North Korean leader Kim Jong Un landed in Singapore on Sunday ahead of a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump that could end a nuclear stand-off between the old foes and transform the secretive, impoverished Asian country.
North Korea’s capacity for distraction and sleight of hand was on show as two decoy flights also made their way to Singapore from North Korea.
In all, three aircraft – including the North Korean leader’s private plane – made their way to Singapore from Pyongyang airport, a facility that frequently sees fewer than three international flights a day.
One of them was the ageing Soviet-made Ilyushin-62 that is Kim’s personal jet – officially known as ‘Chammae-1’, or Goshawk-1, after the North’s national bird but perhaps more memorably dubbed ‘Air Force Un’.
But while Singapore is well within its range, questions have been raised about its reliability and Kim, it turned out, was not on board.
Instead he flew on an Air China Boeing 747. According to flight tracking website Flightradar24, it took off using flight number CA122, a standard designation for the airline’s route from Pyongyang to Beijing.
In midair, it changed its callsign to CA061 and headed south, landing in Singapore at 2.36pm local time.