U.S./Canadian Security Measures Prove Effective
April 7, 2009 — U.S. and Canadian security measures were put to the test Monday when they safely and successfully brought a conclusion to a rare incident involving a stolen aircraft from a Canadian flight school.
The bi-national North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) intercepted a stolen Cessna 172 crossing the Canada-U.S. border April 6, and escorted the aircraft until it landed on a dirt road about six hours later in Missouri.
According to NORAD, the Skyhawk departed Thunder Bay, Ontario, without Navigation Canada authority and was reported as stolen. It entered U.S. airspace from the north and was headed south over Lake Superior. Reports indicate the pilot acknowledged the F-16 fighters—initially scrambled from the Minnesota Air National Guard, then replaced by fighters from the Wisconsin Air National Guard, and finally fighters from the Louisiana Air National Guard—but was unresponsive to specific non-verbal commands.
The intent of such military intercepts is to have the aircraft re-establish communications with local FAA air traffic controllers and instruct the pilot to follow those controllers to land safely for further follow-on action. It was ultimately determined that the student pilot did not show hostile intent, precluding the use of lethal force in this situation.
EAA applauds the effective action taken by authorities in this situation. It highlighted the effective, layered measures already in place to maintain national security, even in extremely rare instances such as the theft of a general aviation aircraft.