When the FBI in Honolulu received a call Thursday night that an Alaska Airlines commercial flight from Kona to Seattle had a hijacker on board, the Oregon Air National Guard dispatched two F-15 fighter jets to escort the plane to Sea-Tec Airport.
The FBI determined there was no threat after detaining one of the passengers. Now FBI agents are seeking information on what turned out to be not only an inconvenience, but a costly prank that could land the caller in prison for up to 5 years.
FBI Special Agent Tom Simon told Hawaii Reporter on Friday: “Prank calls to the FBI are not a laughing matter. In fact, they can be a federal crime, particularly if resources are directed toward chasing down false leads and practical jokes. The FBI is interested in finding out who made this call and what their motivation was.”
On Friday, the public affairs officer the Oregon National Guard could not be reached for comment on how much the unnecessary effort cost taxpayers.
This was not the first time a Hawaii related flight received an escort from the Oregon Air National Guard.
In 2010, Oregon Air National Guard F-15 fighters intercepted Hawaiian Air Flight 39 near Portland. Just after Hawaiian Air 39 left Portland Airport on its way to Hawaii, a passenger caused a disturbance and the pilot turned the airport around. The plane was met by law enforcement and the Transportation Security Agency.
According to the National Guard web site, the Oregon National Guard’s 142nd Fighter Wing “guards the Pacific Northwest skies” between northern California and Canadian border on a 24-hour basis as part of the North American Air Defense system.