The first thing I can suggest is that you decide on which website you’re going to use as your primary website. For a while I chose to use adsbexchange.com. However, recently I decided against using the website primarily due to a change in the interface they used. I’m not 100% sure why they decided to change it, however it isn’t nearly as easy to use as the previous interface was. Because of this, I’ve switched to using planeradar.ru, which uses an interface very similar to the interface adsbexchange.com used previously! There are loads of different flight tracking websites available, and they all do different things. FlightRadar24.com is a great website to use if you’re interested in tracking civilian flights, and the occasional military flight if you’re lucky enough to find one. Radarbox24 is also another great website for the same purpose.
Understanding the website
It’s very important that you understand the website that you’re deciding to use before you dive into tracking specific flights. For this brief tutorial I’m going to be using the flight tracking website planeradar.ru, so the information provided will be for this specific website, however, some of the information can translate well over to adsbexchange.com if you’re still using their old interface.
When you first go onto planeradar.ru, you’ll be presented with a map, some options, and a panel on the right side which will display information about a flight that you’ve selected.
The first thing I recommend doing is adjusting the language to English. In order to do this you’ll need to click on the gear on the top left, then click on the 2nd option where it displays the flag of Russia. From there, select English, then select which country you’re from. For me, I’d select English, and then English (United States).
The next thing you’ll need to do is decide on whether or not you’re primarily going to be using the website to track military flights, or civilian flights. But, don’t worry! If you’d like to use the website for both, you can do so by adjusting filters, which we’ll dive into momentarily.
The 2nd thing I recommend you do is change the map you’re going to be using. In order to do this you’ll need to do the following. Click the icon next to the “PlaneRadar.ru” logo on the top right of your display. From there you’ll be presented with numerous different types of maps. The one I typically select is Carto Dark. I like the dark theme and I like that all of the countries are displayed in English, it makes it easier to see and understand what I’m viewing. However, whichever map you select is entirely up to you.
Just a heads up, if you select Carto Dark as your map, you can adjust the brightness of the map by clicking the farthest right button next to the Menu, it looks like this.
From there, just adjust the brightness slider until you’re comfortable with the one you’ve found.
Adjusting settings and filters
Next step I recommend you take care of requires you to dive into your settings. In order to do so, you need to click the “Menu” tab, and then from there, select “Options”. Once you’re in the General tab, quickly look through what you’re presented with, and make adjustments where you deem necessary. For me, I’d adjust all units of measurement from the metric system, to the imperial system, as the US uses that specific unit of measurement. The “General” tab is purely whatever you prefer.
The next tab is the “Map” tab. Most of the time I leave this tab the way it is, as there’s nothing in here that improves my experience, or makes it worse. However if there’s something that you’d like to mess around with, or try out, here’s a place for you to do it.
Next tab is the “Aircraft” tab which is arguably the most important tab aside from the filters tab. I’ll start with the “Aircraft Display” tab. Here, I leave everything the way it is. I do not make any adjustments to this section at all. Next section is the “Aircraft Trails” section. Here, I change “Show just for the selected aircraft” to “Show for all aircraft”, as it allows me to see all of the aircraft trails, not just trails for a selected aircraft. Next, I keep “Position and altitude” selected.
“Aircraft Details” is also very important, whatever you adjust here will display on the window to the right, which displays information based on the aircraft that you click on. If you wish to make edits to this, first you must click on the blue lock next to the “Add” button. Once you’ve unlocked it, you’re able to remove, or add specific details to the list. Typically I’ll remove “Route”, “Species”, “Manufacturer”, “Year Built”, “MLAT”, “Engines”, and “Wake Turbulence”. Sometimes I’ll add “Map” but not always.
Next tab is the “List” tab. The “List” is what displays under the information we just edited in the “Aircraft” tab. Under “Sort aircraft list” I tend to leave everything the way that it is, however this is purely up to the person reading this and their preference for the way they’d like to gather information. Next is “List Settings”. Adjusting this is very similar to how you adjusted aircraft details in the previous tab. In order to make adjustments, you must unlock the section using the blue lock. Once you’ve unlocked it you’re free to make adjustments based on what you would like to view.
Typically for this I’ll remove “Route”, “ICAO”, “MLAT”, and “Civil/Military”. I do not add anything to this section either.
Next is the all important Filters tab. Under here, the first thing you’re going to want to select is “Enable filters”. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to click the drop down box, and browse through the filters presented. I typically will add just military and “Interesting”. The interesting filter will display aircraft that the website determines is interesting. It’ll display really neat things like flights for important sports teams, Google weather balloons, etc. The military filter is self explanatory, it’ll display military flights. Find the filter you’d like to add, select it, and then select “Add filter”. Once you’ve done that, and you selected “Enable filters”, click the check mark to the left of the filter you added, exit out of the Options window, and the map will automatically update based on the filters you selected.
Understanding the map
Once you’ve done everything listed above, and you’ve gotten your settings adjusted, etc, you’re ready to browse the map for various flights. Simply click and drag around Europe, Asia, the Americas, etc, and you’ll be presented with various flights belonging to different countries military’s. If you click on one of the little white planes on the map, info for the flight will pop up on the left. If you’re curious what a specific plane does, a simple Google search will typically yield results.
Hopefully after this you’ll be able to navigate your desired plane spotting website! If you have any issues or questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me via Twitter or Discord, I’ll do my best to help you out. Also, if you enjoy using the various websites, consider picking up a receiver, and getting that setup so you can feed data to these sites, as they rely purely on various receivers spread throughout the world to gather information on flights. They simply cannot run without assistance from the rest of the world.
Just a heads up! I’ve launched the Intel Doge forum, which can be found by going to https://forum.inteldoge.com/, simply sign up for an account, and get started on the forum! Also, I’ve switched hosting providers. During this process, I lost every single blog post I’d made on the old IntelDoge website. So, I’ll be revitalizing this site over the next few months with various posts. I’d written a “Getting started with flight tracking” post on my previous website, along with a tutorial on using SDR sites as well, which I plan on reposting over the next few days as well, so stay tuned for that.
While I have your attention, I’d like to thank each and every single one of you lovely people for your incredible support over the past month. Between the Australia fires, the Soleimani assassination, the Iran ballistic missile attack, and numerous other events, I’ve been quite busy trying to keep the Twitter page updated. It’s been a nearly 24/7 event, I’ve broken my sleeping schedule, but the support I’ve received from all of you has made this entirely worth it, so thank you so much for that!