Wrong Number Causes False Alarm
Pilot Harry Butler wondered why more than a dozen law-enforcement officers surrounded his Cessna Citation 501 after he landed at Georgetown County Airport in South Carolina on Thursday morning. He'd lost his radios en route and returned to have them checked out, but that hardly seemed to explain it. It turned out that when he had asked his co-pilot to change the transponder code to 7600 to alert controllers that he'd lost the radios, it was set accidentally to the code for a hijacking. FBI agents and FAA officials questioned the two for about two hours, then let them go, according to The Sun News. A similar false alarm occurred recently in Australia, when a King Air pilot inadvertently used a "secret code word" during radio communications that triggered concerns about a possible hijacking in progress. The country's national terrorism emergency plan kicked into full gear, an emergency command post was set up in a bunker in Canberra, the nation's capital, and the plane was tracked by radar and real-time satellite images as it flew from Brisbane to Melbourne.