Sometimes, things are incredibly useful. Sometimes, they are just incredibly fun. And sometimes, like this live wind map, they are nothing short of hypnotic. This live flight tracker falls into the hypnotic category.
If you've heard of the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, also known as ADS-B, then you have my permission to stop reading. If you haven't, it works like this: airplanes track their own location via GPS from a satellite. The ADS-B, which is located on said aircraft, then transmits this data to the world. Flightradar24 picks it up and transmits the locations of these commercial airplanes to the world.
And, me oh my, there are quite a few airplanes in the air at any point. At the moment, only 60 percent of passenger aircraft are equipped with ADS-B. So, when Flightradar24 creates its live flight tracking map, that's what you're seeing.
The FAA receives information on all aircraft, and Flightradar24 gets the rest of its information this way. But those are stuck on a five-minute delay, as opposed to the ADS-B's live tracking.
Just staring at this map can be a fairly mind-boggling exercise, when you consider how many planes are flitting around the sky.
Take a look.