Very sad and strange but an Horizon ground staff took a Q400 and flew it. This caused NORAD to scramble two F-15Cs from Portland to intercept which a plane spotter took.
Made want to exercise my inner geek and figure what the planes were…
These are F-15C, if you look, then have a balanced load, so each side is duplicated, but they have 610 gallon drop tanks, a pair of AMRAMM missiles (radar guided 40 miles range, fire and forget) and Sidewinder heat seeking missiles.
They are actually from the the 104th Fighter wing (you can see this on the tail). All US planes have an airbase code, in their case MA for Massachusetts. Their serial number system is super simple AF for airforce, then the year it was put into service ’84 (so these things are 34 years old) and then it was the 16th airframe commissioned has year. Some aficionado actually keeps track. This is the C variant. The major improvement are conformal fuel tanks it can carry. A lot less drag and more range. These are not mounted though.
As an aside with full afterburner, the two engine double their power to 23K pounds each, the plane weighs 40K pounds, so basically on afterburner, it can go straight up. It’s maximum climb is 40K feet per minute.
It’s 180 miles from Portland to Seattle so I’m sure they went supersonic to get there in time. As they were reported to be there in 9 minutes. Sonic booms were heard and that makes sense as 150/9 minutes is 1000 mph?!?
Although the plane has a top speed of Mach 2.5 (1800 mph). They weren’t going that fast.
The planes were “dirty”. Those drop tanks and things are not good for aerodynamics.
And if you want to be a complete nerd these are old planes, metal fatigue is a factor. At full afterburner you only have enough fuel for maybe 9 minutes of full augmentation as they call it with internal fuel. So you can see why they had the drop tanks for a mission like this.
NORAD is that n charge on the defense of US and Canada and they have a contingency for this. These are called Alert 5 aircraft (wheels up in five minutes after the horn sounds. So they are fueled and pilots wait around 7/24 to jump in). So they take off burn to intercept drop the tanks and then are ready for whatever. :-). Boy I am a nerd. They were up in 8 minutes which is impressive.