This week’s gotten off to a rough start for U.S. airlines, after a weekend seemingly replete with bomb threats, diversions and evacuations. On Saturday, two airliners bound for Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport were intercepted and escorted by Lockheed-Martin F-16C Fighting Falcons from the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169FW at McEntire Joint National Guard Base. A pair of the scrambled Swamp Fox jets escorted each airliner as they arrived safely in Atlanta after being on the receiving end of bomb threats via Twitter.

Not to be outdone, the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142FW at Portland got to play their hand the very next day after two flights inbound to Seattle-Tacoma International were also threatened. The Boeing F-15Cs hustled out of their Portland base and escorted at least one of the airliners to Seattle, where the crew landed on the most distant runway and evacuated the aircraft.

But we’re still not done, as a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Orlando was diverted to Dallas/Fort Worth on Sunday as a matter of precaution. The flight continued to its destination several hours later, after the passengers were taken off and the aircraft searched.

An F-15C from the Oregon ANG's 142FW departs Nellis during a Red Flag mission
An F-15C from the Oregon ANG’s 142FW departs Nellis AFB during a Red Flag mission (photo © Jonathan Derden)

With approximately 30,000 airline operations in the U.S. each day, the handful of flights that were affected represent but a small fraction of the total number of daily commercial flights. Almost 5,000 are in the air at any given time, but the vast majority of the time they don’t make headlines – bomb threats do – and we like to keep it that way. As an airline pilot, it’s likely that unless people know you as Sully, it’s generally a bad thing to be featured on the news.

Thankfully, in all the cases this weekend the aircraft “targeted” in the threats landed safely without further incident. Apparently the source of the threats thought that trolling various airlines’ social media outlets for laughs would be a good idea. NORAD had their hands full this weekend, but as a frequent flier I’m grateful for their overwatch of our airspace as part of Operation Noble Eagle.

(Featured Image: AP/David Goldman)

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