When a Canadian Cessna got stolen, it set off a chain of events that looked as though it would result in the first shootdown of a passenger plane over the United States. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, but the mystery continues. What did a depressed naturalized Canadian intend to do with the plane?
A pilot who allegedly stole a Cessna plane from a Canadian flight school and was pursued for hours across the Midwest by fighter jets, was taken into custody after he landed on a Missouri highway late today and took off running, an FBI spokesman said.
The pilot landed the single engine Cessna 172 on U.S. Highway 60 in Ellsinore, Mo., at approximately 9:50 p.m. ET, and was caught by Missouri State Highway Patrol officers, FBI spokesman Rich Kolko said.
The pilot was identified as Yavuz Berke, formerly known as Adam Leon, a 31-year-old naturalized Canadian citizen who was born in Turkey, Kolko said.
Did Berke intend to commit suicide? He has been treated for depression, and left a “good-bye” note for his girlfriend. Perhaps he hoped to get shot down by the Americans after violating our airspace, but then why land the plane? Why not just nose it down into a cornfield?
For that matter, if he wanted to provoke an attack from the F-16s, Berke could have flown at a major population center. Instead, he avoided them, flying mostly over farmland. At one point, he flew the unpressurized Cessna to 14,000 feet, perhaps hoping to die from hypoxia, but then returned to a safe altitude of 3700 feet before he could pass out.
None of this makes much sense. Fortunately, the US has Berke and might get some answers out of him, but in the end, I’m betting nothing adds up except mental illness.