Plane threatens to crash into land in Mississippi



Authorities say a plane that was flying over northern Mississippi and whose pilot had threatened to crash it into the ground landed safely on Saturday.

Governor Tate Reeves announced on Twitter that « the situation has been resolved and no one has been injured ». He thanked law enforcement who helped bring the plane down. The plane began flying over Tupelo, Mississippi, around 5 a.m. and stayed in the air for more than five hours.

Benton County Sheriff’s Dispatcher Connie Strickland said the plane had landed and the subject was in the custody of law enforcement.

Earlier, the Tupelo Police Department said in a Facebook post that the plane began circling over Tupelo, Mississippi around 5 a.m. It was still in the air more than five hours later, but had moved away from Tupelo and was circling over another nearby community.

Authorities believe the plane – a Beechcraft King Air C90A – was stolen and are working to determine if the pilot who threatened to crash the plane is an employee of a local airport, the agency said. ‘Associated Press informed two people about it. Several federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, have been involved in the investigation and are working to discern a motive.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said the agency is aware of the theft and is coordinating with local law enforcement.

Law enforcement told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal shortly after 8 a.m. the plane left the airspace around Tupelo and was flying near a Toyota manufacturing plant in nearby Blue Springs.

An online flight tracking service showed the plane snaking through the sky for several hours and following a looping path.

Leslie Criss, a magazine editor who lives in Tupelo, woke up early and watched the situation on TV and social media. Several of his friends were outside watching the plane circle overhead.

« I’ve never seen anything like it in this town, » Criss told The Associated Press. « It’s a scary way to wake up on a Saturday morning. »

Former state representative Steve Holland, a funeral director in Tupelo, said he received calls from families concerned about the plane.

« One of them called and said, ‘Oh my God, do we have to cancel my mom’s funeral? ‘ » Holland said. « I just told them, ‘No, life will go on.’


Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in New York contributed to this report.


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