Thursday, April 19, 2012
Where were those fighter jets on 9/11?
The U.S. Coast Guard and Air Force jets are monitoring a small plane with an unresponsive pilot over the Gulf of Mexico, the services reported Thursday.
A Federal Aviation Administration source told CNN the twin-engine Cessna 421 has been circling at 28,000 feet, roughly 150 miles south of Crestview, Florida. The plane took off from Slidell, Louisiana, en route to Sarasota, Florida, with a single pilot on board, the source said.
If fully fueled, the plane would be likely to run out of fuel by 12:30 p.m., the source said.
Mike Maddox, a manager at the Slidell airfield where the plane took off, confirmed there was a situation with a plane and said family members had been notified, but had no further comment.
The Air Force noticed the plane flying erratically over the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday morning and dispatched planes to check it out, said Chief Petty Officer John Edwards, a Coast Guard spokesman. They found the Cessna's windows were either iced or fogged over, and the pilot was not responding to radio calls, Edwards said.
Fighter jets from the North American Aerospace Defense Command intercepted the aircraft Thursday morning and are watching the plane from the air, NORAD spokeswoman Stacey Knott said.
The Coast Guard warned ships in the area to keep a lookout for the plane. Edwards said a Coast Guard plane from Mobile, Alabama, was dispatched to assist with a possible rescue, and the Florida-based cutter Coho is en route to the area. A helicopter in Clearwater, Florida, was also standing by to assist, he said.