In theory, a missing, fully oper­a­tional com­mer­cial air­liner in the wrong hands could be really dangerous.

But this is one threat that America is pre­pared to handle.

Decades of Cold War anx­iety about incoming nuclear weapons have trans­lated into closely mon­i­tored U.S. air space. You can’t fly a big plane into U.S. skies without the Air Force showing up a few yards from your cockpit window, won­dering what you are up to.

When drug smug­glers took to the air to feed America’s cocaine habit in the 1980s, the U.S. became adept at spot­ting even small planes trying to stealthily cross borders.

And after Sept. 11, 2001, domestic air space is much more closely mon­i­tored, espe­cially around places like Washington.

Not only are U.S. defenses good at detecting intru­sions, but they are nimble at inter­cep­tions. Air Force jets can be scram­bled in minutes.

Read the article at New York Daily News →