Sunday, June 19, 2011

Helicopters intercept aircraft near US capital

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Coast Guard helicopters intercepted a small aircraft that entered restricted air space near the US capital on Saturday, military officials said.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said it ordered the action after the "small general aviation aircraft" approached the capital region without authorization at about 11:50 am (1550 GMT).
"Upon being intercepted, the civilian aircraft was diverted to Annapolis (in Maryland) where the pilot was to meet with local law enforcement," NORAD said in a statement.
It did not provide further details on the pilot, the aircraft, its destination or the precise location of the incident.
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner were playing golf at the time at Andrews Air Force base five miles (eight kilometers) southeast of Washington.

It was the third time in a week that NORAD had to scramble jets or choppers to steer away civilian planes that strayed into restricted air space in the vicinity of the president.
On June 11 two US F-15 fighter jets intercepted a small civilian plane flying near Camp David, the presidential retreat where Obama was spending the weekend with his family.
Two days later NORAD directed two Coast Guard HH65 "Dolphin" helicopters to intercept a small plane as it neared the capital region, but after identification the aircraft was permitted to continue to its destination.


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