Tracking Flights in Google Earth

Flight tracker Flying in Google Earth screenshotAnother excellent example of real-time network links in Google Earth was introduced over two years ago by FBOweb. FBOWeb specializes in tracking flights as a business providing information to general aviation operators so they can know when private flights are arriving, but they also cater to aviation enthusiasts and even just the casual user who needs to track a flight. But, they really did something cool when they introduced the ability to track flights in Google Earth. To showcase this capability, they created some special network links to show the approximate positions of all the in-bound flights for several major US airports. The tracks show the position as a placemark and a track of the last few minutes of the flight. And, they also show the altitude, so the tracks are 3D!
The list of airports include: Boston (BOS ), Chicago (ORD ), Atlanta (ATL ), Los Angeles (LAX ), and New York (JFK ). I highly recommend you turn off one airport’s network link in the Places folder before you turn on the other (otherwise there is too much information). You can view the web site for these Google Earth files here. Also, make sure you tilt your view so you can see the 3D view of the plane tracks.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. looks nice, I will check it too

  2. Ernst M. Kofler says:

    I think the time is overdue for a google earth airliner game. The technical opportunities given by the application, combined with the vizualization techniques shown by barnabu and fboweb, as well as the interaction techniques shown by mars sucks or gewars, show the way how an implementation could look like.
    And I admit, I am working on such a thing 😉

  3. It’s nice, but ever since I started using it I keep getting a login screen all of a sudden. When I click cancel, it refreshes but it’s really uber annoying. Anybody else have this problem?

  4. Philipp Salzgeber says:

    yeah, the FBO network links are fascinating, some guys from the technical university in Zürich came up with something similar for Google maps:
    btw: thx for the blog, I am enjoying it on an almost daily basis!

  5. The tools are really pretty cool. Note that you can also track individual flights by their flight number. These tracks also show nearby planes. You can use real-time flight data from a site like to get flight numbers of planes in a specific area. With just a few flights being tracked, you can see nearly every plane in the vicinity. Very cool.

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