The pilot, center, was identified as James Patrick Murphy, an off-duty lieutenant-colonel in the US Navy. (Antara Photo/Fadlansyah)

Indonesian Fighters Intercept Plane With Off-Duty US Navy Pilot


NOVEMBER 09, 2015

Jakarta. Two Sukhoi fighter jets from the Indonesian Air Force on Monday afternoon forced a single-engine airplane flown by an off-duty US Navy pilot to land in North Kalimantan as it had illegally entered Indonesian airspace, local media reported.

The American pilot, who was identified as Lt. Col. James Patrick Murphy, was told to land his plane at Juwata International Airport in Tarakan.

The area is close to Indonesia's borders with Malaysia and the Philippines.

It was reported that the American claimed that he had been on a trip from Hawaii to Singapore via the Philippines, and that he had not been aware that he had entered Indonesian airspace.

The incident happened at around 2.30 p.m. local time.

Reports also said that military officials who were holding Murphy were waiting for instructions from the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Jakarta whether or not to release him.

The intercepted plane at Tarakan's Juwata International Airport in North Kalimantan, while a Sukhoi from the Indonesian Air Force flies by. (Antara Photo/Fadlanshay)

Correction: An earlier version of this story erroneously mentioned the plane was a Cessna, while in fact it was a Cirrus SR20.