Taiwanese F-16 intercepts 18-year-old U.S. pilot on world tour

Fighter jet guided record-breaking pilot out of Taiwanese airspace

Image from Mason Andrews' Instagram page www.instagram.com/lance78c

Image from Mason Andrews' Instagram page www.instagram.com/lance78c (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - An F-16 intercepted an 18-year-old American pilot on a world tour when he mistakenly strayed into Taiwanese airspace last month, the Ministry of National Defense said Wednesday.

Mason Andrews of Monroe, Louisiana, on Tuesday completed a record-breaking 76-day flight around the world. He hopes to be listed as the youngest pilot to fly solo around the world, as well as over the Pacific and the Atlantic.

The flight raised US$30,000 (NT$929,000) for MedCamps of Louisiana, which runs summer camps for children with disabilities, CBS News reported.

On September 19, as he was flying from the Philippines to Japan, a Taiwanese radar picked him up and ROCAF sent an F-16 to intercept him. As the pilot assumed the U.S. plane was lost, he helped guide him back on course, the Central News Agency quoted the Ministry of National Defense as saying.

His radio had gone out, and he strayed into Taiwanese airspace trying to avoid bad weather when the F-16 appeared, according to CBS News.

“Was it scary? ‘A little bit. It was cool to see.’ Andrews said he’d have liked to take a photo, but ‘I didn’t want to provoke the guy. I knew he could see me,’” CBS News reported.

On his Instagram page, the young pilot described the event as “a personal airshow” by the Taiwanese Air Force. The incident was over as Andrews edged back into Japanese airspace, according to the report.