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Annabelle and Celestine in the UV Form (Year 11) have recently spent their Monday lunchtimes working on an ambitious project to build and program (from scratch) an ADS-B aircraft tracking station on site here at St Mary’s Calne. The girls have successfully constructed, from component level up, a long range ground station that receives real-time data directly from aircraft within a 250 mile radius of the school. This data is then fed into the international FlightAware platform and used to accurately geo-locate aircraft globally. The girls’ platform is centred around a Raspberry Pi4 microcomputer and utilises a 1090mhz antenna, UDS-B radio receiver, and ADS-B filter to track thousands of flights daily. In fact, on most days the girls' setup is able to detect over 200,000 extremely accurate aircraft positions.

Annabel and Celestine programmed the software, and built and installed the device in the new garden outside the Science block. The feed is able to identify an incredible range of live data, including airspeed, altitude, flight track between source and destination, details of the specific aircraft being tracked, and even whether or not the flight is delayed! This was an incredibly challenging project but the girls saw it through to a successful completion, and have tracked more than 4,000,000 aircraft since the installation was completed.

If this article has piqued the interest of any other St Mary's students who would like to participate in similar future projects, they are encouraged to contact Mr Curran at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., who will be happy to advise on how you could get involved.