Unresponsive plane trailed by military crashes off Jamaica, officials report

Posted at 2:04 PM, Sep 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-05 15:05:49-04

The small unresponsive plane that flew south over the United States into the Caribbean Sea has crashed off the coast of Jamaica, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

F-15 pilots tracking the unresponsive plane could see, before the small plane’s windows frosted, a pilot slumped over, a NORAD official said. The official said one or two other people are believed to be on board, though the number has not been confirmed.

The pilot of the unresponsive plane stopped responding to radio calls at about 10 a.m. ET, the FAA said.

A Cuban fighter jet trailed the small aircraft that was unresponsive over the Atlantic Ocean and flying south of Cuba, NORAD said.

Unresponsive Plane Map

U.S. authorities did not believe the plane poses a security threat and that the pilot and occupants may be incapacitated.

The two pilots aboard the unresponsive plane appeared to be unconscious.

The U.S. military launched a pair of jet fighters to trail the aircraft, but the U.S. planes broke off before reaching Cuban airspace 12 miles off the island’s coast, NORAD said. The plane was cruising about 25,000 feet.

Ted Soliday, executive director of the Naples, Florida, airport where the plane was originally headed, told CNN that he did not know how many people were on board the six-seat aircraft. It was believed the plane was running out of fuel.

“Once it gets up that high, it can cruise at good speed with low fuel use,” he said.

Two F-15s had been flying with the plane east of Florida. The windows, according to a NORAD spokesman, were frosted and it was unknown how much fuel was left.

“We do not know the people or what their condition is,” Soliday said. “They been flying for almost five hours. That’s a long time for that aircraft.”

NORAD was in touch with Cuban authorities via the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. military jets will not enter Cuban airspace, a NORAD spokesman said.

The Socata TBM-700 light business and utility aircraft departed from Rochester, New York, with a flight plan to land in Naples, NORAD said. But the plane’s occupants did not respond to communication attempts.

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