Stolen Cessna Pursued by Jet Fighters Lands on Highway
A pilot who stole a Cessna plane from a Canadian flight school and was pursued for hours across the Midwest by fighter jets, landed on a Missouri highway late today and took off running, government officials said.
The single engine Cessna 172 landed on U.S. Highway 60 in Missouri at approximately 9:50 p.m. ET.
There were no reports of injuries on the ground.
The plane had been escorted by two F-16 fighter jets since shortly after it crossed into U.S. airspace from Canada, and the pilot did not respond to multiple requests that he establish communications with ground controllers.
A Customs and Border Protection aircraft was also closely monitoring the Cessna.
The plane entered American airspace over Michigan's Upper Peninsula at 3:25 p.m. today and was trailed by the military aircraft since 4:43 p.m. as it flew over Minnesota, south through Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri.
Details are scarce as to the identity of the pilot, but NORAD spokesman Michael Kucharek said the pilot is a student at the flight school and that his motives are unknown.
According to Kucharek, the F-16 pilots had made visual contact with the pilot and knew that the person that flew the aircraft was aware that the F-16s were there. He was "unresponsive to their non-verbal directions and ... not in contact with the FAA controllers," Kucharek said.
FAA officials also said the Cessna's pilot did not respond to repeated efforts to hail him on all radio frequencies.
It was thought the fighter jets might have to shoot down the aircraft if it showed hostile intent, Kucharek told ABC News.
Kind of a stupid thing to do, unless its a practice run for something...