The Most-Tracked Flights of 2017

As we close out the year, we look back on some of the most tracked flights of the year, which included wildfires, the Pope, and a giant airplane drawn in the sky.

The Supertanker

The Global SuperTanker 747

In January, the Global Supertanker 747, the largest fire fighting aircraft in the world, was activated to fight wildfires in Chile. Its first fire fighting mission in Chile was viewed over 500,000 times.

The Supertanker has also been active this year fighting fires in California.

How to track: use registration N744ST


The Pope takes flight

The Pope flies from Rome to Bogota, Colombia

Whenever the Pope flies, people flock to Flightradar24 to follow his travels. The Pope’s most followed flight this year was actually our second most followed flight overall this year, as he traveled from Rome to Colombia. The flight to Bogota was followed nearly 1.5 million times.


From Nairobi to London

Priti Patel’s flight from Nairobi to London

The most unexpectedly popular flight this year was Kenya Airways flight KQ100 from Nairobi to London on 8 November. On board was Priti Patel, then UK Secretary of State for International Development. The flight was viewed 250,000 times as she was summoned back to the UK to tender her resignation.


The Airbus A38Tree

On 13 December, Airbus added a bit of Christmas cheer to a standard A380 pre-delivery test flight. The flight test crew spent over 5 hours drawing a giant Christmas tree above Germany.

While Airbus’ tree may be the largest, it’s certainly not the first. See other Christmas trees drawn by airplanes.


Boeing uses a 787 to draw a 787

Finally, our most tracked flight of 2017, which was viewed nearly 2 million times, belongs to the Boeing 787 that traced itself over the United States in August. The flight was conducted as part of ETOPS testing for the new Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 TEN, which is set to the power the new 787-10. Instead of flying around in circles for 18 hours, Boeing and Rolls Royce decided to get a little creative.

Read more about the flight, ETOPS, and download images and data here


Honorable mention

The MAX drawn by 737 MAX N8704Q

While it wasn’t tracked by as many people, the MAX deserves a mention. As part of the 737 MAX certification process, Boeing conducted a test flight that drew ‘MAX’ in 277 km tall letters across the northwestern United States. The aircraft that drew the ‘MAX’ was recently delivered to customer Southwest Airlines.

See more from MAX flight