Other Mac apps work well on the Mac but are even better suited for your iPhone. FlightRadar24 is one such app. The Mac version is inexpensive and works acceptably well, but the original app started on iOS, and that’s probably the platform you’ll want to use while tracking your flight, if anything because you don’t carry your Mac as much as you carry an iPhone, amirite?
For flight tracking, Mac or iPhone, FlightRadar24 is one of the best. For the Mac, your screen becomes an air traffic radar screen which lets you see most airplane traffic around the world in near real time. You get a view of the landscape around the flight, including geographic locations and a decent representation of the visual from the cockpit in near 3D.
The planes on the screen move in almost realtime, but the value is all the details about the plane; route, speed, altitude, carrier, name, and much more. Because there are many thousands of airplanes in the sky at any one moment you may need to search for a specific flight, but the search process can be filtered by airline, speed, altitude, location and much more.
Most of my travel and that of family, friends, and co-workers is in the continental U.S., and coverage here is great thanks to radar data provided by the F.A.A. Flight data coverage in other areas depends upon the area.
For example, Japan is covered completely, but Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Maldives, Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Pakistan, Bangladesh have limited flight data coverage, yet Australia and New Zealand are nearly 100-percent. Most of Europe is covered, but only parts of Africa.
Flightradar24 only can track aircraft equipped with an ADS-B transponder. The exception is in the US and Canada where we get radar data from the FAA and can track almost all planes, but with a five-minute delay. Visit FlightRadar24 for more information about ADS-B and Flightradar24’s coverage.
FlightRadar24 falls within my personal threshold for Mac App Store throwaway money, but the app I use the most is the iOS version on my iPhone. Still, screen real estate has value and watching a plane takeoff or approach an airport for a landing in near real time– with a constructed view from the cockpit, of course– is exciting.
If I had not wanted to become a Mac-using professional graphic designer then I would have wanted to be a pilot. FlightRadar24 is the next best thing except for flight simulators, and if free is your game FlightGear is the name.