Using ADS-B Exchange to Track Police and Military Aircraft Monitoring the George Floyd Protests

During the recent George Floyd BLM protests police and military aircraft have been playing a large part in the surveillance of protestors. All these aircraft are required to transmit ADS-B which of course can be monitored with an RTL-SDR or other SDR. Many volunteers around the world use RTL-SDRs to upload ADS-B data to an online aggregation service, so flight data from all over the world can be accessed in one place. However, most ADS-B aggregation services like FlightAware and FlightRadar24 censor police and military aircraft from the raw ADS-B data received from the RTL-SDRs. ADS-B Exchange is the only service that has a policy to not censor any aircraft.

Buzzfeed recently ran an interesting article that used ADS-B Exchange to highlight the flight paths of various surveillance aircraft used during the protests, as well as the aircraft types used and who they are registered to. Most interestingly they saw that two military Black Hawk helicopters and a CBP Predator drone was used in Minnesota, and two military Lakota helicopters were using in Washington, DC.

As mentioned in a previous post, ADS-B Exchange recently updated their interface and backend, and they now run tar1090, which is a fully featured ADS-B mapping platform that can display the historical tracks of any tracked aircraft.

We also note that on Twitter John Wiseman @lemonodor also runs several "advisory circular bots" that make use of ADS-B Exchange data to automatically tweet a notification when aircraft are detected as having a circular flight path.

Police helicopter historical tracks over Minneapolis via adsb-exchange.com
Police helicopter historical tracks over Minneapolis via adsbexchange.com

6 comments

  1. Troy

    Nice! I only randomly noticed military aircrafts on Radarbox (never on flightradar24). I think in lots of countries the military is not even allowed to interact in such crisis (I know this is the case e.g. for Germany). Surveillance if happening should be shown on any flightradar-service!

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