FlightAware was started by a couple of private airplane owners that wanted to track each other’s flights.
They petitioned the FAA for access to essentially real-time data that would show the progress of airplanes on instrument flight plans.
Three years ago, this personal project launched as a company that provides an array of aviation data to pilots, airport managers, charter companies, corporations operating jets and airline passengers.
Last June, FlightAware signed up its 150,000 registered member and served more than 1,250,000 unique users. Today, the company archives 50,000,000 flights.
Also, the site shows that more than 350 airplanes departed Augusta, GA’s Bush Airport last Sunday at the close of the Masters including numerous corporate jets.
I use the site regularly to check airline arrivals because this is absolutely current information from air traffic control – unlike the often bogus airline reports.
The most compelling thing to me is the real-time view of air traffic. The image below is from earlier today. It
shows the domestic traffic, plus traffic streaming off-shore to Europe,
Asia and South America/Caribbean.
This is a snapshot of our global connectedness as of 8:35 CDT today. (click for full image).