No Definitive Word on Missing Cirrus

NORAD reported the pilot was unresponsive.

The U.S. Coast Guard has not yet located a missing Cirrus SR22T that was last tracked heading toward the Gulf of Mexico.Cirrus Aircraft

The U.S. Coast Guard this morning reported it had not yet located a debris field for a Cirrus SR22T that was last tracked Wednesday night heading south into the Gulf of Mexico. The Cirrus was on an IFR flight plan from Oklahoma City’s Wiley Post Airport on Wednesday to Georgetown Texas just outside Austin when the pilot became unresponsive to ATC calls. The aircraft, flying at 19,000 feet, never descended and headed toward the Gulf. It was last observed on radar about 220 miles northwest of Cancun, Mexico.

The North American Air Defense Command scrambled F-16s from Ellington Field near Houston last night to evaluate the situation while the Cirrus was still airborne. The NORAD pilots reported the only person on board the Cirrus was unresponsive likely due to hypoxia.

The Coast Guard next launched an HC-144 Ocean Sentry from Corpus Christi and an HC-130 Hercules from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater to begin the search. The lack of a debris field related to the Cirrus might mean the wreckage has simply not yet been located, or leaves open the possibility that the pilot might have regained consciousness as the aircraft descended to a lower altitude and turned the aircraft in some other direction, an action that would have significantly enlarged the required search area.