F-16s Scrambled to Escort Jets After Twitter Bomb Threat
Both passenger jets landed safely, NORAD says.
By LUIS MARTINEZ, JACK DATE and DEAN SCHABNER
January 24, 2015, 11:44 PM
• 3 min read
-- An apparent bomb threat against two passenger flights that was tweeted today resulted in two F-16 fighter jets being scrambled to escort the two airliners.
The two flights were both enroute to Hartsfeld-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, where they landed safely NORAD said.
"When the threat came in through Twitter, something was suspicious enough about it to make that determination that caused someone to elevate it to the point that it caused the scramble of the fighter jets and the notifications that occurred," Special Agent in Charge Britt Johnson said at the Atlanta airport.
The fighters from McEntire Joint National Guard Base in South Carolina were dispatched at 1 p.m. ET and escorted the planes to Hartsfeld, where they both landed safely, NORAD spokesman Preston Schlachter said.
The fighters escorted both aircraft from a distance behind until they landed.
The two passenger flights were Delta 1156 from Portland and Southwest 2492 from Milwaukee.
"It does happen from time to time as part of our NORAD mission to in collaboration with homeland defense security and law enforcement partner to prevent air strikes against North America and safeguard our sovereign airspace," Schlacter said.
The threats appear to have originated from the Twitter handle @kingZortic, according to officials familiar with the incident. As of late afternoon Saturday, the account had only 11 tweets, 10 of which appeared to be related to threats against Delta and Southwest Airlines.
"We'll absolutely be doing everything we can to identify who made the initial threats and track 'em down," Johnson said.