55 votes
Accepted

Why do Air Force planes regularly fly in circles?

Generally speaking, Air Force (and military in general), aircraft will "orbit" (fly in circles around a given point) when the mission calls for them to be "on station" (nearby and ...
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50 votes
Accepted

Why don't most planes fly in a straight path?

Short answer The routes on the screenshots are actually mostly straight. It's true aircraft routes are not always the shortest paths, because other considerations count too, e.g. weather and the ...
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  • 67.7k
34 votes
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What are these vehicles with no callsign used for?

They have Mode-S transponders / ADS-B transmitters specifically for vehicles such a the ERA SQUID, Thales MOSQUITO or Saab Sensis VeeLoPDF. Typically vehicles that operate on taxiways and runways ...
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  • 74.8k
27 votes

Why do Air Force planes regularly fly in circles?

That is a tanker. Flying gas station. It will orbit for several hours, specified time and track. Various other aircraft (fighters, AWACS, JSTARS) will come up and refuel as needed. While you see the ...
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  • 4,212
23 votes
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Why did this aircraft fly in this pattern over Southern Italy?

That flight pattern is almost certainly aerial surveying / mapping work and it's quite common all over the world. Companies like Google, Bing, etc pay for low to medium altitude photography and ...
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20 votes

Does the FlightRadar24 pose a risk to aviation security?

The data FlightRadar uses is provided by volunteers using commercially available ADS-B receivers. All it does is save the terrorist a couple of bucks buying an ADS-B receiver.
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19 votes
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Why is this plane flying a circular track?

A recent article in Aviation Week showed a modified Bombardier Global 6000 with a "canoe" type fairing underneath the fuselage which typically houses a variety of radar or electronic intelligence (...
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  • 344
18 votes

Why don't most planes fly in a straight path?

That is a straight path. It is the map projection being used that is curved. This is because Earth is a round planet, not a flat surface, and creating accurate maps have always been a problem. Take a ...
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  • 32.2k
13 votes
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How can a helicopter show up at 29000ft, 547kts at Flightradar24?

@mins answer contains good information, however the conclusion that the mistake is in the Flightradar 24 database is not correct. It is not Flightradar 24 that has a database error: 30040D IS I-...
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  • 74.8k
13 votes

Why is this plane flying a circular track?

My theory here is that this was a flight check of the NDB at Jalalabad, but I could very well be wrong. Land-based navigation aids (such as VORs, DMEs, ILSes, and NDBs) can fail, and not always in a &...
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13 votes
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Does the FlightRadar24 pose a risk to aviation security?

The short answer is yes it does. In reality, the amount of benefit Flight Radar gives to those that would exploit it for evil is negligible compared to the amount of good the technology provides. The ...
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  • 16.2k
12 votes
Accepted

Why do helicopter flights not appear in online flight trackers?

FlightRadar and similar websites use several sources for aircraft detection, most commonly they use ADS-B. Not all General Aviation aircraft, to which helicopters would count normally, are equipped ...
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  • 15.5k
12 votes
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Is this a very sloppy holding pattern or something else?

It does indeed look like they are not correcting for wind. The current wind over Belarus at 10km altitude looks like this: (screenshot from windy.com) That is consistent with the direction in which ...
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  • 45k
11 votes
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Why don't aircraft fly over Tibet?

While Him's answer is correct, part of the reason that there aren't many airways over central China is just that there's rarely a reason to fly there. Where possible, aircraft prefer to take paths ...
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  • 18.9k
11 votes
Accepted

Is this route of a airforce jet on flightradar faked?

No, that has not been faked. Flightradar is updated with a low frequency (from that screenshot I'd estimate once per 10 seconds, maybe more). This is done to reduce the computational demands on both ...
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  • 10.1k
11 votes

Why doesn't flightradar show many flights going over China?

From the Flighradar How it works page: Flightradar24 relies on volunteers around the world for the majority of our coverage Note it implies: There are people willing to contribute These people ...
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  • 268
10 votes

How can a helicopter show up at 29000ft, 547kts at Flightradar24?

Based on this discussion at FR24, mode S transponder addresses 0x30047D and 0x30040D were not associated with the correct airframes (as @Ralph early suggested). 30040D IS I-PTFT it is NOT I-MOFI ...
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  • 67.7k
10 votes

Why don't aircraft fly over Tibet?

Because there is only 1 airway (B345) in Tibet. Source: Chinese AIP - 15 Jan 2019 China (PRC) creates 2 sets of Aeronautical Charts, AIP and NAIP. AIP is aeronautical charts only listing airways for ...
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  • 5,268
10 votes

My N number showed up on another plane's flight on FlightRadar24. How does that happen?

FR24 may not actually receive any N-number from the aircraft. It's not unlikely that it only receives the Mode-S transponder code and cross-references that with a database to your N-number. So the ...
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  • 12k
9 votes

Why is this Jordan–Afghanistan flight avoiding airspaces in the Middle East despite being used by other flights?

State aircraft - especially Military - do not have the ICAO freedoms of the air. They must apply for diplomatic clearance to transit the airspace of a foreign country. Often this takes days or ...
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  • 1,093
8 votes

What are these vehicles with no callsign used for?

On this question it is mentioned that ground support vehicles are equipped with ground transponders that work with the airport ground radar. I doubt they have ADS-B. They are most likely getting a ...
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  • 27.5k
7 votes

Why doesn't flightradar show many flights going over China?

Your observation is somewhat correct. Plenty of flights land at hundreds of Chinese airports every day. The main reason why it always seems so empty on FR24 (technological issues aside addressed by ...
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  • 13.2k
7 votes

My N number showed up on another plane's flight on FlightRadar24. How does that happen?

Flight tracking sites like FR24 use both ADSB data and official radar tracks. The first possibility is that someone misconfigured their ADSB to use your hex code/tail number. This seems unlikely since ...
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  • 26.4k
7 votes

Why don't most planes fly in a straight path?

As you know, Earth is not flat, but is rather close to a sphere. So "the shortest path between two points is a straight line" does not actually work. The straight line between those two ...
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  • 1,631
6 votes

Why is this Jordan–Afghanistan flight avoiding airspaces in the Middle East despite being used by other flights?

Thanks to @Arkhem for suggesting a government flight. Upvote him/her post if you wish, it contains the exact reason for not flying over certain areas, I'm just adding a complement to this answer. It'...
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  • 67.7k
6 votes

Do private jets ever fly at FL510? If so, at what occasion?

Generally when you run right at service ceiling you are near the edge of the operating envelope with little energy margin if things go off the rails, so you are in a relatively dangerous place (also, ...
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  • 105k
6 votes

Why do Air Force planes regularly fly in circles?

Taking off and climbing to altitude takes time. Having planes already in the air facilitates defense from a hypothetical attack and may deter that attack altogether when the attacker anticipates a ...
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5 votes
Accepted

What factors besides tail/headwinds cause the time taken to fly some routes to be different from the time it takes to return?

Sometimes, prevailing winds will account for the difference -- flights going west to east in the US will generally be scheduled for less time than flights going the opposite direction. The other ...
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  • 41.9k
5 votes

Does the FlightRadar24 pose a risk to aviation security?

Plane movements are, for the most part, planned well in advance. Not only that, an airline actually has to publicize those times in order for customers to be able to book tickets. Want to find what ...
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  • 2,274
4 votes

Why did this aircraft fly in this pattern over Southern Italy?

There is another possible but far less likely answer. If an aircraft is equipped to detect radiological signatures, the baseline data collection patterns look like this. So what does that mean? We ...
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  • 499

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