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AP Photo/Elaine Thompson
What’d you see up there?

An airline crew reported seeing North Korea’s latest missile

Steve Mollman
By Steve Mollman

Weekend editor

The crew on a Cathay Pacific flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong in late November believe they saw something rather unexpected from their windows: the re-entry of North Korea’s latest missile into the atmosphere.

On Nov. 29, the crew on CX893 made a report of the suspected sighting at 2:18am Hong Kong time, according to the South China Morning Post. Their flight was passing over Japan when the missile was launched, and the crew advised Japan air traffic control of the sighting according to procedure, an airline representative told the newspaper.

The incident highlights the unsettling fact that North Korea does not typically announce its missile tests. The odds of a missile accidentally hitting a plane are remote, but the possibility is nevertheless there. Indeed another Cathay Pacific flight, a cargo plane, might have been just a few hundred miles laterally from the missile.

The missile test was North Korea’s 20th this year, but, in a reminder of how unpredictable the launches are, the first since September. The nation’s third launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile—it went 10 times higher than the International Space Station—the November test demonstrated that all of the United States is now likely within range.

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