Jet's mysterious flight leaves some residents puzzled

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by Carina Sonn

azfamily.com

Posted on July 10, 2012 at 10:26 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 10 at 10:41 PM

MARANA, Ariz. -- A plane on a wild flight path had some residents in the Valley looking for answers Tuesday.

Emails poured in about a jet that was circling in the sky for about an hour, leaving contrails miles wide.

Some residents, like Barbara Borden - who saw the sky-high mystery from 99th Avenue and Thomas - feared the worst.

"Was there a hi-jacking going on? Is there a problem with the plane and they're burning off fuel, all these things go through your mind. I'm thinking 'oh my gosh, what's happening with this airplane?'" said Borden.

"The circles were getting tighter and tighter and it appeared he was descending," said Jeffrey Hitz who saw the jet from 35th Avenue and Thunderbird.

The answer, according to officials from Pinal Airpark near Marana - is simple.

Turns out the private Boeing jet is owned by a cargo company called Southern Air out of Connecticut. It hadn't been flown since 2003, according to flightaware.com.

So the company took the recently refurbished jet, out on a test flight.

It left Marana at about 1:30 in the afternoon, and after circling around several times, it appears to head to California - where it reportedly was supposed to land at Travis Air Force Base.

Instead the plane went the opposite direction to New Mexico and then landed in Marana again just after 5 p.m.

"It could have been an aircraft that had some special equipment on board that they were checking out to find out whether or not that equipment was working properly..." said Jim Tilmon, an aviation expert.

Southern Air didn't return a call for comment, but the company's website states that it does work with the US Military to help deliver cargo.

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