WASHINGTON—Federal officials believe a small aircraft that reportedly looked like a drone and flew close to a landing airliner at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York was probably a model aircraft sent aloft from Long Island.
Whatever the object, the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration issued a public alert Tuesday seeking assistance in identifying the operator and the aircraft, which a nearby pilot described as “black in color and no more than 3 feet wide with four propellers.”
It was spotted about 1:15 p.m. Monday by the pilot of Alitalia Flight 608 as it approached runway 31R at JFK. The pilot radioed, “We saw a drone, a drone aircraft!” He said the aircraft had an altitude of about 1,500 feet and was about three miles from his plane. That would put it well past the 400-foot height restriction and far too close to the airport.
Law enforcement officials speculate that the craft had drifted off, or the operator lost control somewhere along the south shore of Long Island, and it wafted toward the airport, one of the nation’s busiest for international flights.