This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Aviation geeks are a special breed. They’re the kind of people who will go out of their way to see a particular plane up close or even take a flight just for the aircraft rather than to reach a specific destination. Whether or not you’re able to take your #AvGeek hobby on the road, these mobile apps let you get close to the action.
FlightRadar24 is an excellent app for the nerdiest of the bunch, and was the most recommended download when I asked fellow #AvGeeks about their favorites via Twitter. Within FlightRadar24, you can look at the flights arriving and departing from almost any airport in near-real time. Once you have an overview of the airport, each plane displays the airline to which it belongs, as well as its registration number, altitude, speed, heading and coordinates. FlightRadar24 can even send you push notifications letting you know when a plane is in an emergency situation, known as a Squawk 7700. I’ve followed a few flights in this situation, and it’s honestly a pretty helpless feeling, hoping they make it to the airport. I’m not saying that’s a fun thing, but it’s a remarkable capability for a smartphone app.
2. Live ATC
Live ATC lets you listen to the communication channels between air traffic control (ATC) and planes, which can be especially exciting and useful when you’re at an airport plane spotting, or if you’re remotely located and you hear about an emergency situation occurring. You can just tune in to that airport and listen, but note that sometimes the communication between planes and ATC can get pretty colorful. The amount of communication going on is mind-boggling, especially when you consider that the big airports have several channels — JFK has 24 channels of its own! The app also lets you see a diagram of the airport’s runway layout and check the weather for the region.
TripIt is an organizational app that’s best for those who travel often and hold multiple reservations, or anyone who might be taking a trip with multiple segments. For example, I have seven flights booked for the upcoming Paris Air Show; four going over, and three returning. (I know, I’m a glutton for punishment, but anyway…) In addition to organizing your flights, TripIt lets you add in your hotel reservations, ground transportation as well as local activities and dining plans. This all happens on a convenient timeline.
SkyGuru is the most interactive app you can use throughout your flight— I wrote about it after meeting the creator at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg back in April. The app proclaims that it can predict turbulence based on weather forecasts along the route of your flight. It also uses your phone’s gyroscope and accelerometer to detect each stage of flight and explain each noise and bump you’re feeling, so if you or anyone you know is a nervous flyer, this is a must-download.
Windy predicts the duration and intensity of the wind using real-time information collected at local weather stations. While it was technically developed for surfers, several pilots told me they use it as well. Within the app, you can ask locals if it’s a good time to go to the spot you’re thinking about and click on your nearest weather station, to get a 10-day forecast with the expected wind speed and direction, temperature and even the time of day that it may rain.
6. WingX Pro7
The WingX Pro7 app is dedicated to pilots, providing route planning, navigational charts, weather maps and FAA flight restrictions. Several features are beyond my understanding, to be honest, because I’m not a pilot, but it seems to be a one-stop shop for the tools pilots would need to plan their flights. It has an annual subscription of $74.99, but you can use it free for 30 days.
7. Infinite Flight
Just for fun, I’m including what, in my opinion, is the best flight simulator out there; because what airplane geek doesn’t enjoy pretending to fly planes? Within the Infinite Flight app, you can choose from several photo-realistic commercial or military aircraft and practice your take-offs, routings, approaches and landings. It can be very challenging! Note that while there are in-app purchases available for additional planes, many are free.
Do you have any favorites not listed here? Share them with us in the comments, below.
Featured image courtesy of Infinite Flight.
LIMITED TIME OFFER. Aside from the 100,000 points welcome bonus (available until 8/8/18), Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points.
- Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 & an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 8/8/18.†
- Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
- Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
- You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
- You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2017
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees