Start flying around the United Kingdom without telling anyone where you're going, and you'll get a stern talking-to. Ignore the stern talking-to, and you'll see some fighter jets off your wing. Ignore them, and this might be the last thing you'll hear before you get blown out of the sky.
Local denizens of Kent, in eastern England, heard a spine-rattling bang yesterday from two Eurofighter Typhoons racing over the British landscape. They were headed to intercept a Latvian An-26 cargo plane which had stopped responding to British air traffic controllers, according to the BBC:
A spokeswoman for RAF-AVIA, the Latvian airline that operated the aircraft, said it had been on a routine flight to Birmingham from Italy when the pilots lost communication with air traffic control on entering UK airspace.
She said the technical reason behind the communication failure was still unclear and the company had not yet spoken to its crew.
In typical British fashion, the Royal Air Force politely apologized for the "noise disturbance" caused by the Typhoons. But judging from the radio traffic of the RAF pilots, when British airspace may be threatened, they are anything but polite:
In case the embedded audio isn't working, the Latvian plane got a very, very clear warning:
1605 from the L9T47: I am instructed by Her Majesty's government of the United Kingdom to warn you that if you do not respond immediately to my orders, you will be shot down.
Thankfully for the Lithuanian crew aboard, they responded very, very immediately to the Typhoon pilots, and made a swift landing at London's Stansted airport. Local officials immediately cleared up the situation, and they are no longer investigating.
Which is just about the best outcome you could hope for, considering the alternative.
Big hattip to ttyymmnn on Oppo!
Photo credit: Getty Images