A U.S. military jet which is reportedly carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is currently the world’s most tracked aircraft as internet users seek to work out whether the Democrat Congresswoman will go ahead with a highly controversial visit to Taiwan against the wishes of the Biden administration.
At one point on Tuesday, more than 300,000 people worldwide were tracking the U.S. Air Force Boeing C-40C aircraft via Flightradar24 as it headed from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to an undisclosed location using callsign SPAR19.
Flightradar24 is a popular flight tracking website based in Sweden that uses aircraft ADS-B broadcast signals sent to ground-based receivers, as well as satellite data and several other sources to track thousands of flights live around the world every day.
In a statement, Flightradar24 said it was experiencing “unprecedented sustained tracking interest“ in Pelosi’s flight. The website was struggling to cope as hundreds of thousands of people tried to simultaneously log on.
The 11-year-old aircraft that is reportedly carrying Pelosi has been transmitting data to allow it to be publicly tracked but there is no official confirmation of whether she is onboard. Sources, however, claim Pelosi is due to arrive in Taipei at 10:20 pm on Tuesday evening.
The White House has been dismayed by Pelosi’s decision to push ahead with her Taiwan engagements because the visit has infuriated Beijing. National Security Coordinator John Kirby told reporters yesterday that the administration would also be keeping a close eye on Pelosi’s jet to see if it headed to Taiwan.
Following an intervention from the Biden administration, Pelosi removed Taiwan from an official list of countries and territories that she planned to visit as part of a tour of the region but she could still defy the White House and make a short stop on the island that Beijing claims is part of the People’s Republic of China.
Pelosi’s aircraft took off from Kuala Lumpur at approximately 3:40 pm local times and initially tracked south away from the South China Sea before heading towards the Philipines.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.