The US air force jet carrying US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan became the most watched flight on live air traffic tracking website Flightradar24 on Tuesday evening, after the flight departed the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
More than 700,000 users were monitoring the flight as it landed at Taipei Songshan Airport around 10:45pm Tuesday evening, the tracking portal said, adding that more than 2.92 million users followed at least a portion of the flight between Kuala Lumpur and Taipei, breaking Flightrader24 tracking records. The flight was not confirmed to be carrying Pelosi until after it touched down.
Instead of a typical route, which sends flights over the South China Sea for a roughly 4.5 hour journey from Taipei to Kuala Lumpur, the US jet instead cut a wide path eastward around the Philippines in its approach of Taiwan, according to flight tracker data. It landed after roughly seven hours in the air.
The route saw the plane steer clear of a long leg flying northeast over the South China Sea, where China has building up its military presence in recent years.
Pelosi, who is leading a congressional delegation in Asia, had not included a stop in Taiwan in her official itinerary, though expectations that she was planning a visit have fuelled US-China tensions since reports of a potential trip emerged last month.