FlightRadar24 & the Final Approach into Melbourne

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

I’m a sucker for FlightRadar24, that app that lets you track aircraft all over the world or identify whatever might be flying above you right now.

Well not quite all over the world, I’ve noted before that flights between the Middle East and Australia tend to disappear over the Indian Ocean for a spell before reappearing as they approach the coast of Western Australia. Ditto for flights between the US West Coast and Australia, there’s a black hole in the Pacific, west of Hawaii, which they disappear into for a while.

I’m aware of this because I’ve been watching QF 94 and UA 98 this past week. A month ago I flew on United Airlines flight UA 98, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, from Los Angeles (LAX) to Melbourne (MEL). Arriving in Melbourne we made this ‘all around the city’ approach, passing pretty much directly over my house (unfortunately it was dawn, a little dark to see it amongst the trees) …

IMG_6870 - Albert Park Lake & the bayside - 540▲ Then over Albert Park Lake and the bayside, the Australian Grand Prix circuit runs around the lake. If I’d been on the other side of the aircraft I’d have had a great view of the downtown skyscrapers.

IMG_6873 - Port Melbourne pier - 540▲ And over Port Melbourne, I could see the Spirit of Tasmania, the overnight ferry service between Devonport in Tasmania and Melbourne, docked by the pier. Four years ago I watched the Queen Mary 2 tie up at Port Melbourne.

There are two daily flights between Los Angeles and Melbourne, the other one is Qantas flight QF 94 operated with an Airbus A380. If they’re on time (they’re usually not) they depart LA just 10 minutes apart and both of them often come right over my house around 7am in the morning, as if the air traffic controllers are trying to give passengers a great view of the city.

IMG_7098 - UA 98, 787 from LAX to MEL - 540▲ On 13 May I watched UA 98 pass over, flying east to west in front of my house.

IMG_7100 - QF 94, A380 from LAX to MEL - 540▲ And 26 minutes later (although it should have been 10 minutes ahead) QF 94 came by, travelling more north-south.

IMG_7118 - QF 94, A380 from LAX to MEL - 540▲This morning, Wednesday 18 May, QF 94 came over in the dawn light around 7:05 am. I was watching out for it because Maureen was on board, coming back from two weeks in the USA without me. She was sitting on the left side of the aircraft, but she didn’t see me wave.