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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Plane, with a possibly unconscious pilot, heads toward Peninsula

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Graphic: NBC5 Fort Worth

A small plane flying south from Oklahoma to Texas has overshot its mark and was last seen heading to the Yucatán Peninsula.

The pilot stopped responding to air traffic controllers and disappeared over the Gulf of Mexico. He may have been suffering from hypoxia, a condition in which the brain is deprived of oxygen.

The condition can cause confusion, nausea, breathlessness and hallucinations.

A spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said two F-16 fighters were launched from Houston to make contact with the plane Wednesday.

Fighters flew in front of the plane, dropped flares and performed other military maneuvers to gain the pilot’s attention, but the pilot appeared to be unresponsive.

The F-16s became low on fuel and were replaced by two F-15 fighters from New Orleans. The F-15s stayed with the plane for a time but later returned to base because of darkness and their proximity to Mexican air space.

“We didn’t deem the plane to be a threat and that’s normally what we’re looking for,” said Michael Kucharek, a NORAD spokesman.

The pilot was the only person on board the plane, NORAD said. His name was nod disclosed.

The plane is registered to Oklahoma-based Abide Aviation.

Preston said Coast Guard aircraft were searching a broad area Thursday off the Yucatán Peninsula.

Source: NBC5 Fort Worth, Associated Press

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