This morning I woke up to the lovely sound of aircraft traffic over the house. Since it’s Monday, and not getting out of bed a second before I need to is the best answer, I decided to open up one of my favorite apps to learn everything about the noise above rather than crack a window. If you love planes and aviation as much as vacation, there are some great apps I simply can’t live without…

a man wearing glasses and a striped shirt


This app is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a live radar of air traffic around the world giving you everything from altitude, heading, tail number, departure point and estimated arrival. Similar to google maps, you can press a button showing your current location which allows for neat viewing of all the air traffic in your area (without cracking the window). Not only is it fun to see what’s flying above you, it’s fun to track flights when you have friends flying. Just last week I was able to see that though reporting on time on the airline website, a friends flight in question was actually running about 30 minutes late allowing me more nap time before heading to the airport.

a screenshot of a map with airplanes flying


Here’s another app which if you own a computer, hopefully you can deduce. Most countries allow for open listening access to air traffic control channels and this mobile app is your gateway. I just love hearing whats going on whether I am at home, on the tarmac or in the airport. I was once on a flight which seemed to be slow departing so I popped on the live ATC app. As I listened the stewardess mention that there would be just a short delay before departure. Meanwhile, on the ATC app I heard the pilot radio for a new part requiring at least an hour for departure. i mentioned this to a neighboring passenger and in no time we were allowed to de board rather than wait for what ended up being two hours.  Stuck in a taxi line? Find out which number you are. Just want to hear the amazing sound of a British pilot declaring approach? All good.

a group of men in control room


Virtually every commercial flight and all it’s juicy details are logged on FlightAware. Occasionally I feel like we propelled towards the clouds at a particularly fast rate or descended like a bat out of hell. FlightAware allows you to see rates of climb and descent as well as a visual map of your approach path. The best part? The archives go back years! When you’ve had a majestic approach over a city it’s cool to see exactly how you came in, which can also help you plan your seats for future flights. Use FlightAware to understand everything about your next or last flight.

a large airplane on a runway


This may be going too far for many. There is an incredibly realistic mobile flight simulator (wonderful on tablet) called InfiniteFlight which offers as life like of a flying experience as possible. It’s got it all from truly recorded jet engine sounds, ground warnings and even real life “virtual” air traffic control. I practice landings and can be found as “Captain Gilbert” whenever I have some down time. There are solo flying functions allowing even the greatest novice to peddle around and advanced servers for multi person real time flight in controlled airspaces. Something for all…(nerds).

a cockpit of a plane

This isn’t points and miles and it’s not going to save you a fortune but it adds to the majesty of flying. Seeing a plane fly over creates a sense of wanderlust and excitement and I love being able to instantly find out the who, what, when where and how. I think flying up through the clouds is one of the purest thrills to be found. All these apps will help make sure your head stays in the clouds and not in your work.

As Always, Get in Touch:

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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