool with the best coverarge and even the best app.
But sometimes you see little Jets on it and wonder that you can’t see a registration, just the typ – often Gulfstreams, Hawkers, Cessnas and similar. If so, we recommend to use Planefinder or ADS-B Exchange, because these programms can show you registrations for most of the Biz-Jets and latter even military that Flightradar24 can’t! But they don´t cover as much as FR24 do.
If you’re hunting a special (colored) aircraft and you don’t know where it was in the past days or it will be in the future, or you just want to see a route, which was flown by an airplane, you can use the Flightradar24 History. It works for most of the freighters, civil aircrafts and for some bizjets, too. Just enter the registration here and you’ll find a list of the past and sometimes also the following flights. If you want to see the route, which was flown by the plane, you can start a playback. This tool shows you the exact route and apart from that the altitude, speed, actual and average flighttime, the exact time (UTC) and many more information which are updated evry minute. You cannot just search for a plane, rather for a flightnumer, too. Then you can see a list of all the planes, which flew the route. Of course you can start playbacks here, too!
You should also not forget to check the NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) before you start to learn if a runway is inactive or going to be closed for maintenance for example.
FlightStats offers you the possibility to see regular operated flights (arrivals and departures) for almost every airport all over the world! The advantage is to see the arrivals and departures for the past 3 days, today and the following 3 days – very great tool! It’s an option to the FR24 tool which you have to pay for and is anyway just for the past and the following 24 hours. Apart from that, FlightStats offers you many other tools like an Flight Tracker, Delay Maps or similar things.
If you don’t know if a flight will be operated in future at the same days or even the same times you can use Flightmapper. This website is very useful for difficuilt and tricky situations like the change from Summerflightplan to Winterflightplan or the other way around, then you can look up, if the flight will be flown in the other flightplan, too.
Flightaware is a great website for operations in and out of the USA. You see all flights, even small props, bizzer and freighters ethat are not shown on FR24 or flightstats. Especially perfect if you visit a regional or municipal airport.
The most important thing during spotting is the position of the sun. Simple rule, sun has to be behind you. If you look into the sun, then you make something wrong. In our guides whe have a “time” row for each spot where you can find the approximate hours where spotting is perfect from this location. If you wanna know the exact time and elevation of the sun, then we recommend these two tools:
SunCalc.net, is very easy to handle, but of course not that exact and it shows just a few information.
Sunearthtools shows the exact sun position and the angle of the sun, but it’s quite complicated and complex. Click on the images below to enlarge and read the description.
You are at an airport and don’t know which runway is or will be in use? Then you can visit Windfinder and look it up. They offer a great tool, where you can see from which directions and how strong the wind is coming at the chossen point. From this data you should know which Usage is prefered, but sometimes (if a runway is closed for example) it might be different, so we recommend to inform you about possible constructions on/around the runway(s) before you visit the airport.
At windfinder you can use the “wind statictis” to learn which is the prefered monthly wind direction.