Air surveillance radar used in air traffic control cannot pickup a single hummingbird. It might pick up swarms of migrating geese, but the technology has advanced not in sensitivity, bot more in capability and software. Where radar exists, and where you might be picked up on it, depends on where you're flying and what kind of airspace you're flying in. It also depends on how big of an airplane you've got...a small plane like smugglers would use is harder to be picked up. The busier the area, like in S. Calif, the greater your chance you will be on someone's radar scope, depending on how far you are from the antenna and your altitude. Departing LAX, you'll be on ATC radar from the surface, then at gradually ascending altitudes. ATC enroute control radar coverage exists throughout most of the U.S. and Mexican airspace (run by Mexico's govt, not US) from Mexico City all the way to the border. Yes, radar signals are distorted or blocked by terrain, weather, and other anomalies, and an airplane could entirely avoid radar detection if it flew not only low while enroute, but also took off and landed in a remote area where radars don't pick you up all the way to the surface.
I don't know what the smugglers do, but I'll wager it's at least one of three things:
1) The aircraft they fly are unregistered, and even if they are, they're registered to a non-existent or decoy entity.
2) They don't carry a transponder radio. A transponder is a device that sends information about the airplane, such as altitude, speed, and sometimes flight number to the radar controller. No info means all the controller sees is a dim little blip on his scope, has no idea where the airplane is from or where it's going, and has busier airline traffic to deal with anyway.
3) They don't file flight plans. Flight plans are in essence a record of the flight. No smuggler wants that. They just get in and go.
I applied for a cartel smuggling position, but I was told that if I ever opted to leave them they'd hunt me down and roll me up like a joint and smoke my a**. So I decided that good ol' boring transportation of suits was a better way to earn a paycheck. Disclaimer: That first sentence was a total lie.
· 9 years ago