To piggyback on Colin's post about recording effects in urban environments. How do you avoid air traffic? I'm in DC and between two major airports and in the flyover zone for the Pentagon and White House. Unpredictable government air traffic aside, is there a resource that you use to plan recording around air traffic?

I've done night/early morning recording and mostly avoided air traffic. But, I have also driven 60-80 miles out to the country, only to find out that I'm in the holding pattern flight path for IAD. I feel like there has to be a web resource that allows you to map it out. Anybody know?

5 Answers 5


This article is an interesting read: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/01/27/an-unquiet-nation.html

The gist of it is, that there are very few places in left this country that you can find 15 minutes without noise.

I saw a map somewhere on the net (can't find it now) that charts all of the air traffic pathways in the US. Basically, there really isn't a place that isn't covered by air traffic (especially the east coast). You're only bet is to record late night / early morning when planes don't fly. Even the wilderness is covered with air traffic now. The further you get away from airports, the more likely you can get a least a few minutes of silence. But that is almost impossible on the East Coast, since everything is so close to each other.

  • Wow. What a terribly depressing article. I think I'm going to have to read his book, and quite possibly travel to the One Square Inch itself. After reading the article I did some googling with more appropriate terms and I think I found the map you were talking about. I'll link it below. It's actually way worse than I thought. Chalk up one more reason to ditch the East Coast. Thanks for the direction @Chuck! Jul 7, 2010 at 12:54

Here is the tracker I use. Very reliable in my exp, and iPhone compatible!


  • Nice @Rene! And a bonus point for iPhone compatability. Jul 8, 2010 at 12:34

NATCA's Real Time (5-minute delayed) Flight Traffic Map

Thanks Chuck for sending me down the right path!

  • Thanks...very interesting. Looks like I'm heading to North East Montana or Central Nevada for my next outdoor venture...
    – Justin P
    Jul 7, 2010 at 16:29

Where I live low flying light propellor aircraft are more of a problem than big jets, they are more common at daytime on weekends, particularly in the summer I think.

Also, in general military aircraft tend to be louder than airliners, although airbases usually have less traffic than commercial airports.


I've worked on gigs all over the country and it is nearly impossible to find a spot without air traffic. I just did a feature film shoot in Western, NE (do a Google Maps search) and even there we had to wait for high-flying planes. The only spot I have ever been without hearing a plane, train, or car all day long was the Boundary Waters Wilderness Canoe Area on the Minnesota/Canada border.

  • That's a good point @Matthew, how do the feature location guys deal with air traffic? Do location scouts ever take into consideration flight patterns through their chosen site? How much time/film do you waste waiting for planes to go by? Or do you just slog through it and expect to ADR it all in the end? Jul 8, 2010 at 12:38

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