Donate to support my work
What I do
For many years I've written open source software. Recently I've been focusing on aviation; specifically tracking aircraft and analyzing their behavior.
My Advisory Circular network of
twitter bots post in real-time whenever they detect aircraft
flying in circles over cities around the world, including Los Angeles, Baltimore, Portland,
and London. The bots often tweet about news and fire aircraft, and because they use an uncensored
of data they also tweet police, FBI, DHS, DEA, CBP, and military
aircraft. They look for circles because it means an aircraft is doing something instead of
going somewhere. If you've ever asked “what is that helicopter/plane?” there’s a good chance
bots can answer your question—even if it's an advanced military surveillance plane:
91-00504, a military Swearingen RC-26B Metroliner, is circling over Bancroft, Minneapolis at 8675 feet, squawking 0243, 0.06 miles from 39 St E #91_00504 https://t.co/ZAAowIcvwi pic.twitter.com/9WHKOSiskZ— Advisory Circular Minneapolis-St. Paul (@SkyCirclesMPLS) June 2, 2020
Discovered a massive,
secret, FBI aerial surveillance
program, involving more than 100 aircraft
registered to front companies. I was one of the first people to post online about the program. From a Fusion
This week, the Associated Press reported that the FBI is regularly flying “spy planes” over American cities. The report, which revealed the front companies the FBI uses to fly the planes, wasn’t a surprise to John Wiseman, a technologist in Los Angeles. Based on public records, he had already figured out some of the planes the FBI was flying and, using a device he programmed to intercept airplane transmissions, had identified over the last month the ones flying overhead in L.A. in real time. Wiseman wrote in a Hacker News comment in May about his findings, revealing a month ago what the AP reported today.
- I continue to help journalists with stories related to government aerial surveillance. For example, I contributed data that was used in an NBC News investigation into the use of National Guard aircraft for surveillance of protests after George Floyd's death.
- I created a Siri shortcut that lets you ask “Hey, Siri, what’s overhead” at any time, and it will tell you what the nearest aircraft is and who it's registered to. It uses the same uncensored data source as the Advisory Circular bots.
- Need a lo-fi front-end to your RTL-SDR? coole-radar is a radar display for the terminal.
- I enhanced the ADS-B Exchange feeder map to make it easier to see where feeder stations are, where they're needed, and how well they're working.
Cory Doctorow wrote a very nice twitter thread said about my work. Here are a couple things he said:
https://t.co/3LHYKnDoN1 is a project of @lemonodor, a furloughed Disney Imagineer who became obsessed with mysterious overhead aircraft and decided to monitor them, discovering (among other things) a massive, covert FBI aerial surveillance program.— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) August 20, 2020
A self-funded hobbyist is fighting the entire surveillance-industrial complex...and winning!— Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) August 20, 2020
Why I need money & what I'll do with it
I've always funded this work myself, but my finances took a significant hit last year when I was furloughed without pay for 4 months. So I am once again asking for your financial support (actually I've never done this before). If you want to support the work I'm doing, here's what your donation will pay for, in order of priority:
- Additional development work.
- Possibly hosting for the Advisory Circular bots and their geo database.
For #1, projects I'm either already working on or considering include the following:
- Improve ADS-B Exchange's support for mobile browsers.
- A mobile app that alerts you when aircraft of interest are about to fly near you.
- KML and GeoJSON export from the ADS-B Exchange website.
- "What if every aircraft had a social media account?"
- Other planet-scale analysis of aircraft behavior.
Re: #2, the bots and geo database are currently on an old PC sitting under my desk at home. Right at toddler height. It might be nice to host them somewhere more reliable, and look into giving access to the planet-wide geo database to people doing other, similar projects (such as the other people running their own Advisory Circular bots).
Ways to donate
I’ve spent hundreds of hours in development work trying to bring the public this essential information for free. I'd like to continue this work, both supporting existing projects and implementing new ideas.
If you would like to support this effort and help keep the servers running, please donate below. You can give a one-time donation with PayPal, Venmo, or Bitcoin; or you can sign up for a a recurring donation with PayPal.
Thanks for your help!