Police captured the pilot of a stolen Canadian plane late Monday night, ending a bizarre pursuit that began in Thunder Bay, Ont., and ended in a small Missouri town.
The pilot took a single-engine Cessna 172 from a Thunder Bay aviation school and soon crossed into U.S. airspace. Authorities scrambled two F-16 fighter jets to track the aircraft as it made its way over Wisconsin and Illinois.
Nearly eight hours later, at about 10 p.m. ET, the pilot landed on a dirt road in the southern Missouri town of Ellsinore and fled on foot.
Officials with the Federal Bureau of Investigation then arrested 31-year-old suspect Yavuz Burke, a native of Turkey who became a Canadian citizen last year. He was formerly known as Adam Leon.
Earlier, the North American Aerospace Defense Command had scrambled two F-16 fighter jets to track the plane.
Lt.-Cmdr. Gary Ross, a spokesperson for NORAD, said the pilot did not respond to radio calls from the jets or the FAA.
He also said the pilot refused to acknowledge the nonverbal communications from the F-16 jets to follow them. It appears the plane only landed as it came close to running out of fuel.
The plane was reported stolen at about 2:30 p.m. ET and was spotted flying erratically.
At about 5 p.m., the state capital building in Madison, Wis., was evacuated before the plane passed near the region. Police cars cordoned off the streets around the building and officers told people to move away from the area.
The small plane belongs to Confederation College’s aviation program and was taken off from the Thunder Bay International Airport.
According to local radio, someone jumped the fence and took off on an unauthorized flight.
City police are at the scene at the college’s hangar. Police spokesperson Chris Adams says officers have little to go on at the time.
According to Cessna’s website, the Cessna 172 Skyhawk is world’s most flown airplane. It has a maximum cruise speed of 233 kilometres an hour and a range of 1,130 km.