Mystery plane circles Admiral, and beyond

Lots of questions this afternoon about a small plane that spent at least half an hour doing circles over north West Seattle – then headed over to do some loops over the Kitsap Peninsula before returning minutes ago to Boeing Field. Here’s the FlightRadar24 screengrab as it headed back in:

No answers yet about what it was doing. We tried tracing it but its most-recent commercial owner, a flight school at Boeing Field, said it was recently sold. The current registered owner appears to be a company that traces to a Seattle lawyer who is shown in the FAA database as a licensed private pilot.

28 Replies to "Mystery plane circles Admiral, and beyond"

  • yeahright102 December 31, 2021 (4:06 pm)

    There was an “alert 2” at BFI/King County Airport for a light aircraft having landing gear problems at about this time.   It did end up landing safely but it if it was this aircraft that would explain the flight path.  They were trying to troubleshoot/resolve the problem prior to landing.   

    • WSB December 31, 2021 (4:35 pm)

      Thankd. But if they did, they resolved it and went on to fly the Kitsap loops, rather than going in for a landing immediately after all those WS circles.

      • D December 31, 2021 (5:23 pm)

        I forget if 489Y has the increased mass and modified main landing gear strut mods on it. Either way, could have departed at max takeoff weight, had an issue that the Pilot needed to circle to troubleshoot, then elect to head out west to burn fuel.A vanilla DA40 can have a max takeoff weight of ~2535lbs, and a max landing weight of ~2407lbs. Assuming departure at max takeoff weight, that’s 21 gallons of fuel to burn off.Or, the pilot was just out enjoying a nice day of flying, perhaps taking pictures of something in West Seattle, abiding by the regulations and there is nothing to get spun up about.Too bad the Boeing Tower LiveATC feed has been down for over a week. The archive there would have 100% resolved the question, as all the circling was within Tower’s airspace. Have you tried calling the tower and asking them?

    • 22blades December 31, 2021 (6:36 pm)

      Between the multiple orbits inside BFI’s traffic airspace, right on a visual departure corridor & the uniform pattern by Kitsap I would have guessed it was Law Enforcement or Civil Air Patrol if it weren’t a little Diamond aircraft (which is not a plane suited to observation or search work). It actually is kinda weird. Lets get my tin hat on!!! It’s probably some WS guy yanking our chain!

  • Furor Scribendi December 31, 2021 (4:26 pm)

    Yes, we noticed this plane (Cessna 150-type) circling around Westwood and upper Fauntleroy, in a series of counter-clockwise circles. It was circling and loosing altitude, but came back higher and then disappeared to the west. Perhaps a training flight – – hope a flight plan was filed and followed. 

    • Neighbor December 31, 2021 (5:10 pm)

      N489Y is a Diamond DA40, not a Cessna 150.  Looks like altitude was stable over WS and Kitsap.  See the FlightRadar24 link in the article.

  • Florence Kay Fiddler Lovell December 31, 2021 (4:33 pm)

    It made me nervous flying so low over the houses.  I finally went and videod it for a couple circle around.  No numbers identifying I could see, but I’m old and so are my eyes.  Are there rules about circling low over houses?

    • D December 31, 2021 (5:13 pm)

      Yup, there are. And that aircraft wasn’t violating them. According to ADS-B data, they were above 1000 ft above congested areas as required by 14 CFR 91.119.

  • cjboffoli December 31, 2021 (4:42 pm)

    I first heard this plane at 1:35 over my South Admiral house and listened it for an hour before it finally broke out of its pattern and flew west. The aircraft I saw was a totally white Diamond DA-40 so I wonder if some others are talking about the same plane. And if they actually were having gear problems it seems to me that an easier, more stable pattern (without being in a constant turn) would have been a bit more conducive to resolving their issues.

    • Neighbor December 31, 2021 (5:12 pm)

      The Diamond DA40 has fixed gear.  I suppose it could still have landing gear issues but I’m not sure how that could be resolved in the air.  I think the gear problem was a different plane.

  • aRF December 31, 2021 (5:31 pm)

    N489Y is a Diamond DA40. It has fixed gear so this was not the aircraft with gear trouble.  I counted over two dozen circles over Admiral when I looked it up on Flightaware this afternoon.

  • seaview resident December 31, 2021 (8:56 pm)

    I’m confused as to why this is even being discussed. If the plane broke no laws whats the concern? 

    • m December 31, 2021 (9:56 pm)

      Because it was unusual to have a plane going around in circles for over 30 minutes.  I was worried it might be having a problem and it was flying over a densely populated area.

    • momosmom January 1, 2022 (7:13 am)

      Seaview you know why…rolling my eyes!!!

    • cjboffoli January 1, 2022 (8:49 am)

      There is a lot of behavior/activity that while technically legal can still be annoying and inconsiderate to others. Even for me (a tremendous aviation enthusiast) the noise of having a general aviation aircraft buzzing over my neighborhood for an hour was a nuisance.

    • Hammer in Hand January 1, 2022 (12:44 pm)

      Totally AgreePlane was in the Air  this is not newsplane crash on the ground is news

      • WSB January 1, 2022 (1:54 pm)

        Yes, it’s news when we get tons of people asking why a plane is doing dozens of circles over a specific area. Or a helicopter. So, we published this to let people know what (little) we had been able to find out. News, which has been my profession for 40+ years, is something unusual, and this was certainly unusual. – TR

  • David December 31, 2021 (9:14 pm)

    If the airplane had a mechanical issue it should have been flying over the water rather than a densely populated residential area.

    • Neighbor December 31, 2021 (11:16 pm)

      That’s just like, your opinion man.

  • ttt December 31, 2021 (11:34 pm)

    This thread is stupid. Were they breaking flight rules? If not, then let the pilot have their fun. 

    • Neighbor January 2, 2022 (9:53 am)

      Rules can change.  If pilots behave inconsiderately, even within the rules, they may undermine the future of their hobby.  Small planes like the DA40 use leaded fuel.  This lead falls down to the neighborhood below.  As a resident of the area I’m not thrilled about planes loitering like this.

  • Admyrl Byrd January 1, 2022 (1:21 am)

    The DA40 is little more than a drone capable of flying four people – its sister the DA20 is the first round trainer for potential USAF pilots.  More than likely, someone with a little money in WS just got their private’s license and bought the plane and is just seeing the sights.  As long as it wasn’t below 1k feet, all’s good.  Maybe he/she will take others aboard at some point…

  • Sleepless in WS January 1, 2022 (8:49 am)

    I heard a plane overnight a few times.

  • John Vicech January 1, 2022 (9:03 am)

    The blog is great that we are able to discuss this. 

  • Furor Scribendi January 1, 2022 (4:00 pm)

    Glad for this thread, an outlet for all the flying fans round here.Maybe we’re discussing two different planes. I saw a Cessna-150 type with standard tail and landing gear without boots, not a DA-40, circling between Westwood and High Point. We may never know why, but looks like the story is more complex than one plane on a joyride.

  • WSDad January 1, 2022 (6:40 pm)

    This happened today (Jan 1) over Walt Hundley Playfield about 2 pm. A white Cessna style plane circled around the park. They did about 10 loops and then headed north towards alki. The aircraft was banking really hard and at a super slow speed. It looked really risky. Odd. 

    • Tyr1001 January 3, 2022 (7:40 am)

      This sounds like training. One of the maneuvers private pilots are required to demonstrate is turns around a point, and that playfield has a couple things that would make a good landmark for it. Anyway, the maneuver has you flying low (~1,000’agl) and turning pretty sharply so I’d guess that’s what was being practiced

  • Carrie January 2, 2022 (10:48 am)

    Insider Intel of someone who works at Boeing tells me the pilot was doing an “engine break in” . 

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