Published: Sat, January 06, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

Plane, pilot missing in Gulf of Mexico

Plane, pilot missing in Gulf of Mexico

The U.S. Coast Guard searched the Gulf of Mexico Thursday for a small plane that didn't land at its scheduled location in Central Texas and stopped responding to air traffic controllers. The Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in New Orleans sent a plane into the Gulf to try and make contact with the pilot where they observed him slouched over in the cockpit. NORAD helped in the search, sending four F-16 fighter jets to search. Ethan Narber, a pilot and aviation enthusiast, posted on Twitter that fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the plane and noted that the pilot was upright in his seat but unresponsive.

The F-16s became low on fuel and were replaced by two F-15 fighters from New Orleans.

'We didn't deem the plane to be a threat and that's normally what we're looking for, ' Kucharek said. The pilot may have suffered from unconsciousness due to lack of oxygen at high altitude, the Coast Guard reported. The condition can cause confusion, nausea, breathlessness and hallucinations.

According to FAA regulations, a civil aircraft pilot flying solo must use supplemental oxygen if flying for longer than 30 minutes above 12,500 feet (3,800 meters), and for an entire flight if flying above 14,000 feet (4,300 meters). Reports suggested that the pilot had recently been running a transport for a charity that works with animals.

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The Georgetown Municipal Airport manager told KVUE they never had contact with the pilot, saying they usually don't hear from a pilot until they're ready to land at the facility.

Kinsinger, a medical director of obstetric anaesthesia, was remembered by several animal rescue group posts on social media as a beloved Pilots N Paws pilot who has helped save many animals in need.

Authorities have not released the pilot's name. The aircraft, N325JK, was registered to Abide Aviation LLC of Edmund, Oklahoma.

The Coast Guard is searching off the Southeast Texas coast 135 miles north of the Yucatan Peninsula.

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