April 7th, 2009
03:37 PM ET

How dangerous is this?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/US/04/07/stolen.plane.pilot/art.stolen.plane.kfvs.jpg caption="The Cessna 172 aircraft ended up on a road in southern Missouri after a 783-mile journey from Canada."]

David Doss
AC360° Senior Executive Producer

What if…

What if the pilot who allegedly stole a Cessna and flew from Canada into the US had had a dirty bomb—or a biological weapon—or some other kind of weapon…

Or what if—it were a coordinated attack—

What if several young men from different flying schools throughout Canada all entered US airspace at precisely the same time…

Yes—the F-16s and the slower Customs plane did fly-bys to see who was flying—but they did not shoot him down.

And when the pilot was flying at altitudes as low as 3,000 feet—what would the F-16s really do? Shoot him down—could that trigger a bomb or the release of biologicals?

And what about private airfields…where the evidence suggests security can be patchy—how easy would it have been to put a bomb or anything else onto that plane?

Remember, Canadian authorities checked his car with a bomb robot, apparently acknowledging a risk that the pilot could have brought something very dangerous with him.

Listen, I have no idea how these scenarios could play out.

So we're talking to experts who study this stuff and can tell us what to make of it.

And tonight we'll try to measure the real potential of this threat. Please join us on AC360 at 10PM ET. Thank you.

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Anthony

    Hi Anderson:

    This is totally crazy! I lived across on Liberty St/South End Ave when 911 happened, and the media – when plane first hit -was saying that it was not intentional. I myself, said nobody just runs into world trade center without it being intentional. Now, if this army was so reluctant to shoot down hostile intent in its own country to protect its people; then why in the world does the U.S fly to other countries to blow everything up. This shows that we will let people who disregard the international law of our air space etc., that we are just cowards to attack those who do not respect the rules of law. Hey, this would clearly send a strong single to those who think they can just get away with disrepecting the rule of law.

    Look, I would not doubw if this guy who flew the plane from Canada could be clearly a member of some cell testing out to see what they can get away with on just this simple instance. Clearly, he could have been trying to show Al Quada that it is so easy to enter our airspace, and commit another tragedy. I would not doubt if this was just some sort of trial run.

    In fact, 20 minutes to respond from our military. Isn't this slow response to something gone amiss. During the world trade incident what would have happend during this tradgedy if the U.S./army acted faster to pursue planes off there regular path. Perhaps he world trade center would have still been standing.

    I would fullly interrogate this guy who stole the plan. Something is very fishy as to why he would just go to U.S. space. Why did he not stay in Canada space. They should not be so niave to believe this guy had not intent. Maybe his intent was to test U.S. efficiancies on reponse times to such matters.

    Oh well that's it. I think the U.S. should start thinking about protecting its own soverienty, pulll out of all these other countries, and protect our own borders and air space and bring troops home to protect in the U.S.A.

    Thank you,

    April 7, 2009 at 6:49 pm |
  2. MO

    Part of me applauds surfacing these types of gaps, part of me asks "why, why, WHY are you feeding ideas & insights to those who can and will use them against us???".

    April 7, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  3. Marie

    Right after 9/11, we were all concerned about the white "box trucks" hauling "whatever" over the border. Now we're back to being concerned with airplanes. I sure do hope these flight schools do every kind of check (including DNA) before accepting students.

    Jeanette – your idea about having planes waiting at our border is great!

    April 7, 2009 at 5:41 pm |
  4. Marie

    One of my friends flew to Nassau with her husband in their private plane, along with the pilot and co-pilot. Stayed in Nassua for about five days. On the day they were supposed to return home, they arrived at the Nassua airport to get on their plane when their pilot told them that the plane was gone. Stolen. I'm sure that plane was used as a drug runner and then smashed into the mountains somewhere in Columbia.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  5. Lori Morey

    Yes, I'm sure if our military had been quicker those planes would have been shot down on 9/11.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  6. Marie

    This is not good. It will be a herculean effort to keep watch over the massive US/Canadian border. I like what Reggie H. suggested. After three warnings, if the pilot does not make contact/identification with tower, "three strikes, you're out."

    April 7, 2009 at 5:25 pm |
  7. Jeanette

    I thought of the same problems when I first read about this in the papers. We are really lacking in homeland security to let planes fly over our airspace whenever they feel like it. I felt they should have had some immediate answers from the pilot or shot him down.

    Seems to me we should have planes ready and waiting at our borders in case of this happening and take them down immediately.

    April 7, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  8. suze1

    Its utterly and completely frightening. They practically do a DNA check on you at the airport...but they let ENTIRE airplanes into the country unchecked!

    April 7, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  9. tx_realtor

    It is scary to even consider that our skies are not safe after 9/11. What more needs to happen before we see any changes? North Korea may see this as an advantage one day.....(shudders at the thought)

    April 7, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  10. Reggie H.

    Some times you have to make people out of an example to get your point across this is not a game lives or at stake.Just keeping it real.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  11. Sarastro

    That's scary...I started flying at that same flight school. I heard this guy was actually a student there. They should have more psychological screening tests for would-be flight students...AND intense background checks. At the moment, pretty much anybody can sign up for flying lessons.

    As I remember, it's all too easy to gain access to the tarmac from various points at YQT. a few years ago there was an incident at YYZ (Toronto City Centre) where light twin was stolen and ended up in Georgia slated to become a drug runner.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  12. Reggie H.

    We have to say what we mean mean what we say it,s that kind of world today we need to be more stric then ever like the rest of the world.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  13. Reggie H.

    I would have gave 3 worning of identify your self then took them down 3srikes you out.TO closes for comfit.

    April 7, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  14. Annie Kate


    All good questions – and I'm looking forward to the report and hearing how they evaluate these incidents and when would they shoot it down? I've always wondered if on 9/11 if our military had known what was going on quicker than they did if they would have shot down the airplanes that crashed into the pentagon and the world trade center.

    April 7, 2009 at 3:46 pm |