CLOSE CALLS

Fighter Jets Prepared to Shoot Down Plane

After a Northwest Airlines flight went 78 minutes without responding to radio contact on Thursday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command had F-16s ready and waiting to shoot down the flight in the case of hijacking. Concerns mounted when the pilots on board failed to respond to commands from the ground for over an hour, leading to the involvement of the National Counterterrorism Center, which started digging for information on the flight’s passengers. No last-minute heroics were necessary, though, and the pilots were reportedly in the middle of a “heated discussion,” or what they termed a “cockpit distraction,” when they failed to change radio frequencies after crossing over Minneapolis.