Charleston, South Carolina is typically a quiet and hospitable town where locals and tourists enjoy great weather, the beach and amazing restaurants. On Friday, November 23, 2012 fighter jets intercepted a private plane that veered off its flight plan. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) dispatched two F-16 fighter jets Friday morning and escorted a four-seat Cessna 337 to the Charleston Executive Airport. NORAD’s mission is to prevent air attacks against the United States and Canada.
Upon his arrival into Charleston, the pilot was directed to contact the Federal Aviation Administration for follow-up. A press release from NORAD explained that a discrepancy in the plane’s flight plan and actual track raised suspicions.
Charleston is home to a Naval Weapons Station, whose mission is to enable war-fighter readiness, and an Air Force Base which houses approximately 56 C-17 cargo planes. The base is also an alert site for aircraft from the Aerospace Defense Command (ADC), Tactical Air Command (TAC) and Air Combat Command (ACC) which conduct continental air defense missions.
So where was the Cessna headed? The FAA and NORAD have not yet released that information – and no one I talked to in the area could tell me when we might get an update. I suspect we will never know the full story behind this one.