A Bizarre and Suspicious Flight

After 800 miles, a crash, a swim and a gun wound

All seemed well when Washington lawyer Thomas Root, 36, climbed into a Cessna 210 Centurion and took off from National Airport at 6:33 a.m. Thursday. He often piloted himself on business trips, and the 156-mile jaunt to Rocky Mount, N.C., that his flight plan called for appeared routine. Two hours into his trip, however -- and some 45 minutes after he was expected to land -- Root radioed the Federal Aviation Administration at Leesburg, Va., that he was suffering chest pains and having difficulty breathing.

As his plane crossed North Carolina and headed south over the Atlantic, it picked up a...

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