Unresponsive Plane Circling Gulf

The U.S. government is tracking an unresponsive twin engine plane now circling the Gulf of Mexico near Florida.

Contact was lost with the pilot of the Cessna, which is being tracked on radar.    Officials believe the plane, which has not been identified, has less than one hour of fuel left.

The plane took off from Slidell, La., and was en route to Sarasota, Fla., according to a flight plan. Somewhere between the two points, it began flying in circles.

The FAA lost radio contact with the Cessna 412 before 9 a.m. ET.  It was circling at approximately 28,000 feet. If it took off fully loaded, it will run out of fuel at 12:30 p.m. ET. Only the pilot is thought to be on board.

Officials at NORAD confirmed that the air defense agency has launched two F-15 fighter aircraft to intercept the general aircraft over the Gulf of Mexico.

NORAD spokesman John Cornelio said the fighter jets made contact visual with the aircraft over the Gulf around 8:45am.  They are monitoring the situation providing overhead cover.

"We are monitoring the flight pattern and the aircraft remains unresponsive," said Cornelio.

In addition to the Air Force F-15s, the Coast Guard has dispatched an HC-144 ocean sentry airplane from Mobile, Ala. An NH-60 Helicopter is on stand by in Clearwater, Fla. The US Coast Guard Cutter Coho is en route.

The Coast Guard has issued a safety net urging mariners to keep a lookout for the plane.