An aviation mystery playing out today is Cuba’s problem to unravel, at least for a little while yet.
The North American Air Defense Command said on its Facebook page that it followed an “unresponsive” business jet until it entered Cuba’s airspace this afternoon.
As of 11:30 a.m. EDT today, September 5th, 2014, two F-15 fighter jets under the direction of North American Aerospace Defense Command launched to investigate an unresponsive aircraft currently flying over the Atlantic Ocean.
The Socata TBM-700 light business and utility aircraft departed Rochester, NY with a flight plan filed to land in Naples, FL, however the plane’s occupants did not respond to attempts to communicate. The aircraft continues to be followed by NORAD jets.
NORAD continues to monitor the situation in close coordination with the FAA. More information will be made available as it emerges.
While the agency says the plane’s destination was Naples, the tracking website, Flight Aware, lists TADPO — an aviation navigation “intersection” near Key West — as its destination.
In either case, the plane missed its destination and never budged from 25,000 feet since a course correction over Tennessee.
At that altitude, a depressurization of the business aircraft would deprive those aboard of oxygen.
The plane is owned Larry Glazer, president of the TBM (the type of plane)Owners and Operators Association. In June, it took part in a demonstration of the plane’s ability to fly great distances.
In a recent profile, Glazer was called “Rochester’s patron saint.”
Update 1:07 pm CT – Plane has left Cuban airspace.
Update 1:28 p.m. CT – The plane has run out of fuel and has likely gone down.
Update 1:43 p.m. CT – The pilot was spotted “unconscious and slumped over” in the cockpit, U.S. officials told NBC News.
Update 1:45 p.m. CT – Plane has crashed in Jamaica.