Sunday, April 06, 2014

Busting Airspace: F-16 Fighter Jets Intercept Plane in DC Restricted Area

F-16s scrambled after plane enters restricted airspace over Washington  

Two F-16 fighter jets briefly intercepted a small plane Sunday that was flying in restricted airspace over Washington without communicating with air-traffic controllers, the Air Force said, adding that the pilot apparently had no hostile intentions.

The two jets were scrambled from Andrews Air Force base about 12:30 p.m. when the plane, a Cessna, was detected over Washington and its pilot did not immediately respond to air-traffic controllers, said Air Force Capt. Jennifer Stadnyk, a spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), in Colorado.

When the F-16s arrived, the Cessna’s pilot already had diverted out of restricted airspace and soon began talking with air-traffic controllers, Stadnyk said.

The pilot, whose identity was not made public, apparently was flying over the nation’s capital “without realizing that he was somewhere where he shouldn’t be,” Stadnyk said. She said she did not know whether the plane was forced to land.

NORAD’s involvement ended when the plane left restricted air space and any follow-up investigation would be done by the Federal Aviation Administration, Stadnyk said.


Two F-16 fighter jets intercepted an aircraft that was in a restricted flight area over Washington, D.C., Sunday afternoon.

In a press release from the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the aircraft was not responding to communication, but was exiting the restricted area when the NORAD jets from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado intercepted and visually identified the plane.

The identity of the plane was not released. The aircraft resumed communications with air traffic control after leaving the Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA).

In order the fly in the SFRA, pilots are required to file a special flight plan, obtain a specific transponder code, and remain in contact with air traffic control at all times. 

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