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Many pics of tracking a Janet flight from LV to "Tonopah" (possibly Area 51)

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posted on May, 7 2013 @ 02:25 PM
I'm not sure if anyone's heard of FlightRadar24, but it's a nifty little app that lets you track planes that have a certain type of transmitter. As a plane nerd, I love this app but recently I've been using it to see if there's anything interesting going on at Area 51, and I found something.

I know Janet flights are 737s that fly from McCarran airport, so when I found this 737 flying north out of McCarron I knew I had to follow it
I've seen one of these before flying north out of Las Vegas and it disappeared so I had to follow it

This is the aircraft I was following, here you can see it's coming from McCarran + going to TNX, which is the airport code for Tonopah Test Range, it's type, altitude + callsign

In these 2 pictures, you can see where all the information on the flight should be, but isn't.

You can see here all the other planes avoiding the restricted airspace around Area 51, and the plane I was tracking flying straight through the middle

In these pictures you can see my incredible MS Paint skills showing the plane in relation to Area 51 + S4 and then...

Poof. Gone. This is the last spot I saw it, and I thought maybe that it disappearing was normal, until I found...

Another plane!!! This time coming from Tonopah back to McCarran, same WWW callsign, also a 737...

But if you have a look, you can see that the flight path went AROUND the restricted area and that you could see the entire flight path of the plane, it didn't just disappear

I hope you enjoyed my extremely long winded story, I just thought I'd contribute what little information I had. And apologies for my mahoosive pictures!!


posted on May, 7 2013 @ 02:34 PM
Excellent work! So would you assume the plane landed in the desert/mountains, did some top secret stuff, then turned around for the return flight?

posted on May, 7 2013 @ 02:35 PM

Originally posted by Florasaurus
I'm not sure if anyone's heard of FlightRadar24, but it's a nifty little app

On the computer, there's also the option of "playback", where you can go back through time and see what happened in any area you're looking at, or any flight number you care to name.

posted on May, 7 2013 @ 02:37 PM
It probably just turned off it's transponder once it got close to where it needed to land.

posted on May, 7 2013 @ 02:39 PM
reply to post by jjkenobi

I'm not sure about landing in the mountains, my thoughts were maybe that it had turned it's "public" transmitter off, turned a private one on and possibly gone to land at Area 51, but without the risk of anyone being able to see it landing there

reply to post by alfa1

I didn't know that! I haven't seen much of the internet site, I'll have a nosy now

posted on May, 7 2013 @ 02:41 PM
reply to post by MystikMushroom

That's exactly what I was thinking... It looks like it's heading for the general direction of Tonopah, but once it disappeared it could have gone anywhere

posted on May, 7 2013 @ 03:07 PM
I doubt anything super secret is being done at A-51 anymore. They'd love for everyone to think that there is though. I mean, it was supposed to be so secret, it wasn't supposed to even exist. Everyone knows about it now and where it is.

Misdirection meethinks, make people like yourself "watching" think it might have double backed and landed at A-51. I wonder if they have a huge underground hanger & landing strip dug out of a mountain?

posted on May, 7 2013 @ 05:37 PM
reply to post by MystikMushroom

If you read the posts on this forum you will see that Area 51 is still the best place for testing aircraft. There's not people watching the base 24/7 like there used to be. The base has been expanding and I doubt they would do that for no good reason.

posted on May, 7 2013 @ 05:58 PM
Excellent post. The spot the plane disappears is close to the alleged location of the fabled Cheshire Airstrip.


posted on May, 7 2013 @ 06:05 PM
Reading this it rings some bells of an old post about something similar. Need to go find it, sure it was about Janet flights not going where they said they were going. Must be a good year back.

Any mileage in looking at last location of the first flight and the time missing to arrive at a possible destination. looks like 20 odd minutes, would this be enough to land and take off again?

My first thought was the plane just simply flew out and back, non stop. Is this a possibility and if so, why?

Ok, it was a bit further back than a year! Not sure though this applies now I have had a re-read. I leave it to those that know a lot more than I do.

edit on 7-5-2013 by dowot because: Adding earlier post data.

posted on May, 7 2013 @ 07:54 PM

Originally posted by Florasaurus

There is no S4.
edit on 7-5-2013 by FosterVS because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 8 2013 @ 01:59 AM
link is probably the best of the internet flight trackers with live tracking feeds. But you need to look at the color of the aircraft to determine live from the delayed FAA feed. Orange means FAA feed. Yellow means a live tracking feed from ADS-B from a receiver in the area decoding 1090MHz. This can be done with a Kinetics box, or with a combination of a certain DVB-T dongle, the rtlsdr driver, dump1090 decoder software, and virtual radar server to plot it. About $15 and a lot of work. I don't know the current price of the Kinentics receivers.

Now orange FAA feed is not only delayed, but it is filtered based on either location or when the plane is assigned a squawk code for use over the range. Sometimes they screw up and don't filter properly, so the tracking of the plane goes a bit further into the range that usual. I have one track that landed at Groom.

The yellow planes are the ones to watch because they are live. Their tracking information is not from the FAA. If a plane was stupid enough to fly around the range with ADS-B enabled, you would see where it went, if in range of the receiver.

Most of the receivers are at flight schools. It wouldn't surprise me if the LAS receiver was at KVGT or KHND. receivers are a combination of receivers they own and get someone to host, and volunteers who owner their own receivers and provide fr24 a feed. You get a slight premium service as a feeder to the website, and I do mean slight. Basically the screen doesn't time out.

But here is the most important bit of information: none of the Janets use ADS-B. It wouldn't surprise me if they have the hardware, but they don't use it. They do use mode-s, which is a bit like ADS-B, but no position data.
This is true of the 737 Janets and the Beechcraft. So what you see on for the Janets is no better than say flightware or any number of other programs that get the FAA feed.

I have access to a mode-s receiver in Las Vegas and can see the mode-s data. This isn't exactly a secret. The website is

To see data on the website, you need to be a member. To be a member, you need to be a feeder. However I understand you can see some data without being a member.

The live-military-mode-s website has started to do a little ADS-B tracking. For instance, a C-17 with tail number 02-1102 and callsign THUG13 arrived at Nellis with the ADS-B turned on. You can see if followed a path over I-15 from the direction of Utah.

The terms of service prevent me from sharing the imagery. However, there is no reason that didn't catch that plane. And it did. You can enter 02-1102 or THUG13 in the search box. But the playback doesn't work very well, as in not at all.

Nellis runs an exercise called MAFEX twice a year. It hasn't been announced yet, but I would guess the day of the exercise is on the May 15th. Watch for NOTAMS. You may see the THUG flights arrive at the KENO airstrip to the east of the TTR. That would be an opportunity for real live tracking over the range. It is also possible the exercise was cancelled to save money (sequester).

There is an option in to turn off the FAA feed.

Regarding the cheap tracking, there are websites that cover using rtladsb or dump1090 plus virtual radar server. I haven't seen it explained in painful detail. It is on my list to do a write up on how to integrate the hardware and software.

This should get a reasonably competent hacker going.

Virtual radar server

posted on May, 8 2013 @ 10:52 AM
This is the route the Janets take to go to either to the TTR or Area 51. They turn the transponders off before making the turn to Area 51. If you watch the routes enough you will see some make the turn then turn it off. This morning I watched a Janet on flightradar fly to within 10 miles south of Area 51 before disappearing off the radar.

posted on May, 8 2013 @ 11:18 AM
reply to post by dogshark

Oooh, I haven't heard of that, it's interesting that the story is based around the Janet flights, it's not just a runway for test aircraft... It's certainly a possibility they've got something else in there, but we'll never know

reply to post by dowot

Ah, I hadn't seen that thread... I'm only 3 years behind everyone else
I'm not sure if it was the same plane, I think it was a different one, I was just using it to compare flight paths

posted on May, 8 2013 @ 11:34 AM
reply to post by FosterVS

I know it's existance is disputed, I really just put it there as a reference so that people could compare distances to from A51 to the plane

reply to post by gariac

Ah, I'll have to check that military mode website out, possibly get myself some equipment!! I'll make sure I stay on the lookout around the 15th, see if I can catch anything... Thanks for all the info

posted on May, 8 2013 @ 11:35 AM
reply to post by nepatitan

Ahhh so they were heading to Area 51!! I thought so
I haven't been watching them for very long, I'll stick with it and see if I find anything more

posted on May, 8 2013 @ 01:19 PM
There's another one appeared just now, same callsign

posted on May, 8 2013 @ 01:23 PM
reply to post by Florasaurus

Yup was even using the "cockpit view", very neat to see them approaching A51 from their point of view.
Flight numbers always start with www so very easy to find them on flight tracking.

posted on May, 8 2013 @ 01:53 PM
reply to post by dogshark

Nearby cities, Mesquite, Nevada; Scenic, Arizona; Littlefield, Arizona

Pahute Mesa Airstrip is a private-use airport located 31 miles northwest of Mercury, Nevada,
owned by the United States Department of Energy. Originally the location of a WWII Army Air Force auxiliary airfield, the airstrip was expanded in 1968 to allow transport aircraft to bring test materials and supplies to projects at Areas 19 and 20.

Pahute Mesa seems same location, as Chesire.

posted on May, 8 2013 @ 03:11 PM
Here is a quick review of how the Janets fly to the TTR (TNX) and Groom Lake (TKM/XTA/HOMEY) from McCarran (KLAS). All flights leave under the Janet callsign. All flights have the TTR as their stated destination, but at least half actually go to Groom Lake.

If you listen to clearance/delivery at KLAS, you can determine where the aircraft are headed. Flights to TNX usually have TPH in the callsign.TPH is the civilian airport in Tonopah, north of the TTR. Flights going to Groom Lake usually have FIDOE in the route. Note that has the routing information.

The transponders are NEVER turned off. If a plane is going to the TTR, it keeps the Janet callsign. If the plane is going to Groom Lake, it enters the range over the NNSS/N2S2/NTS whatever they call it this week DOE section of the NTTR. Usually the Device Assembly Facility (DAF, pronounced like the first half of daffy) is used as a visual marker.

At this point the Janet aircraft is handed over from Nellis control to the approach/departure frequency of Groom Lake. It is assigned a new squawk code. That is probably when the aircraft leave the FAA tracking data fed to the internet. The aircraft also get a new callsign that is changed monthly. That is, they are no longer called Janet. The mode-s code doesn't change, though the aircraft do have two mode-s systems on board. They could spoof the code if needed.

Flights to and from Groom Lake are at 14k to 15kft. Flights to the TTR are higher.

Again, let me be clear here, for the Janet aircraft, you are not seeing anything other than the FAA feed. Only the yellow aircraft on fr24 have a live feed.

Now I suppose you can keep an eye out for a "yellow Janet". It could happen. Aircraft can turn off the ADS-B feature that makes them trackable. Case in point is N2N, Steve Jobs aircraft. It always has the tracking turned on, After his death, the tracking was turned off. The plane is probably sold and the new owner doesn't want to be tracked.

I'm not sure if fr24 has announced this, but in some locations, they will be employing MLAT, a scheme to track aircraft that only use mode-s.

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