Listen to me on KTRS/St. Louis every Friday, 3-6pm CT

Saturday, July 19, 2014

TMI Airlines

In discussing the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 on Thursday, I wondered whether the perpetrators were targeting that specific plane or simply shooting at whatever they thought they could hit. If it were the former, how would they know when a specific plane was in a specific location?

Turns out it's not that difficult to find out. There have long been flight tracking websites that tell you where a plane is, how fast it's going, how high it's flying, etc. But I didn't know until this week that Apple has built that information into Siri.

I just asked Siri, "What flights are overhead right now?" This is the information I got in response:

Pretty cool, but who needs that information? Most of us aren't even aware there are planes flying over us all day long, but on the occasions when I have looked up at one, I've never been curious about the flight. There are also sites that allow you to listen to live air traffic communications between pilots and control towers at pretty much any airport in the world. 

With all the paranoia we've lived through since 9/11/01 about terrorism and airplanes, why is all that data so publicly available while I still have to take off my shoes and keep my shampoo bottles under three ounces just to get through a TSA checkpoint?