A teenager, who tracks Elon Musk’s plane, keeping an eye on Russia’s Putin

Jack Sweeney rose to prominence after his unique pastime of tracking Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s private jet became well-known. He’s developed a new interest. Sweeney has started revealing the movements of planes affiliated with Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The 19-year-old Florida teen is tweeting the real-time position of Russian oligarchs’ flights, as well as planes affiliated with Putin. He has created two new Twitter bot accounts, @RUOligarchJets and @Putinjet, via which he constantly updates users on the location of Russian billionaires’ and President Vladimir Putin’s private planes.Sweeney is enthusiastically servicing his followers, who just requested him to track Putin at a time when activities relating to Russia should be kept under wraps so as not to attract unnecessary attention.

He said he had demands to track Putin even before the war began, but the number of requests from his online followers skyrocketed once Russia began fighting Ukraine. In an interview, he quoted his fans as saying, “Oh, you should track Putin.” The demands now include a request for him to track the movements of Russian oligarchs and elites’ private planes.

Sweeney’s new Twitter bots employ the same technology as the one used to track the jet he says belongs to Elon Musk. Musk contacted Sweeney over Twitter and requested that he stop tracking his plane’s movements using the well-known Twitter bot account, @ElonJet. Sweeney’s plane-tracking bots use publicly available data from plane transponders, which maintain track of a plane’s longitude, latitude, and altitude, to compute its whereabouts using an algorithm he devised in 2020.

The new Twitter bots focusing on Russia’s president and elites have already amassed over 200,000 followers in a short period of time.

One of his bots is tracking tycoon Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club, Leonid Mikhelson, CEO of Russia’s largest private natural gas business, Novatek, and Alisher Usmanov, dubbed Russia’s richest man.

Sweeney has invited enthusiasts from all over the world to assist him by following data from plane responders using the registered tail numbers he has provided on his Twitter account for tracking Russian oligarch’s jets. While Sweeney has no interest in profiting from the accounts that track Russian President Vladimir Putin and oligarchs, he did say in the interview that he would only quit following Elon Musk if he sent him a new Tesla Model 3.