A Cessna 172 was reported stolen from a flight school in Thunder Bay, Canada, on the afternoon of April 6. It entered U.S. airspace and quickly was intercepted by two F-16s and a Customs & Border Protection CitationJet somewhere over Lake Superior. They decided it was not an immediate threat and escorted it, constantly trying to establish voice communication, until it landed near Elsinore, Missouri, an FAA spokesman told General Aviation News.
The theft was reported at 2.55 p.m. Ontario time after it took off from Confederation College at Thunder Bay International Airport, according to Laura Craig, spokeswoman for the airport. “Confederation College officials reported the theft immediately and requested the assistance of Thunder Bay Police,” her statement read. “The aircraft was tracked by radar and crossed into U.S. airspace.” Craig added that the college is working with Thunder Bay police to recover the airplane and identify the person who flew it. Multiple agencies in the United States followed the situation closely, including the FAA, NORAD and the U.S. Air Force. Only one person was believed to be on board.
The airplane landed on Highway 60 near Ellsinore, Missouri, at around 9:50 p.m. The pilot fled the scene and emergency services are looking for him or her, according to an Associated Press report.
At one point, authorities intended to force the Cessna to land at Central Wisconsin Airport in Mosinee. Emergency vehicles were dispatched to the airport and the Wisconsin Capitol was evacuated, according to the Associated Press, out of precaution.
NORAD said the incident is not believed to be terrorism related.