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Page last updated at 16:07 GMT, Tuesday, 7 April 2009 17:07 UK

Stolen plane lands on US highway

Cessna 172
Cessna 172s are used in flying schools in many countries

A small plane reported stolen from an airport in Canada has been intercepted by US fighter jets and forced to land in the US state of Missouri.

Pentagon officials said the pilot had flown erratically and did not respond to requests to establish contact.

The pursuit continued across Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois before the plane landed on a highway near Ellsinore.

A state trooper who helped arrest the man said he had wanted to kill himself by being shot down.

A spokeswoman from the US Federal Aviation Administration said the Cessna 172 came from a flight school at Thunder Bay Airport, Ontario, from where it was reported stolen.

Map

The head of the school, Judi Maundrell, said someone apparently "jumped over the fence and just jumped into an aircraft".

"It was sitting as usual parked on the ramp. The keys are in all the aircraft because students are using them," she said.

The single-engine aircraft was intercepted by fighter jets, but kept heading south.

It landed about six hours after the reported theft, according to officials.

The Missouri state trooper who made the arrest said the pilot told him he had hoped to be shot down.

"He made a statement that he was trying to commit suicide and he didn't have the courage to do it himself," Justin Watson told ABC television.

"And his idea was to fly the aircraft into the United States, where he would be shot down."



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