A small aircraft bound for Naples has gone unresponsive over the Caribbean Sea, according to North American Aerospace Defense Command.
NORAD said the pilot took off from Rochester, N.Y. this morning destined for Naples. The pilot might have lost consciousness due to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation. Two F-15 fighter jets were escorting the aircraft until they broke off at about 1:30 p.m. after it entered Cuban airspace, according to NORAD.
"NORAD continues to monitor the situation in close coordination with the FAA," it said in a press release. "More information will be made available as it emerges."
According to FlightAware.com, an aircraft traveling from Rochester to Naples had veered dramatically off course, turning southeast as it traveled over western North Carolina.
NORAD confirmed on Twitter that the aircraft being escorted matches the aircraft information described on FlightAware.
The aircraft is a fixed wing single-engine with seven seats used for light business. It took off just before 8:30 a.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Naples shortly before noon.
The aircraft's owner is listed as New 51LG Inc., a Rochester-based company. New 51LG Inc. shares an address with Buckingham Properties in New York. A woman answering the phone there had no comment.
Naples airport officials say they have little information about the plane or its occupants.
“We didn’t recognize either the tail number or the name of the company the aircraft is registered to,” said Sheila Dugan, the Naples Municipal Airport's deputy executive director. “If the aircraft had left from our airport, there would probably be more contact with the FAA because they would want more information about the plane. Unless it was an aircraft that was based here, we wouldn’t know anything about it.”
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