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Louisiana Air National Guard Pilots Intercept And Assist In Recovery Of Plane Flown By Marcus Schrenker

Members of the 159th Fighter Wing's Alert Facility scramble two F-15 fighter aircraft on April 8th, 2009.  (Photo taken by Civilian Photographer), (Released).

Members of the 159th Fighter Wing's Alert Facility scramble two F-15 fighter aircraft on April 8th, 2009. (Photo taken by Civilian Photographer), (Released).

January 13, 2009 -- BELLE CHASSE, La. - Two Louisiana Air National Guard pilots intercepted the airplane used by Marcus Schrenker in what is now being called an attempt to fake his death. Major Matt Rippen and Captain Josh Fogle were manning their alert mission in Belle Chasse, La when they got the call.

"This is just one aspect of our mission which includes homeland defense," said Major Rippen. "We have conducted many intercepts with the situation usually being one of someone accidentally flying off course or perhaps being on the wrong frequency." At no time were they expecting that there wasn't a pilot in the airplane at all.

Sunday evening the two pilots were missioned to go and find the airplane that had previously made a distress call to the FAA and then went silent. When they arrived the airplane was still in the air on a course headed towards the Gulf of Mexico. With Major Rippen flying above and Capt Fogle flying next to it they "shadowed "the plane until it impacted the ground. Capt Fogle at that point was able to direct local authorities to the crash site to recover the plane and try to locate the pilot.

After finding out that the pilot was not in the aircraft in a plot to fake his death Capt Fogle said "It a little bit frustrating to me" talking about Schrenker's lack of concern about the houses and people that the unmanned airplane could have potentially crashed into.

The 159th Fighter Wing is tasked to provide air superiority over Louisiana and the Gulf Coast while supporting the North American Aerospace Defense Command. To complete this mission requires air defense alert 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Maj Rippen joined the ANG in Aug 05, has been assigned as a Flight Commander, Alert Operations Officer, and is now the 159FW Safety Officer. He has flown F-15s for 12 years and has over 1100 hours in the F-15.

Capt Fogle is an Active Duty pilot assigned to the 159th Fighter Wing, and has been a member of the unit since Aug 2007. He has flown F-15's for 6 years and has over 700 hours.