US fighter jets scrambled to intercept stolen plane

US fighter jets scrambled to intercept stolen planefrom reuters: A pilot stole a small airplane in Canada on Monday and headed south, forcing U.S. military officials to scramble F-16 fighter jets to trail him, before landing on a highway in Missouri and fleeing on foot. The pilot was captured and arrested by Missouri State Troopers a short time after landing the Cessna 172, news reports said. Lt. Commander Gary Ross of the North American Aerospace Defense Command said the plane was not believed to be a terrorist threat nor a threat to civilians. Still, the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, was evacuated as a precaution while the plane was in its area.

update: plane joyride into US called suicide attempt
from canadian spectator: A flight student suspected of stealing a plane in Canada and flying erratically across three states in an apparent bid to commit suicide by getting shot down by the U.S. military was described today as a nice kid who didn’t seem unhappy. Adam Leon, 31, was arrested at a convenience store in Ellsinore, Mo., shortly after a pilot landed the single-engine, four-seat Cessna on a rural Missouri road last night following a wild scramble involving U.S. F-16 fighter jets, state police said.

norad: shooting down stolen plane not considered
from ap: The agency charged with defending North American air space never seriously considered shooting down a rogue pilot who flew into U.S. airspace because it quickly determined that he had no hostile intent, a spokesman said Wednesday… Defense officials quickly learned that the pilot was Leon, who was born Yavuz Berke in Turkey before moving to Canada and becoming a naturalized citizen, according to Kucharek. “He didn’t threaten population centers and didn’t appear to be threatening critical infrastructure,” Kucharek said. “And then, you don’t want to provoke someone into doing something they weren’t going to do in the first place by taking some sort of aggressive posture.” Kucharek said the decision to shoot down goes to the president or the secretary of defense. If both are unavailable, a group within NORAD can decide.

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