HomeTechnologyHow a Florida college student tracked down Elon Musk's plane

How a Florida college student tracked down Elon Musk’s plane


As a freshman at the University of Central Florida, Jack Sweeney tapped into his love of Tesla, SpaceX, and aviation. He knows a thing or two about aircraft systems and how GPS positioning information is a matter of publicly available data.

He learned that part from his father, who, according to Jack, works in the aviation industry. Combined with his savvy programming knowledge, at the age of 18 Jack developed an algorithm that leverages public aircraft data and extracts what is needed from this otherwise mundane aircraft information to form a useful way of seeing when and where some of the most interesting private aircraft are. next takeoff.

How Jack Tracks

Sweeney learned early on that it is the meaty ADS-B data that is rich in information, such as the aircraft’s GPS position, altitude, and ground speed that is transmitted to ground stations every second by aircraft in flight. flight. ADS-B is short for Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast and was originally designed to interface between aircraft avionics and air traffic control systems.

Jack Sweeney claimed that an anonymous Twitter employee explained to him that his account had “severely restricted/limited visibility internally” on December 2.
(Getty Images, File)

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What’s Already Public About Elon Musk’s G650 Private Jet

A recent trip from a private airfield in Miami to Oakland, California, near Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters and less than an hour from Tesla’s Fremont factory, shows the following to the public on Twitter:

  • 2,574-mile flight from OPF to OAK touched down in 5 hours and 18 minutes from takeoff in Miami
  • 2,673 gallons with a weight of 17,915 pounds of fuel used
  • $17,348 fuel cost
  • 28 tons of CO2 emissions

You can see the amount of estimated carbon emissions from each of Musk’s private jet trips. The data that is shared on ElonJet’s feeds also shows the amount of fuel burned, the cost, and the duration of the private flight.

Air-ground air traffic systems offer a number of public data points. The most annoying thing for the billionaire is the location of his plane and his next destination. The information makes it nearly impossible for Musk to arrive at one of his business locations unannounced.

Several popular flight tracking apps, such as FlightAware and FlightRadar24, available on the app store, use the same aircraft data for tracking.

Several popular flight tracking apps, such as FlightAware and FlightRadar24, available on the app store, use the same aircraft data for tracking.

Taylor Swift, Air Force One, Putin and the Russian oligarchs make the list too

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Jack also tracks Russian oligarchs and communist leader Putin’s jet, which seems to fly exclusively within Russian airspace. Task forces from NATO countries interested in seizing any of the multibillion-dollar private jets will no doubt appreciate seeing where each one lands next.

Aircraft data is public.

Several popular flight tracking apps, such as FlightAware and FlightRadar24, available on the app store, use the same aircraft data for tracking.

Anonprofit called the OpenSky Network has been collecting raw aircraft data since 2013 and offering it to researchers and academics. They have collected over 30 trillion ADS-B, Mode S, TCAS and FLARM messages and claim to have the largest air traffic surveillance data sets in the world.

Jack Sweeney’s use of ElonJet technology is not unlike popular aircraft tracking apps.

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Today, in addition to Sweeney’s automatic jet feeds that display information about notable aircraft, the same data is used in several popular flight tracking apps, such as FlightRadar24, available on Google Play and Apple App Stores. Another app, OpenADSB, tracks Elon’s jet and any other aircraft you want to see simply by entering the record in the queue, also known as the “N” number.

Musk can’t cancel Jack’s ElonJet tracking: Here’s where you can get it

Jack also posts the tracking of his private plane on Instagram, Facebook, Telegram and Truth. You can seelinks to all your aircraft tracking sources here. Jack doesn’t charge for the clever automatic updates so far, only offering them as a service providing insight into an area the super-rich and controlling billionaire would rather not be discussed. No social network, aside from Musk’s Twitter, has indicated any interest in banning or censoring Jack’s various aircraft tracking projects.

Many on the left are sounding the alarm about Elon Musk's takeover of Twitter.

Many on the left are sounding the alarm about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter.

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shooting the messenger

Why target a smart 20-year-old college student who idolizes innovators like Musk when all Sweeney wants at the end of the day, by his own admission, is an internship alongside Musk?

If you don’t like public data being available as a result of the FAA and aviation legacy processes meant to help planes fly, change it like you did with the electric car and space travel.

Dear Elon, what chance is there that you will take this opportunity to step out from behind the wizard’s curtain and choose to embrace another intelligent human being who could potentially help you get to Mars? At the very least, both of you could add something meaningful as friends instead of attacking someone who isn’t your size.

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As it stands now, I see a billionaire big-tech thug who looks more like the Wicked Witch of the West going after Toto the dog from “The Wizard of Oz” to ruin Dorothy’s trip.

We all know how that turned out in the end.



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