Pelosi’s flight to Taiwan was the most watched ever, according to Flightradar24

By Jackie Wattles, CNN Business

Speaker of the United States House Nancy Pelosi’s flight to Taiwanwhich boosted US support for the island nation but angered China, was the most tracked flight in the history of online flight tracking site Flightradar24.

The website, which uses a network of receivers to track the location and speed of planes, said on Wednesday more than 708,000 people around the world were following the flight when it landed in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei. And more than 2.9 million people followed at least part of the flight amid uncertainty over whether Pelosi would keep his promise to visit the island nation, whose independence is not recognized by China.

Although the stopover in Taiwan is not part of Pelosi’s official program for his Asia tour, a Taiwanese and American official confirmed to CNN on Monday that she would be making the stop. The decision came amid warnings from Biden administration officials, who raised concerns about how China would respond.

Pelosi, whose visit to Taiwan was the first of its kind in 25 years, said she intended the trip to make it “unequivocally clear” that the United States would “not abandon” the democratically ruled island. She was welcomed by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in a televised meeting. She thanked Pelosi for his visit and praised his commitment to democracy and awarded him Taiwan’s highest civilian honor.

Beijing warned that Pelosi’s trip would have a “serious impact on the political foundations of China-US relations” and responded with a series of military drills that began on Tuesday.

Pelosi traveled from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital, to Taipei aboard a Boeing C-40C (a military version of the Boeing 737) operated by the US Air Force, according to the flight tracker. The flight flew under the call sign “SPAR19”.

Flightradar24, which began as a passion project by two aviation enthusiasts, said in a blog post that traffic on his website became so intense that he nearly brought down the tracker, and he was forced to limit access to the site for non-subscribers by implementing a waiting room feature.

“Sustained and unprecedented interest in this particular flight has placed an extremely heavy load on Flightradar24’s infrastructure. Our teams immediately mobilized to maintain the stability of our services. Unfortunately, due to the volume of users, it has needed to deploy our lobby feature, which measures access to Flightradar24 for non-subscribers.

Shortly after Pelosi’s flight landed, the company was able to restore normal access for all users.

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CNN’s Jeremy Herb, Eric Cheung, Wayne Chang and Rhea Mogul contributed

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