I have just notice that there are three Continental flights CO0037, CO0017 and CO0057 that are showing up on Planefinder today (11th Feb 2012 @ 1224 GMT) in the mid Atlantic. There were four but one has disappeared off the display. I have never seen planes plotted as far as this before. I am also intrigued that they are all from the same operator. Does anyone know the reason for this?
Interesting that you have set up a station on the Azores and that could be the answer though I do not know what range your receivers work at. The planes were about mid way across the Atlantic roughly between 50degs and 55degs North. I make that about 2000 km from the Azores. I just used the Playback feature on Planefinder.net setting it up for 1215 hrs GMT and playback speed of x120. You can see all that they were all Continental Airline planes. I have also noticed that there are more planes being picked up in the vacinity of the Azores.
Any plane flying to or from North America, can be tracked openly (no need for ADS-B data). Use any of the many websites for this, i.e. flightaware.com.
Plane finder however is useful for non-North American originating/terminating flights, which since 9/11, are not openly available.
Regarding your flights, Continental no longer exists (it now merged with United) and you are looking at originally Continental planes flying under the United banner.
How to tell? Tail numbers of ex-Continental planes all end in numerics, while tail numbers of the ex-United fleet all end in UA. Low flight numbers are all ex Continental flight numbers where the word continental became United.
The information on plane finder comes from official sources for North Atlantic flights, therefore it is when these planes provide position information, probably around 30 degres west. This gets fed to the web.
You can also see flights over Africa, in the middle of the Indian Ocean etc.
Thank you for the information regarding the merging of Continental and UA. Presumably no one has got around to 'rewiring' the callsigns yet!
I was not aware that PlaneFinder used other sources of flight data which explains the extended coverage that one would not expect from ADS-B receivers.