Teenager Explains Why He’s Tracking Elon Musk’s Jet

by Josh Lanier
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The 19-year-old who publishes the flight logs of Elon Musk’s private jet said he’d consider stopping for $50,000 or a new Telsa. Musk offered $5,000 to have the Twitter account killed because he says it’s a security risk.

Jack Sweeney, a University of Central Florida freshman, started tracking Elon Musk’s private plane as a high school student. He created a bot that scours publicly available air traffic information and publishes the flight records to the Twitter account @ElonJet.

“I just started it as a hobby, and I don’t want to let go of a hobby for something that’s not really going to change my life,” Sweeney told CNN this weekend.

The account had been up for months when Musk found it. It had very few followers at the time, but Musk said it posed a safety concern. “I don’t love the idea of being shot by a nutcase,” Musk wrote in a direct message to Sweeney last month. The Tesla CEO offered him $5,000 to kill the project. Sweeney asked for $50,000. He also said he would consider taking it down for a new Tesla or an internship at SpaceX. Musk eventually told him it didn’t feel right to pay to shut down the account.

The account went viral after Sweeney published their DMs. It now has more than 380,000 followers. Sweeney seized on that newfound popularity by selling T-shirts that feature the image of Elon Musk infamously smoking marijuana on Joe Rogan’s podcast with the slogan “I know how high Elon is.”

Teen Addresses Elon Musk’s Safety Concerns

Jack Sweeney told CNN’s Michael Smerconish that he can understand Musk’s concerns about his safety. But he thinks the billionaire could be using that as a smokescreen.

“There is some merit to [Musk’s claim], but I don’t know if he’s being completely truthful that it’s all security,” he said. “Maybe he just doesn’t want to be seen.”

Sweeney pointed out that he can only track Elon Musk’s jet, but he has no information about who’s on it.

Musk took steps to make it harder to know his jet’s whereabouts after Sweeney rebuffed him, but the teen said he is still able to track it. He defended the account, saying that anyone can do it if they know where to look. He’s just making it easier.

“This account has every right to post jet whereabouts,” he said last month, responding to critics. “ADS-B data is public, every aircraft in the world is required to have a transponder, even [Air Force One].”

Sweeney also created bots to track jets belonging to Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, former President Donald Trump, and many others. He said Musk is the only person to reach out and ask him to stop. Sweeney is studying IT at the University of Central Florida and hopes to create aviation software someday. He already has a job offer from a private jet chartering firm, but he’s still considering it.

Outsider.com