Monday, April 6, 2009

NORAD scrambles F-16 to find stolen plane

Editors note: It's good to see NORAD is on its toes in this day and age of new terrorism. Although the stolen aircraft was not a large aircraft or a civilian airliner, a small aircraft could be used to bring deadly toxins and or a dirty bomb into the U.S.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The pilot of a small Cessna 172 aircraft reported stolen from a Canadian flight school landed near a Missouri highway late Monday and took off on foot, federal officials confirmed.
A small Cessna aircraft was stolen from a flight school in Thunder Bay, Canada.

The plane, intercepted and tracked by U.S. military aircraft as it flew across the Midwest, landed on a dirt road off Highway 60, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman said. The pilot then fled on foot.

The plane landed in the town of Ellsinore, population 360, in southern Missouri, a dispatcher with the Carter County Sheriff's Office said.

A spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said that about 9:20 p.m. ET, the Cessna was flying over southern Missouri, some 20 miles from the Arkansas border, "holding steady" at 3,000 feet -- down from the earlier altitude of 14,000 feet.

The NORAD spokesman, Mike Kucharek, said military pilots who intercepted the Cessna had tried repeatedly to get the pilot's attention and at one point, the pilot appeared to acknowledge that he saw the other aircraft.

"He looked at them," Kucharek said.


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