No terrorist connection in LAX incident

Published 1 February 2006

Last November a pilot saw a plume of smoke as he was flying over LAX, raising fears of a shoulder-mounted missile attack; investigation concludes this was not the case

Federal investigators have found no evidence of a terrorist connection to an American Airlines pilot’s report of a plume of smoke — possibly from a shoulder-launched missile — near Los Angeles International Airport last fall, the FBI and DHS reported. The 26 November 2005 Los Angeles-to-Chicago flight was climbing at about 13,000 feet over the Pacific when the pilot spotted a plume of smoke. The smoke was several miles away from the aircraft but was visible above the clouds at about 5,000 feet. The pilot notified air traffic controllers and surmised that it might be a model rocket.

After landing in Chicago, the pilot and a passenger were interviewed by FBI agents. The FBI, DHS, and Coast Guard all looked into the incident and found no evidence any aircraft had been targeted, DHS spokesman said. The 9/11 attacks increased fear of terrorists using shoulder-mounted missiles to attack civilian airlines, prompting new regulations. For example, people trying to buy model rocket propellant must submit to a background check, submit fingerprints, and pay for a $25 permit.

-read more in this AP report