Since 9/11, the Civil Air Patrol‘s Wisconsin Wing pilots and crews have served as “low-and-slow” intercept targets for Wisconsin Air National Guard fighter pilots. The training missions allow air controllers and ANG pilots to practice locating and intercepting low-and-slow flying aircraft that might be terrorist threats.
On April 6, that training was put to use.
A man bent on suicide stole a Cessna from a flight school in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, and flew south into U.S. airspace. Wisconsin ANG F-16s were scrambled to intercept. The Cessna pilot acknowledged seeing the F-16s but didn’t obey their pilots’ nonverbal commands to follow them, according to a U.S. Air Force spokesman.
After an erratic six-hour flight over three states, the rogue pilot landed on a remote road in Missouri and hitched a ride to a convenience store, where he was promptly arrested by Missouri state troopers. In statements to authorities, the Canadian pilot said he was hoping to be shot down by the military, but could not go through with the attempted suicide.
“We participate with the Wisconsin ANG intercept training missions to help train for these types of situations,” said Wisconsin Wing Commander Col. Donald Haffner. “We take pride in the fact that our CAP flight crews have helped Wisconsin ANG pilots hone their skills in protecting our homeland.”