Screenshot from Airplane Webtrak online tool
Most air traffic Ballard sees comes from Anchorage, AK and cuts across Sunset Hill at NW 65th St.

How much airplane traffic does Ballard get?

Well, we don't have the answer to the question in the headline quite yet, but because of increased interest in our stories on airplane noise, we thought we might point you to a handy tool.

Port of Seattle Spokesman Perry Cooper, who has been involved with the rolling out of the Greener Skies program (which involves a smoother, slightly less noisy landing process but resultes in more clustered air traffic) showed us Aircraft Webtrak. It's an online tool that you can use to track current and past flight traffic. Besides being informative, it's pretty cool to play around with.

We haven't played around with it too much yet, but it appears flight traffic really isn't that heavy in Ballard, except for the occasional plane from Anchorage, AK which cuts across Sunset Hill at 65th St NW.

As we reported before, Loyal Heights resident David Ortman has filed a lawsuit against the Port of Seattle and the FAA because of airplane noise. He states that the airport's third runway, which was built 1,7000 feet west of the center runway, has caused planes to fly right over his home in the middle of the night. He claims that the increased airplane noise reduces his property value.

The Ballard News-Tribune did receive a few calls and emails from other residents in the area disregarding his claims. If you have an opinion, don't be afraid to write a letter to the editor to

Webtrak does give some credibility to the complaints from Beacon Hill residents who stormed the Greener Skies public meeting at the Ballard Branch Library (at the time, they didn't have their own meeting), as many airplanes funnel in right over their rooftops.

A recent Crosscut article points out that though FAA and Port of Seattle officials largely dismiss any noise decibel increase as negligible, the 1.5 decibel increase is still 30 percent more noise.

Though airplanes are supposed to be quieter with the new landing procedure, the increased efficiency causes the flight paths to be tighter, meaning more noise for a narrow strip and less noise on the outside margins of the flight paths.

Ballard has no noise monitoring stations like other neighborhoods, but the situation appears much less dramatic.

We'll try and get more specific numbers of how many flights pass over Ballard in the near future. Until then, check out the Aircraft Webtrak tool for yourself at

Follow Ballard News-Tribune on Facebook at

And Twitter at

We encourage our readers to comment. No registration is required. We ask that you keep your comments free of profanity and keep them civil. They are moderated and objectionable comments will be removed.