300K Track Suspected Nancy Pelosi Plane to Taiwan Online

More than 320,000 people were tracking the flight path of a U.S. military plane that may be carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and could be taking her to Taiwan.

Flight tracking site Flight Radar 24 showed that 321,000 people were monitoring SPAR19 as of early Tuesday morning and it was the most tracked flight in the world, though it is not known if Pelosi is currently on board the aircraft.

SPAR19, a U.S. Air Force plane, left Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia but its destination is not known and Flight Radar 24 simply lists it as "N/A." However, local media in Taiwan have reported Pelosi is expected to visit the island on Tuesday.

Pelosi would become the first speaker of the House to visit the island since Newt Gingrich in 1997 and the Chinese government has reacted with anger to her trip, calling it a provocation.

Taiwan's Apple Daily reported on Tuesday that Pelosi had traveled to Asia in a Boeing C-40C transport plane with the flight number SPAR19 and that the plane had departed Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in the Malaysian capital.

The number of people tracking SPAR19 reached more than 320,000 on Tuesday before falling back sharply, though thousands continued to monitor the aircraft on Flight Radar 24.

CNN political analyst Josh Rogin tweeted early on Tuesday: "The plane likely carrying the #Pelosi delegation, #SPAR19, is in the air, having departed Kuala Lumpur. It is taking a route around the Philippines to #Taiwan. Sources tell me this is designed to minimize the security risks."

Nonetheless, there was also speculation online that Pelosi could be traveling in a separate plane with the callsign SPAR20.

Joseph Wen, a member of the Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) community, tweeted earlier on Tuesday morning: "#SPAR20 executive plane taking off from Tokyo has landed at the Subang Air Force Base, and the call sign #SPAR19 with Ms. Pelosi is currently at this air base."

Subang Air Force Base reportedly shares facilities with Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport.

Andy Boreham, columnist with China's Shanghai Daily, noted that many were also monitoring another aircraft that was heading to Taiwan.

"People are watching this plane now, a civilian Beech King Air 360 with no public flight information, heading directly for Taiwan. It also avoided the South China Sea completely," Boreham tweeted.

"This flight is now the #7 most followed plane worldwide," he said.

Pelosi and her office have not provided details about her visit to Taiwan, citing security protocols, while Taiwan's Foreign Ministry said it had no information when reached by Newsweek. Pelosi's expected visit to Taiwan has not been formally confirmed.

Newsweek has asked Pelosi's office for comment.

However, local media in Taiwan reported that Pelosi is due to arrive on the island at Songshan Airport in Taipei at 10:20 p.m. local time. That would be 10.20 a.m E.T. and would likely mean Pelosi would be traveling at the time of writing.

The Chinese government has issued a series of strongly worded statements about Pelosi's visit.

On July 19, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: "If Speaker Pelosi visits Taiwan, it would seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations in the three China-U.S. joint communiqués and harm China's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

"It will have a severe negative impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and send a gravely wrong signal to 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces. China firmly opposes such a visit," Zhao said.

The U.S., like most other nations, doesn't formally recognize Taiwan as an independent country. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, but successive U.S. administrations have provided key support to the island, including supplying arms.

Tensions about the visit have continued ahead of Pelosi's trip to Asia and a Chinese missile destroyer appeared off the coast of Taiwan on Monday, according to the island's government in Taipei.

Nancy Pelosi
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, holds her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 29, 2022 and a US Air Force aircraft Boeing C-40C flight SPAR11 (Inset) carrying a delegation to Taiwan taxis on runway after landing at Songshan International Airport, amid rising threats from China, in Taipei, Taiwan, on November 25 2021. Thousands are tracking what is believed to be Pelosi's flight to Taiwan. Getty