How to find a plane without a flight plan

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  • How to find a plane without a flight plan

    I'm stumped on this one. I need my protag to find a private plane. He caught the ID on the tail as it was taking off from a private airport runway, but this plane would not have filed a flight plan and he needs to find out where it's headed ASAP.

    I was looking at plane spotters, but still haven't figure out how to use them in this capacity. Any ideas?
    Chicks Who Script podcast

  • #2
    Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

    I'm in no way knowledgeable in this area, but why would this plane not have to file a flight plan?

    Don't all flights have to be reported, commercial or private? It's a safety issue, right?

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    • #3
      Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

      Originally posted by ATB View Post
      I'm in no way knowledgeable in this area, but why would this plane not have to file a flight plan?

      Don't all flights have to be reported, commercial or private? It's a safety issue, right?
      Covert ops. Spies. Smugglers. Cover-up. Lots of possibilities, at least in a movie.
      Patrick Sweeney

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      • #4
        Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

        If it's a private plane taking off from a mom and pop type private airport, it can get away with no flight plan. Drug runners do it, so I have learned in my researching. But this is not about a drug runner.

        It is, however, a very shady plane.
        Chicks Who Script podcast

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        • #5
          Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

          So if it's a plane without a registered flight plan, wouldn't it alert authorities when it popped up on radars for, say, flight control operators?

          If so, that would be one way of finding it. He knows where it took off from and, possibly, a general idea of its direction.

          Maybe he has a friend who's a flight control operator? He could call in a favor and have him search for any unidentified planes on his radar.

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          • #6
            Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

            I don't know about the technical details of tracking planes, so I'll try some other ideas: Search the hangar for clues - a dropped card or brochure, a notepad with indentations from the last note written on it, etc. Find out how much fuel the plane took on board and extrapolate destinations. Interview (or interrogate, depending) someone who might have overheard the flight crew talking.
            Patrick Sweeney

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            • #7
              Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

              Originally posted by ATB View Post
              I'm in no way knowledgeable in this area, but why would this plane not have to file a flight plan?

              Don't all flights have to be reported, commercial or private? It's a safety issue, right?
              Commercial I think is required always. Private is only required during IFR (instrument flight rules).
              "Ray, next time someone asks you if you're a god, you say YES!- - Ghostbusters

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              • #8
                Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

                Does your protag know anything about who is on board? Can s/he deduce their destination from what s/he knows about them? Or maybe s/he overheard something said right before take off that would tip off your protag? Maybe you're stumped because you haven't looked beyond the ID/flight plan option.

                And s/he can always get all James Bond and jump onto the wing of the plane.

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                • #9
                  Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

                  Originally posted by GI_Jeep View Post
                  Commercial I think is required always. Private is only required during IFR (instrument flight rules).
                  But with so many flights in progress at any given time, don't they need to be, for lack of a better word... choreographed?

                  Each pilot needs to know what altitude he should be at and what path to take so that no two flight paths tragically meet.

                  So how do they take into account the unregistered private flights? Isn't there some protocol to make sure private flight paths and commercial flight paths don't intersect?

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                  • #10
                    Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

                    Originally posted by emily blake View Post
                    I'm stumped on this one. I need my protag to find a private plane. He caught the ID on the tail as it was taking off from a private airport runway, but this plane would not have filed a flight plan and he needs to find out where it's headed ASAP.

                    I was looking at plane spotters, but still haven't figure out how to use them in this capacity. Any ideas?
                    You can look up the owners info by tail number. Maybe work that somehow?
                    "Ray, next time someone asks you if you're a god, you say YES!- - Ghostbusters

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

                      You could try posting your question at one of these forums:

                      airlinepilotforums.com

                      beechtalk.com

                      pilotsofamerica.com

                      x-pilot.com

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

                        Have you heard of FlightAware? See below.
                        D--


                        Tracking a private plane is not always possible. Not all private flights even have flight plans. However, there are some private flights that can be tracked using a website called FlightAware. In order to track a flight, you will need the tail number of the aircraft. It must be flying within the United States, and it must be on an IFR flight plan.

                        Read more: How to Track a Private Plane | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_4541420_trac...#ixzz1qRrr3i5Z

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                        • #13
                          Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

                          Thanks for the suggestions so far, guys. Nothing's the perfect answer, but I can toy around with the ideas. I'll keep thinking about these suggestions.

                          dworhach, I have heard of Flight Tracker, but this is a flight with no flight plan, so that would not work.

                          Basically the premise is, there's something on that plane our protagonist desperately needs to get back, something others are trying desperately to keep from him. All he knows is the number on the tail.

                          Thanks for the links, iggy. I'll check them out.
                          Chicks Who Script podcast

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                          • #14
                            Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

                            Seeing as this is hollywood and all...

                            Satellite tracking

                            Commandeer a really powerful telescope and watch it all the way

                            Get truckers to spot the plane along the way and call it in over the CB network

                            Follow it from the ground in a really fast car / off-road buggy / speed boat?

                            Chase it with another plane

                            Post a message on internet message board (preferably DDP) asking members to stand outside and report any sighting of the plane

                            Report it to Homeland Security as a potential suicide bomber

                            Work out how much fuel it has and draw a circle on a map to show the area it must be within and then just get lucky (hey, it works in other movies)

                            A leaking can of paint in the plane leaves a trail of easy-to-follow bright red blotches across the landscape

                            Just sit there and confidently proclaim "he'll be back" and sure enough, the plane returns

                            It was all a dream while the protag was asleep, the plane is actually still on the runway

                            Visit a fortune teller and simply ask where the plane is

                            Call the pilot via radio and ask him where he's going

                            A homing pigeon with a GPS strapped to it's back sneaks aboard just prior to take off.... ahh, now I'm just getting silly...

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                            • #15
                              Re: How to find a plane without a flight plan

                              Sneak a cell phone on the plane and track IT.

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