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Stolen plane leads bizarre chase

U.S. F-16 jets follow man who hopped into plane in Thunder Bay and took off to Missouri.

A man flying a Cessna stolen from a Thunder Bay airfield led authorities and U.S. fighter jets on a bizarre chase through three states that ended with his capture in Missouri.

The FBI identified the pilot as Yavuz Berke, formerly known as Adam Dylan Leon, a 31-year-old naturalized Canadian citizen who was born in Turkey.

Missouri Highway Patrol Sgt. Marty Elmore says authorities took Berke into custody near Ellsinore in the southeastern part of the state.

Military officials say the four-seat Cessna 172 Skyhawk was stolen from Confederation College Aviation Centre of Excellence at Thunder Bay International Airport at about 3 p.m. yesterday.

Two F-16 fighters intercepted the plane, which flew erratically through three U.S. states and prompted the evacuation of the Wisconsin capitol.

The pilot did not respond to radio calls or other signals before landing on a road in Missouri and fleeing.

CNN reported the pilot fled on foot after spending more than seven hours in the air.

The incident caused the Wisconsin Capitol building in Madison to be evacuated temporarily, as a precaution.

Mike Kucharek, spokesperson for the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) in Colorado, said that by 7:15 p.m., the Cessna had flown south over Illinois and was approaching the St. Louis area with the pilot still refusing to communicate with any authorities.

"We don't know what the motive is. I wouldn't want to speculate on that. We are treating this with the most utmost seriousness," said Kucharek.

The pilot had acknowledged seeing the F-16s but he had not obeyed their non-verbal commands to follow them, Kucharek said.

Judi Maundrell, the college's vice-president of academics and student services, told tbnewswatch.com a man jumped a fence at the airfield, then climbed into the aircraft, which had its keys in it. He taxied down the runway and took off before anyone could stop him.

The plane had enough fuel to fly for nearly eight hours.

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Added: Apr-7-2009 
By: CrzyCanuk
In:
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Tags: stolen, plane, Canada, Missouri, F-16, scrambled
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