Glider tracking!

THEY  are young, smart and very much dedicated to soaring and to their club the FAC [Friese Aero Club] in the Northern part of Holland.

Nk 2013 glider tracking 002
They, Frank, Jens and Jip ,have introduced a tracking system using ADS-B technology. Their goal is,  to make soaring more visible for a bigger audience!

I know there are different interesting and good tracking systems in our soaring-world and I have told you already about  these boys in the past, but they improve their product every time  so, before they share an update with all of us, I better introduce them to you with pictures, as I believe in their system.

Nk 2013 glider tracking 003   Nk 2013 glider tracking 004

Jens Bouma                                                            Frank Hiemstra

Nk 2013 glider tracking 005

Jip van Akker

Why GliderTracking?

Gliding is a wonderful sport, but very difficult to explain to family and friends. During competitions, spectators can only see sailplanes taking off during and after 5 hours the competing pilots return to the same airport as where they departed. Where are all the competition pilots? Do they have enough height to make it home? What are the average speeds? How far do they have to fly right now?

With the latest technology it is possible to track/follow all gliders during a competition. Live tracking is very suitable to pursuit the goal to make the sport of gliding more visible to a larger audience. Spectators at the competition site and at home can follow the pilot, like you are in the middle of it.

 JIP 1 aansluiting

connecting the ADS-B system in the glider

GliderTracking: background and the idea

Back in 2009, we noticed that Mode-S transponders would quickly become mandatory in (parts) of the Dutch airspace, even for gliders. With transponders being quite an investment, we checked if there would be any direct benefits (at all) for us glider pilots.

Apart from indirect safety, through air traffic controllers utilizing Mode-S, it appeared that transponders wouldn’t offer us anything else. Then, we noticed that ADS-B (explained below) was becoming more and more popular in general aviation. By actively sending out your own position through a powerful transponder, we realized that it was obvious to use this for live tracking. During the Dutch nationals in 2010 we started experimenting with using ADS-B-out in some participating sailplanes. This turned out to be very promising, so we continued to promote others to enable ADS-B-out in their sailplanes.

One of the main problems to overcome was coverage. With a simple ADS-B receiver setup you can easily receive airlines up to 200-300 km. But sailplanes are flying much lower, and output with less power, so a good network of multiple receivers is essential for tracking gliders.

jip 2ADSB antenne  jip 3 adsb antenne 2

ADS-B antennas.

After that first experiment in 2010, we continued working on a live tracking platform and published this during the next Dutch nationals in 2011. As of 2013, we have 98 registered sailplanes in The Netherlands equipped with ADS-B-out, this number is still growing!

What is ADS-B?

For those who don’t know it yet, ADS-B stands for “Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast”.
ADS-B is information that is transmitted with the transponder signal. This information contains position information from GPS/NMEA data (position, height and speed),
together with airplane identification and transponder identification.
With the ADS-B receivers, we obtain this information, and filter out relevant aircraft types (sailplanes) and display it on our tracking map.
There are many other live tracking websites based on ADS-B signal, but these are mostly made for commercial flights/airliners.
Our application has its pure focus on glider flights; we support gliding competitions, we place ground stations (to receive ADS-B signal also for low level flying around gliding airfields), and use excising receiver networks to give actual tracking information to the pilots. Activating ADS-B-out is very simple (depending on the regulations in your country), by connecting a GPS source to your Mode-S transponder.

jip 5 tracking picture  jip 6 tracking picture 2

Pictures of  the tracking!

The advantages of ADS-B-out

  • Live tracking capabilities
  • Enhanced visibility and accuracy, compared to the conventional radar systems
  • Through ACAS (Airborne Collision Avoidance System) possible collisions between aircraft can be detected and prevented
  • ADS-B has a greater range, compared to FLARM
  • Possibility for Search & Rescue to determine a position fix, in case of emergency


What’s next?

The initial goal is still the same; to make gliding more visual to anyone on the ground. It doesn’t really matter what tracking technology is used, we’re trying to combine different tracking methods. The regulations around ADS-B are not the same in every country. Also, discussions around ADS-B are far from completed, given the recent attention to safety insecurities around ADS-B with airliners.

jip 4 mobile

you can follow the tracking also  by mobile

We’re asking you to contact us if you’re willing to work on expanding the GliderTracking system in your country. Besides knowledge on ADS-B in other countries, we’re interested in combining other live-tracking technologies into one GliderTracking platform.

 For more information, have a look on our website;, contact us by e-mail ( or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Here is a link to a video;

Jens, Jip & Frank, team GliderTracking


Hope you ALL find it interesting as well. Thanks Guy's!
Frank,  is flying the Dutch National Championships  at the moment and today is  flying-day 2 and of course it was possible,  to follow Frank and nearly all other Dutch competitors on this trip today on glider tracking via internet! Unfortunately ,...however ,.....this way we all could see, that Frank had to make an out landing after 95.8  km., even more unfortunately, .....the only one in his class. But that's soaring too. By the way all 11 pilots in the combi class outlanded today and in 18m./ open ,10 from 21 made it home!

I got their news a bit later than expected. Sorry about that!
when you want to follow the Dutch Nationals, on till Friday May 17 , last day!

For all other news and comps about last week you can read
cheers Ritz

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Since before the word “blog” was created, Ritz wrote about her experiences every day after flying at the Sportavia Soaring Center in Australia, where she helped run a successful business from 1996 to 2005. Her first blogs on date from June 2006, and she has been blogging ever since, joining Soaring Café in January 2011. She says her experience as columnist for Gliding International and blogger for Soaring Café has enriched her world more than she can say and that her soaring friends keep her young and ”going”.

Read Ritz' full bio under the menu item About -> Our Contributors.

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  3 comments for “Glider tracking!

  1. May 13, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    Hi Ritz. Great info and good to see ADS-B being tested in sailplanes!

  2. May 14, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Because of the fact that transponders in gliders are compulsary in Holland, the only extra effort a pilot has to take is installing one single cable between his GPS and his transponder. to transmit ADS-B signals.
    There fore it is worthwihle making a tracking system on the ground. Jens Frank and Jip are not the only ones doing that in Holland. On you will find a similar site.

    Hopefully you wil have the oppertunity to see a part of the Dutch National, which will end on Sunday the 19th of May. Up until now the wether was not to good……

  3. May 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Good article! The thing about using during competitions: once you have seen it in actions it seems like it has always been there (as with all good software). It is that good and straightforward. Unique are the competition tasks wich can be superimposed over the terrain.

    @Jan.. “Therefore” “weather”

Comments are closed.