Pilot in Mississippi threatens to strike Walmart store with a 'stolen' aircraft
Sometimes the news can be terrifying. This morning in Mississippi, US, at 5 am local time (11 am UK time), a pilot of a small plane threatened to "intentionally" crash his aircraft into a Walmart store, Sky News reported on Saturday.
The news came from a statement put out by the Tupelo Police Department (TPD) after they were notified of the ongoing incident in an emergency 911 call.
The aircraft is believed to have been stolen, according to sources cited by Sky News, and investigators are working to determine whether the pilot is an employee of a nearby airfield.
A statement that seems too unreal to be true
Police said in the statement: "On 09-03-2022 at approximately 05:00 am, TPD was notified that a pilot of an airplane (possibly King Air type) was flying over Tupelo. The pilot has made contact with E911 and is threatening to intentionally crash into Wal-Mart on West Main."
"TPD has worked with Wal-Mart West and Dodges on West Main to evacuate the stores and disperse people as much as practical. TPD also has been able to begin talking with the pilot directly.”
"At this time the situation is ongoing with TPD and all Emergency Services in our area on alert,” further noted the statement.
"Citizens are asked to avoid that area until an all clear is given. With the mobility of an airplane of that type the danger zone is much larger than even Tupelo."
In the meantime, officers are taking all precautions and have been trying to clear the area of the supposed crash. They are also communicating with the pilot, who thus far has been reported to be flying at a low altitude and circling the Walmart.
New media reports have also surfaced claiming the plane is believed to have also headed toward an area near a Toyota factory in nearby Blue Springs. Meanwhile, flight tracking websites appear to confirm the reports.
Citizens on alert
State governor Tate Reeves took to Twitter to share his views on the incident: "State law enforcement and emergency managers are closely tracking this dangerous situation. All citizens should be on alert and aware of updates from the Tupelo Police Department."
The hijacked aircraft is believed to be a King Air propeller type.
The incident raises questions about airplane security and who should be allowed to fly. Questions about how such a dangerous individual managed to get behind an airplane in the first place have surfaced.
Should airplane access be more moderated, such as gun access? Should pilots pass mental health tests and be required to prove their sanity? What can be done to prevent such incidents from being repeated in the future?
The answers are not clear, however it could mean that vetting future pilots may require more thought and oversight. In April of 2022, another pilot jumped out of his plane and purposely crashed it for a YouTube stunt. The pilot was not harmed, but he did lose his license.