2011-09-16 / Top Stories

Screaming Jet Fighters

By Howard Schwach


An F-16 Fighter, like the one that escorted an American Airlines flight into JFK on September 11. An F-16 Fighter, like the one that escorted an American Airlines flight into JFK on September 11. It has been a long time since F-16 fighter jets patrolled the skies over the Rockaway peninsula. They were in evidence after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and once again a month and a day later, when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into the streets in Belle Harbor.

So, on September 11 of this year, ten years after the seminal event that changed America forever, the scream of fighter jets low over Belle Harbor once again set many residents on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

In fact, those Air Force F-16’s, out of Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts, had been scrambled at the behest of the Transportation Safety Agency (TSA) because of reported “peculiar behavior” on the part of three passengers on American Airlines Flight 34 from Los Angeles.

The fighter jets were scrambled to escort the airliner on Sunday after the crew became suspicious of passengers spending too long in the toilet, amid heightened security for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, new reports said.

According to published reports, a passenger told a female flight attendant that three men seated in separate rows were going to the bathroom frequently and spending a long time in the bathrooms, located at the rear of the aircraft.

The flight attendant passed the report to one of two air marshals on the flight, who notified the pilot and guarded the flight deck.

As per regulations, the pilot reported that he may have a problem on board and the two jet fighters were ordered to escort the plane into JFK Airport, just across Jamaica Bay from the Rockaway peninsula.

The plane landed safely, no devices were found and there was no suspicion of terrorist activity, TSA officials said.

The three passengers were detained, questioned and released.

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