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Say you're flying an amateur-built plane just out over the waters of, say, Alaska. And then you encounter a fleet of maybe 5 foreign military jets directly above you, and then you get radio transmissions from the group in Russian. Well, what should a pilot do? The pilot doesn't understand Russian and is clearly not over any foreign airspace as the pilot is flying less than 20 miles south from the shores of Alaska, which shouldn't be somewhere that foreign military jets should be scaring pilots.

Would heading back to shore really be a good idea? The jets could potentially be hostile. So, what would be the wisest decision in this sort of scenario?

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  • $\begingroup$ See also aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/87354/… $\endgroup$ May 27 '21 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ Voting to reopen. There are intenationally applicable rules describing how to respond to being intercepted. $\endgroup$ May 28 '21 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps, but the question isn't worded clearly enough to presume an actual legitimate intercept has occurred such that international rules are applicable. I.e. "directly above" is not an intercept action, (how far above?) if the pilot doesn't speak Russian then how could he/she possible know the comms were directed at them? And what might Russian planes be doing inside the US coastal ADIZ? Are you confident in your recognition?! Sorry, but this is just another random "what if" scenario triggered by recent news events. And I would bet if you searched you would find a dupe on intercepts. $\endgroup$ May 28 '21 at 17:46
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According to ICAO conventions the offical international language of aviation is English therefore it is unlikely that Russian fighter pilots will speak in Russian to a foreign pilot. If the pilot overlfying American waters, it's unlikely that Russian fighters are free to intercept planes in American airspace.

If such scenario happens, the pilot can report the situation to the ATC, then the situation will quickly escalate. If the private pilot is in American airspace and Russian fighters are not authorised, the private pilot should be safe following ATC directions and/or continue the route as planned. USAF will take care of the rest.

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  • $\begingroup$ So will reporting the situation to the ATC cause USAF to arrive? $\endgroup$
    – Ginger
    May 27 '21 at 16:49
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    $\begingroup$ Yes to protect the private pilot $\endgroup$
    – Afe
    May 27 '21 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ It would be a huge diplomatic issue. Regardless of the orders received, everyone (fighter pilots included) can choose to do whatever they want disregarding any law, but everything has consequences. The safest thing to do is probably to get on the ground as quickly as possible (ditching included) though a small private plane can do little against fighter jets $\endgroup$
    – Afe
    May 27 '21 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Afe, so if you are less than 20 miles from the shoreline of Alaska you would just ditch in the frigid ocean if you saw fighters, rather than turning back towards US airspace? (Because I don’t understand Russian, but my first guess is that they might want me to go back to where I came from...) $\endgroup$ May 27 '21 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ If foreign fighter jets were to enter U.S. airspace, USAF would be on them in a matter of minutes, prolly even before they cross into the airspace. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    May 27 '21 at 22:04

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