Plane Crash Follows Erratic Flight, Scramble of NATO Jets

Private Cessna aircraft plunged into Baltic Sea, off the coast of Latvia
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2022 8:44 AM CDT
After an Erratic Flight, Plane 'Disappeared From the Radar'
Stock photo of a different Cessna.   (Getty Images/Matheus Obst)

A private plane that took off out of Spain on Sunday ended up in the waters off of Latvia, after an erratic flight path that drew NATO jets to track the aircraft. CNN reports the Cessna 551 registered in Austria took off from Jerez shortly before 1pm local time, with Cologne, Germany, set as its destination, according to flight-tracking site Flightradar24. But it never made it to its final stop, instead turning at both Paris and Cologne, then cruising out over the Baltic Sea, near the Swedish island of Gotland, per Reuters. That's when, at around 5:30pm, the plane is said to have started quickly losing speed and altitude, before finally slamming into the water. "We've learned that the plane has crashed [in the ocean]," Sweden's rescue service said, noting the aircraft went down northwest of the Latvian town of Ventspils, per Reuters. "It has disappeared from the radar."

A NATO official tells CNN that planes from Germany, Denmark, France, Sweden, and Estonia were dispatched to try to touch base with the Cessna before it crashed, but to no avail. "The pilots were unable to contact the plane and could not see anyone in the cockpit," the official notes. Flightradar24 adds that the pilot was unresponsive to incoming calls, and that "the aircraft continued to fly on autopilot in a straight line before it lost altitude and crashed." Lars Antonsson, who heads up Sweden's Maritime and Air Rescue Center, tells a CNN affiliate that search and rescue teams had so far found no survivors as of early Monday morning, though Latvian officials involved in the rescue effort say that oil and what appear to be parts of the plane have been found, per the BBC.

That outlet cites German media in identifying the owner of the plane as German businessman Karl-Peter Griesemann, who was said to be aboard the aircraft with his wife, daughter, and his daughter's boyfriend. Charter plane company Quick Air confirmed Griesemann was on the Cessna with three others, per the Guardian. The German newspaper Bild reports that the plane had called in cabin pressure issues not long after takeoff, and that contact was soon lost. The plane went down "when it ran out of fuel," Antonsson tells AFP. He notes that they so far have no clue why the plane crashed, but he adds that "they [the people on board] were clearly incapacitated." (Read more plane crash stories.)

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