Pilot Accidentally Squawks Hijack Code

A red-faced pilot had some explaining to do when he or she landed at the airport in Kingston, Ontario last week and a phalanx of police vehicles were there to meet him. The pilot inadvertently squawked 7500, the universal distress code for an aircraft that has been hijacked, on his transponder while flying from the Toronto area. The Piper Cherokee pilot had reported radio problems, which has a transponder code of 7600 to alert controllers that the crew is having communications problems. It’s not clear if the pilot got the codes mixed up or just selected one wrong number but it didn’t make any difference to the police response.

A hijack alert is always met with a large police response regardless of whether the pilot tries to correct the error in flight. Flight tracking data also suggests that Kingston wasn’t the pilot’s original destination and he or she was diverted there. The plane was originally on a northeast heading and turned due south to land safely at Kingston about 11 a.m. Monday.