Queen Elizabeth’s last voyage is Flightradar24’s most tracked aircraft ever

(CNN) – The plane carrying Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin has broken records for the longest flight ever.

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

That number comes from two sources: the 4.79 million people who tracked 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, set last month by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan. His plane’s journey to Taipei was followed by about 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 six miles from Greater London Heathrow Airport.

From Northolt, the Queen’s coffin was taken to Buckingham Palace. On Wednesday, September 14, the coffin will be moved to Westminster Hall, Parliament, where the Queen will lie in state for her funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday, September 19.
Nancy Pelosi won’t be going, even if President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are going.

RAF C-17 globemaster aircraft transported Her Majesty’s coffin.

Andrew Matthews/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Flightradar24 is one of the increasingly popular aircraft tracking tools. The site started in Sweden in 2006 and became publicly available three years later.

Its first significant moment in the mainstream was in 2010, when the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano diverted thousands of flights in Europe and North America.

Ian Petchenik, the website’s director of communications, told CNN Travel that the resulting spike in traffic “was definitely our first foray into international events, and how displaying air traffic in real time to the public can affect the way people think about world news.”

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

The staff at Flightradar24 knew that the Queen’s latest air journey had the potential to be hugely popular. Their team tried to make the site as stable as possible, but the influx of new users was a technical challenge.

“This massive immediate spike was beyond what we had anticipated,” Petchenik wrote in a blog post. He added: “In total we processed 76.2 million requests related to this flight alone – that’s any action taken by a user, such as clicking on the flight icon, clicking on the aircraft information in the left box or adjusting settings.”

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

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

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

CNN’s Jacopo Prisco contributed reporting.