RAF plane carrying Queen Elizabeth’s coffin sets all-time flight tracking record

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(CNN) — The plane carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II has broken records to become the most tracked flight in history.

According to aviation tracking website Flightradar24, around five million people were still online as the late Queen flew from Edinburgh to London on September 13.

That number is derived from two sources: 4.79 million people who followed the flight’s journey on Flightradar24’s website and mobile app, plus an additional 296,000 who tracked the plane on YouTube.

That breaks the previous record, achieved last month during US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan. Her plane’s journey to Taipei was tracked by around 2.9 million people.

The Royal Air Force plane carrying the Queen spent an hour and 12 minutes in flight. He landed at RAF Northolt, a military station about six miles from Heathrow Airport in Greater London.

From Northolt, the Queen’s coffin was taken to Buckingham Palace. On Wednesday, September 14, the coffin will be escorted to Westminster Hall, Parliament, where the Queen will rest until her funeral on Monday, September 19, at Westminster Abbey.
Nancy Pelosi will not attend, although President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will.
The RAF Globemaster C-17 aircraft carried Her Majesty's coffin.

The RAF Globemaster C-17 aircraft carried Her Majesty’s coffin.

Andrew Matthews/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Flightradar24 is one of several increasingly popular aircraft tracking tools. The site started in Sweden in 2006 and became accessible to the public three years later.

Its first significant moment of widespread attention came in 2010, when the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull grounded and diverted thousands of flights across Europe and North America.

Ian Petchenik, the website’s director of communications, told CNN Travel that the resulting increase in traffic “was definitely our first foray into international events, and how showing air traffic to the public in real time could influence how people think about world news.

Before Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, the most popular flight search on Flightradar24 was opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s flight back to Russia, where he would be imprisoned upon arrival in 2021.

The Flightradar24 staff knew that the Queen’s latest air ride had the potential to become wildly popular. His team tried to bring as much stability to the website as possible, but the massive influx of new users proved to be a technical challenge.

“This massive and immediate increase was beyond anything we had anticipated,” Petchenik wrote in a blog post. It added: “In total, we processed 76.2 million requests related to this flight alone, that is, any action by a user, such as clicking on the flight icon, clicking on the aircraft information in the box on the side left or adjust settings”.

He predicts that this particular flight search record will remain intact “for a long time.”

During her seven-decade reign, Queen Elizabeth traveled the world, making royal visits to places as far flung as Bermuda, Nepal, Ghana, Mexico, Pakistan, Australia and Russia.
One of her last high-profile appearances was in May this year, when she attended the opening of the Elizabeth Line, a new London Underground line named after her.

Top Image: The Queen’s coffin is received by pallbearers at RAF Northolt. Credit: Andrew Matthews/AP/Getty

CNN’s Jacopo Prisco contributed reporting.

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