Musk came to China on a private jet, and he may be one of the first to know

Yesterday, Reuters first reported the news of Musk's arrival in China through eyewitnesses who saw Musk's private jet arriving in Beijing.

But maybe, there is one person who has known Musk's whereabouts earlier, and he is Jack Sweeney.

▲ Sweeney, who was born in 2002, has tracked the private jet trajectory of celebrities since high school

In 2022, Sweeney once attracted attention for tracking the whereabouts of celebrity private jets, and Musk's private jet was one of the tracked objects.

From star chasing Musk to being banned by Musk

Sweeney was exposed to aviation technology at an early age, as his father was an American Airlines technician.

When he was a child, when his father was on a business trip, he already knew how to track his father's flight through public information, telling his mother: "Daddy is coming home soon."

In 2020, Sweeney is still in high school, and like many people, he is stuck at home and a bit bored.

Looking at the photos of Tesla on the wall of the room, Sweeney had an idea and wrote a Twitter robot to automatically track and update the movement of Musk's private jet.

More than a year later, Sweeney suddenly received a message from Musk on Twitter: "Can you stop this? It's a security risk."

Excited and nervous, Sweeney took her mobile phone to find her parents and friends for advice. It took 19 hours to reply to Musk: "Yes, but you got a Model 3. Are you kidding, unless?"

Musk offered $5,000, and Sweeney said $50,000.

Musk replied, "It doesn't feel right to turn this off for money," and blocked him.

Tesla reportedly spent $700,000 on Elon Musk's private jet travel in 2018, including flights to move his jet from one side of LA to another | Business Insider India

A year later, a new round of turmoil struck.

In November 2022, when Musk said he would acquire Twitter to protect freedom of speech, he tweeted about it:

I am so determined to protect free speech that I would not ban an account that tracked my plane, even if it was an immediate personal safety risk.

By December, he had shut down Sweeney's Twitter account for tracking his flights, as well as other Sweeney accounts for tracking celebrity private jets. Twitter has also issued new rules to prevent the posting of real-time news of private jets.

How does Sweeney cope?

He set up a new Twitter account and continued to share the whereabouts of Musk's private jet, but the information was delayed by 24 hours.

In addition, he also made a sweater called "Hypocrisy" and sold it online, with Musk's tweets promising not to block his account printed on it.

Rich people have private jets, but little privacy

The reality is, if Musk hadn't bought Twitter and created new rules for the platform, no one would have stopped Sweeney from posting real-time information about celebrity private jets.

If you want to track flight information, you basically need to know how to make good use of public information released by different airline agencies.

In the United States, most aircraft, whether private or public, are required to be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B).

The technology would allow aircraft to send information such as altitude, geographic location or speed directly to FAA ground stations, other aircraft or satellites.

The main role of ADS-B is to help pilots and air traffic control understand the flight situation and avoid accidents. This technology can also help companies and employees' families to understand the flight situation.

ADS-B information is public and available to anyone with a radio receiver and computer.

It's not illegal to put information together.

Some people say that aviation information is not public, but a lot of information is completely open.

(saying it's not public) is like saying it's not public to receive AM or FM with a car radio. The signals are there, and receiving them is not illegal.

Sweeney emphasized. As long as you know the serial number of the celebrity's private jet, it is not difficult to track it, because in theory, the plane is also using public resources in the air.

Over the years, more and more enthusiasts have been tracking flight, which can make the rich have a headache.

Last year, Bernard Arnault, the world's richest man and LVMH boss, officially "surrendered":

Indeed, our group had an aircraft and we sold it.

Now, no one can know my whereabouts, because when I want to use a private jet, I rent it directly.

In addition to whereabouts, the private jet tracking account will also "handily" calculate the carbon emissions of the convenient commuting of the rich, so that executives who claim that the company will reduce carbon can face the burning greenhouse gases.

▲ Musk’s trip to Beijing produced 48 tons of carbon emissions

In addition to company executives, Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, Steven Spielberg, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and other stars have all been criticized by the public for their carbon emissions from private jets.

Unfortunately, just like Arnault's choice, these criticisms have not brought more positive changes for the time being, but more hidden awareness among the rich.

We have clients asking if now is a good time to sell their aircraft.

Quite a few people now charter planes for super important trips because they want to maintain anonymity and privacy.

As for their own private jet, they'd rather not use it, it's not worth the risk.

Matt Walter, director of business development at charter company Planet 9, said .

Tracking planes isn't just a hobby, it's big business

While Sweeney's hobby of tracking and sharing flights was meddled, it inspired him to turn his hobby into a business.

Sweeney, who is still in college, has done a project called Ground Control, which brings together his own flight tracking projects, and hopes to find entrepreneurial opportunities from them.

Companies that specialize in tracking flights make millions a year.

If I can share a little market, it will be a good income for me.

Why would anyone pay to track a plane specifically?

Because there are many opportunities for gold digging hidden in the flight trajectory of executives .

In April 2019, a consulting firm told clients that an Occidental Petroleum Corp plane had landed at the Omaha airport. There was immediate speculation that Occidental was negotiating financing with Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway.

Two days after the flight information came out, Berkshire Hathaway announced a $10 billion investment in Occidental Petroleum.

This kind of "alternative data" can obtain potential opportunities for enterprises and investment institutions.

Companies like Nasdaq have also started offering tracking data services for private and corporate jets in recent years.

Antoine Arnault, the son of the LV boss, also emphasized in his defense of his father's choice:

Letting competitors know your real-time whereabouts is not a good idea.

It exposes ideas and it reveals clues.

Data is still gold, if you know how to use it.

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