Our skies are abuzz 37



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I really enjoy flying. I’m one of those odd people who really wouldn’t mind living under an airport’s flight path. I also can’t help standing still to watch a plane fly overhead. I’ve never – fingers crossed – been involved in a serious flying incident.

I don’t count the interminable approach to Wellington Airport one year when the fog and clouds closed in, and the ‘preparing to land’ period stretched on and on. No further word from the pilot. No change in altitude. It was like an eerie episode of the Twilight Zone, plain unchanging grey outside the windows. No gremlin on the wing, thank goodness.

It made me nervous even though I felt in no real danger.

I’ve found a great app for my iPhone to do with flying. It’s called FlightRadar and there are free and paid versions. It enables me to identify any plane flying overhead, its origin and destination, and its flight path. I can sit in the comfort of my own home and satisfy my curiosity about any plane I can hear. Almost any. Occasionally near Brisbane airport there are flights with generic non-identifying info available (medical? military?), and I understand that during the city’s recent G20 gathering of world leaders, all their VIP planes were completely unidentifiable.

But, and this is a real plus, all that information is available in pretty close to real time which is great when someone you know is flying. I can actually track their flight, practically watch them depart and land if I want to.

Just recently I ‘followed’ a daughter on her way to Europe, via Melbourne and Abu Dhabi. When she was some distance short of Germany, I snapped a picture on my iPad of her position in the skies.

The skies above Europe resembled a beehive gone crazy.


This picture is a bit closer in. The red plane towards the bottom had my daughter on board.

close in

I’ve met only one other person who happily left a party to stand with me in the backyard to watch a low-flying plane overhead. We could almost touch it!


Are you a bit nutty about the amazingness of planes in the air? Do you marvel at the fact that up there above your head is a manmade machine with hundreds of people on board? Share with us below. 

Fran Goodey

Frances Goodey is the mother of four daughters and the grandmother of two primary school age boys. With six brothers and two sisters, she was raised in Sydney and later lived and worked in Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Brisbane. She is an avid reader and has had some small success with children's stories being published in New Zealand and Australia. Both she and her husband are retired, and her daughters live in Brisbane, Toowoomba, Sydney and Frankfurt.

  1. I agree ! Love planes and flying! Don’t mind flying long haul or short stops! Fascinated by the whole thing! Also have Flight Radar and enjoy following flights identifying types etc

  2. It was my desire in life to be a fighter jet pilot! I go down to our local RAAF base to watch the comings and goings, and I still get that little nervous excitement every time I fly, albeit mostly to Brissie!
    I actually lived my dream on a flight into Cape Town many years ago and sat in the cockpit for the landing!

    1 REPLY
    • My mother’s 1st fiancé was a fighter pilot WW2.
      Captured and killed.
      My father was WW2 pilot too then Qantas.
      Now my son is a pilot.
      I don’t like flying due to economy being squishy but can’t afford business.

  3. Wish I’d had that Ap while my husband was worldwide cabin crew. Will look for it today. Too much pain now to want to fly. If I could afford Business Class I would fly, but Economy would be torture.

  4. Good on you! I fly from Australia to England at least twice a year to see my mum and I spend most of the long flight watching the interactive map on the video screen. My mum lives near an airport and does what you do. EzyJet fly so low over the local supermarket car park you can read the phone number on the plane. I am going to buy your app right now.

  5. Wellington Airport…. landing there can be a unique experience. The last time I landed there, the pilot “dumped” the plane onto the runway from about a metre up, to get down onto the runway. That was a hard landing, but the plane and passengers survived intact.

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