posted on Jun, 3 2015 @ 11:11 PM
a reply to: nepatitan
I'm not a hard core plane spotter, but OK to PM me. I spot electronically using mode-s. There are databases of mode-s hex codes, so you can sort out
the interesting aircraft from the routine passenger planes. The mode-s code directly translates to the tail number.
Military aircraft have their own "secret" mode-s codes. The mode-s code doesn't translate into anything. Some entity assigns codes to tail numbers.
And that is where my plane spotting comes in. You drive to the base and "fence check". If you see a military plane land visually and on the mode-s
receiver, you assume that they are correlated. The receivers don't have that much range for aircraft that are nearly on the ground. You can also use
the altitude of the aircraft as a check on the mode-s code correlation since the altitude of the airport is known. I did a post on ATS on the MC-12 at
Beale a few years ago. I was verifying mode-s codes.
Needless to say, the Janet aircraft have mode-s. You can detect them and their altitude. At the moment they don't report their position and I suspect
never will even after the FAA requires this. Or they will turn off the position as soon as under military control.
If you saw the recent Associated Press article on FBI surveillance using Cessna aircraft, I have been detecting these flights for years. Surveillance
aircraft have a unique "signature" in electronic plane spotting. Your typical passenger or cargo aircraft is only tracked a short time, say 10 to 15
minutes unless you have a receiver at a high altitude. These planes take of and land at different airports.
Surveillance aircraft will be detected for an hour up to say four hours. They fly between 1500ft to maybe 4000ft, usually in the 2000ft range. They
need to be high enough not to be spotted visually, but low enough to sniff the target.
A few other types of aircraft have the same "signature" as surveillance aircraft. Flight schools are a prime example. Student pilots just get up in
the air and fly around for an hour then land at the airport from where they departed. They don't travel far enough to fall off the "radar ". But you
use the mode-s code to get the tail number and registration data. If it goes to a flight school, you can filter it out. If it goes to some phony front
company, you can assume it is the feds. In the internet age, your company looks very suspicious without a Web presence. The feds don't practice
"tradecraft" very well these days. They link the plane to some phony company, but it is really simple to tell the phony company is a fake because it
has no internet presence. Even the CIA did a terrible job hiding their "rendition" aircraft, such as allowing their planes to be logged going to Gitmo
on flightaware. Their front companies went to lawyer offices. The officers of the corporation often didn't exist. Top it off with the fake companies
had landing rights at military airbase as seen on the CALP (civilian landing permit) database that was on the internet at the time.
One of the worst fake company aircraft capers has to be Donna Blue. While they had a Web presence, their phone number had a 555 prefix. The website
was made using a template rather than professional done.