Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Fla. Teen Tracking Elon Musk's Jet on Twitter Is Now Tailing Russian Oligarchs

The Twitter bots have more than 400,000 followers, monitoring aircrafts belonging to Russian wealthy figures

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The 19-year-old Florida college student who tracks Elon Musk’s private jet on Twitter is now keeping tabs on the private planes of several Russian oligarchs and elites.

Jack Sweeney recently launched two new Twitter accounts – @RUOligarchJets and @PutinJet – following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The two profiles have amassed more than 400,000 followers since launching last week and provides status updates on various aircrafts belonging to Russian billionaires like Chelsea F.C. owner Roman Abramovich, steel magnate Alexander Abramov and Russia's wealthiest person, businessman Vladimir Potanin.

The University of Central Florida student said he started the accounts after receiving inquiries on whether he could track President Vladimir Putin, NBC News reported. Since tracking an isolated president who doesn't travel much might prove to be tedious, according to NBC News, Sweeney decided to follow the next best thing: Russian elites.

“The aircrafts these oligarchs have are absolutely crazy,” Sweeney told Bloomberg News. He said Russia’s wealthy travel in commercial-size planes like the Airbus A319 and Boeing 737.

The tracking is done through ADS-B Exchange, a public website providing users nearly real-time flight data. Sweeney developed a bot that monitors the flights and feeds out to the correlating Twitter accounts when one of the planes land or takes off, as well as location and flight duration.

Sweeney told NBC News that the popularity of his accounts surprised him.

“It’s just been crazy,” Swneey said. "I just figured some people would be interested in it. I just didn't think all kinds of people would be."

The tech-savvy student rejected a $5,000 offer from Musk to shut down @ElonJet, an account tracking the Tesla and SpaceX CEO’s private jets. Sweeney countered asking for $50,000, and said he could use the money to buy a Tesla Model 3. Musk eventually blocked him.

In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden said the decision to close U.S. airspace to Russian aircraft was aimed at further isolating Russia and damaging its economy.
Contact Us