Have you ever wondered how many planes are in the air at any given time? You probably figured the answer is "a lot," but never really knew the actual number.
Well, there are indeed a lot of planes in the sky at any given time. Chances are if you were to look up (assuming you are outside -- if not, this won't work) and scan the sky you would see at least one plane, if not more.
Of course, none of that will actually tell you just how crowded the sky really is, nor will you have an idea of where the plane is going and how fast it is getting there. Lucky for us, there is a website that tells us all that and more.
It's free, too!
If you happen to land at FlightRadar24.com, either through your web browser or via an iOS or Android app, you will get real-time information on thousands of aircraft that are in the sky at the time.
So. Many. Planes.
One of the best parts about FlightRadar24, which began as a hobby project by a couple of Swedish aviation geeks in 2006, is that along with simply showing you where the planes are, it will provide pretty much everything you need to know about each flight. For instance, clicking or tapping on a single plane will open up a new screen, one with details on where it is going, its expected arrival and other stats like speed and altitude.
As you can see, there are a couple of different tabs, too. You can get a plane's-eye view in 3-D, though that feature is still in beta and may not work properly all the time.
Now, the free version of FlightRadar24 comes with ads, though they are not terribly intrusive and don't greatly impact the enjoyment of the site. You can remove them, and add other features like more aircraft details, aeronautical charts, significant weather layer and airport view for a cost.
There are three different paid packages with each providing more features, and they range from $9.99 per year to $499.99 per year. All provide the opportunity for a 7-day free trial.
Sounds great, what do I have to do?
You can view plenty of information by just opening the site, but creating an account (even the free one) will allow you to enjoy live flight tracking and a search feature. Whichever package you choose, free or one of the paid ones, you will have access to one of the most popular and written about flight trackers there is.
To date, it has more than 1.5 million users per day, has been downloaded more than 30 million times as an app and is one of the top apps in hundreds of countries. It is also used by many in the aviation industry, including Airbus, Boeing and Embraer.