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Unresponsive plane bound for Naples being escorted by fighter jets

Posted at 12:14 PM, Sep 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-05 18:45:38-04

A small aircraft bound for Naples, Fla. crashed into the sea near Jamaica , according to North American Aerospace Defense Command.

NORAD said the pilot took off from Rochester, N.Y. at about 8:45 a.m. destined for Naples. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the pilot stopped responding to radio calls at about 10 a.m. NBC News, citing unnamed sources, said the pilot was seen unconscious and slumped over in the cockpit.

The pilot, and reported passenger who is said to be the pilot's wife, might have lost consciousness due to hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, according to NORAD. Two F-15 fighter jets were escorting the aircraft until they broke off at about 1:30 p.m. after it entered Cuban airspace, NORAD said.

About two hours after take-off, officials at the Rochester airport were contacted by the U.S. Air Force and Transportation Security Administration with inquiries about the aircraft, Monroe County (N.Y.) Executive Maggie Brooks said in a statement.

"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. 

Link: Track the unresponsive aircraft here via FlightAware.com.

The aircraft is a fixed wing single-engine with seven seats used for light business. It 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.

“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.”