A dog-rescue group says the missing pilot last spotted north of Cancun was flying to central Texas to collect a disabled dog for a foster home in Oklahoma.
The pilot of the Cirrus SR-22, identified as Dr. Bill Kinsinger, veered well off course and into Mexican territory. The plane was last seen over the Gulf of Mexico, headed toward the Yucatán Peninsula.
Kinsinger took off from Wiley Post Airport in Oklahoma City Wednesday afternoon after filing a flight plan to land in Georgetown, Texas, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of Austin, the Associated Press reports.
U.S. Coast Guard aircraft are searching for the plane in a broad area off the Yucatan Peninsula.
After Kinsinger, an anesthesiologist, stopped responding to air traffic controllers, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, launched two F-16 fighters from a base in Houston and made contact with the plane.
The plane was last observed on radar 219 miles (352 kilometers) northwest of Cancun, flying at 15,000 feet (4,600 meters), said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford.
The F-16s became low on fuel and were replaced by two F-15 fighters from New Orleans, which stayed with the plane until darkness and their proximity to Mexican air space forced them home. The plane wasn’t deemed a public threat, said a NORAD spokesman.
A NORAD report said Kinsinger appeared to be suffering from hypoxia, in which the brain is deprived of adequate oxygen. The condition can cause confusion, nausea, breathlessness and hallucinations. If left untreated, it can be fatal.
Source: Associated Press