What Happened To The Pilot Of The Unresponsive Plane?

Rescuers are still looking for wreckage from a plane that crashed near Jamaica. Officials say the pilot might have been unconscious due to hypoxia.
Posted at 8:49 AM, Sep 06, 2014

Many questions still remain after a small plane that had been flying unresponsive for hours crashed into the ocean north of Jamaica Friday. 

As of early Saturday, the Jamaican Information Service said on Twitter search and rescue teams had not recovered any wreckage or bodies.

But officials say they have located an oil slick in the water where they suspect the plane went down. Samples from the slick are reportedly being tested for confirmation. (Video via BBC)

FAA officials say the plane, which was carrying prominent New York real estate developer Larry Glazer and his wife, lost contact with air traffic controllers around 10 a.m. on Friday. (Video via WXXI)

It was supposed to land in Naples, Florida, around noon but instead flew hundreds of miles off course for reasons still unknown. (Video via CNN)

After the plane was deemed unresponsive, two American F-15 fighter jets much like the ones seen here trailed the plane as it flew over the Atlantic. They had gone back to base to refuel when the plane crashed at around 2 p.m.

The fighter pilots told officials, before they went to refuel, they saw the pilot of the plane slumped over. And later, they observed fog and frost on the windows, which could indicate a lack of oxygen.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command suggested on Twitter a condition called cerebral hypoxia could be to blame.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, cerebral hypoxia is a condition that occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen. And when it lasts for long periods of time, it can result in coma, seizures and even brain death.

Cerebral hypoxia can happen to pilots if they reach too high of an altitude, or if there's a loss in cabin pressure.

And radio traffic revealed, shortly after the pilot in Friday's crash stopped responding to air traffic control, he had requested permission to fly at a lower altitude, saying something was "not correct" in the aircraft.

Something similar may have happened to a pilot who crashed a small plane into the ocean off the coast of Virginia just last week.

That pilot reportedly lost consciousness during flight and flew into restricted airspace over Washington, D.C., before crashing into the Atlantic. The search for the plane was halted after one day when a boater found some wreckage from the aircraft.

As for this latest crash, officials say they are continuing search and rescue efforts for the time being. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.