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U.S. military officials are warning that a small single engine plane flying near Muncie, Indiana, is operating erratically and that the pilot may be suffering from a lack of oxygen.
A spokesman for U.S. Northern Command said that military officials do not believe it is terrorism related. Instead, Michael Kucharek said the pilot may have blacked due to a condition known as hypoxia.
Kucharek said the pilot took off from a small airport near Grand Rapids, Mich., and was at an altitude of about 23,000 feet and descending slowly. He said the plane was heading south-southeast and has been speeding up and slowing down to dangerous speeds.
U.S. military officials say a small, small single engine plane crashed near Muncie, Indiana, after operating erratically. They said they believe the pilot had been suffering from a lack of oxygen.
The plane crashed in a field on a farm. Officials said the pilot was the only person on the plane. Kucharek said the pilot took off from a small airport near Grand Rapids, Mich., and was at an altitude of about 23,000 feet and descending slowly. He said the plane was heading south-southeast and had been speeding up and slowing down to dangerous speeds. Law enforcement was on the scene.
Two F-16 fighter jets intercepted the plane under the direction of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The F-16 pilots intercepting the aircraft reported the pilot unresponsive, and officials said the incident is not believed to be part of any terrorist activity. "We are not really sure why [the pilot was unresponsive]," a spokeswoman said.
The plane was flying under escort by the fighter jets until it crashed in a field near Munich at 12.40 p.m. EDT.
Controllers in Indianapolis reported the plane had been circling with the pilot slumped over in his seat at around 25,000 feet, said Doug Church, a spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. It wasn't immediately clear if the pilot intentionally flew to that altitude, then passed out, or if the plane ascended after the pilot lost consciousness, he said.