NORAD F-16 fighter jet intercepted small planes in restricted airspace in California

 NORAD F-16 fighter jet intercepted small planes in restricted airspace in California

Source: ABC News

Last Friday, an F-16 fighter jet from the Continental U.S. NORAD region intercepted a small plane in restricted airspace over Southern California, near a community college where President Biden had just started speaking. The incident happened in Santa Ana, California, and the president’s event was only about 12 miles away in Irvine.

According to NORAD, the fighter jet fired flares to “capture” the Cessna pilot’s attention. The F-16 alerted the pilot several times that he had been “intercepted” by the armed jet on guard and had entered restricted airspace, according to air traffic control audio. The pilot requested that the errant Cessna respond to a radio call and rock its wings.

According to an unverified tweet of the conversation, the F-16 fighter pilot also tried to get the Cessna pilot’s attention by performing “headbutt” maneuvers such as flying in front of the plane. Whenever the president travels, a temporary flight restriction, or TFR, is almost always in effect.

Fighter pilots deployed to intercept a stray plane will first attempt to communicate with the errant plane’s pilot. If communication is not possible, the fighter pilot will resort to “nonverbal” tactics such as flares or headbutts.

According to NORAD, Mr. Biden’s economic speech at Irvine Valley College began at 3:08 p.m. PT, and the intercept occurred just two minutes later.

According to flight records, the Cessna took off from Kingman, Ariz., and landed in Chino, Calif., at 3:24 p.m. The fixed-wing, single-engine plane was about 5,500 feet above the ground when it was intercepted. According to, the plane was in the restricted security zone for about four minutes.

According to a Secret Service spokesperson, the agency was aware of the incident and the president’s schedule was not interrupted.

Breaching FAA-restricted airspace during presidential trips is fairly common, and it is almost always the result of pilot error.

A second airspace violation occurred last week when a different plane entered restricted airspace in California, according to NORAD and the Secret Service.

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