The most-tracked aircraft in the world right now is a US Air Force jet that took off from Kuala Lumpur, as internet users seek to track US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a trip to Taiwan.
Almost 300,000 users are following every move of “SPAR19,” a US Air Force-operated Boeing C-40C, according to FlightRadar24. Taiwan’s Liberty Times newspaper had earlier reported that Pelosi is expected to arrive at 10:20 p.m. local time via private plane at Songshan airport in Taipei, which also hosts a military base.
There is no official confirmation that Pelosi is on the plane. Her potential trip to Taiwan has infuriated Beijing, which views the island as its territory and has warned of consequences if the trip goes ahead.
FlightRadar24, a popular aircraft-tracking website, normally has several thousand users following aircraft of interest — including emergency incidents or inaugural flights.
The SPAR19 flight took off from Kuala Lumpur’s Subang Airport at approximately 3.40 p.m., but headed east toward Borneo island, flying close to the Indonesian city of Manado before taking a turn north to the Philippines — steering clear of the South China Sea.
The top 10 most-tracked flights in the world were going to Taiwan, according to FlightRadar24 data. The second most-tracked plane on Tuesday after SPAR19 was a China Airlines flight from Jakarta to Taipei, with almost 20,000 followers.
09-0540 #SPAR19 is over Indonesia, heading toward east and tracked by 300k users.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) August 2, 2022
Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for FlightRadar24, said the US Air Force jet was among the site’s five most-tracked planes ever. The top flight on that list attracted 550,000 users who simultaneously followed Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny, when he took a commercial jet to Russia after undergoing treatment following a suspected poisoning attempt on his life.
The flight tracking website was working on adding more resources, Petchenik said, citing the “extremely heavy load” given the popularity for online plane spotting. It had no indication the website and app issues experienced on Tuesday were of a malicious nature.