November 22nd, 2010
03:23 PM ET

F-16s scramble as private plane violates D.C. airspace

Two F-16 fighter jets briefly took to the skies over Washington on Friday after a small passenger aircraft violated the capital's airspace restrictions, according to military officials.

A portion of the White House grounds was briefly evacuated during the incident.

The passenger plane - a Cessna 182 - was escorted by the F-16s to an airport in nearby Manassas, Virginia. The Secret Service will interview the pilot, a spokesman for the agency told CNN.

- From CNN's  Shawna Shepherd and Mike Ahlers

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soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. chuck

    I heard that when the fighter jets are on standby day after day for an event like this, they leave their engines running 24/7 so they can take off quick. They said it adds up to millions in fuel costs per year. Why don't they come up with some hybrid jet engines??

    November 22, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      The engines are not running 24/7. The crew is dressed and in the ready room. The aircraft has gone through pre-flight and is ready to start and take off within a short specific time.

      November 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dale

      The F-16's do not stay running 24/7 on alert, they either stay in the cocpit with the Crew Chief on the ground ready to launch or they all in the "ready" room waiting for th horn to go off. From engine statrt to taxi to take off, it is about 15 minutes or less. These guys are good, and thank God they are.

      November 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      What kind of hybrid engine are you talking about. It takes 15-20 to warm up a jet engine so it's safe to fly. Developing ANY new engine costs way more than the fuel burned while on stand-by.

      November 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Skeiron

      I doubt that they have the engines running, taking off with an empty fuel tank would be kinda counterproductive^^

      In Germany there are 2 Alarmrotten, one in the south and one in the north, if one of em gets alerted two fighters have to take off in less than 15 minutes, that's the normal situation.
      But if it's necessary the response time can also be reduced to 10 minutes (then the pilot sits already in the fighter) or 5 minutes (the fighter is already on the runway).

      November 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John R

    The F-16's "chased" the Cessna 182...although I know what they meant, I can just imagine an F-16 with its heavy rear end weighing down the fighter as it slowly buzzards its way along while the little Cessna is running flat-out. Even OJ's Ford Bronco could go faster.

    November 22, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cvguy

    A Cessna 182? Really...they think THAT is a threat? Even loaded with as many box cutters, shoe bombs and exploding underwear they could cram into it about the worst that could happen to the White House is that we'd have to pay for a new coat of paint on it. The Feds are incapable of using their pea brained minds to separate THREAT from Non-threat or Accident...which is why you can no longer drive by the Emperors Mansion, and why Grandma gets groped and little Tiffany gets Nude scanned. Wouldn't we all just be better off without jerks in Washington D.C.and their counterparts around the world?

    November 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zach

      Imagine the kind of ridicule they would get if something did happen and they weren't prepared for it. When in doubt, shoot first and ask later.

      November 22, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • mslman71

      Yessir, you are correct. Irrational and disproportionate response is what it is all about.

      November 22, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • mslman71

      Oh, and Zach – where do you think the bullets and/or missiles go when firing at an aircraft (over a crowded urban area)? this isn't the movies, that mass and any secondary debris ends up on the ground. How do you think the PR would go when they find a grandma, child, or two split in half from some large cannon rounds fired at a four seater light aircraft?

      November 22, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Zach

      @Mslman71 There are guidelines and Rules of Engagement for every situation. It is up to the Pilot's Judgement when to engage and when not to, warranting they have been given the go ahead. There are set standards and rules on when to and when not to do something. These men and women are Air Force Officers they have orders and they abide by them.

      In the end it all boils down to what is going to cause the least amount of loss of life and property. There is also something called escalation of force. They start with minimal actions trying to "convince" the person to deviate from their current path. From there if they do not comply they escalate force until it is necessary to use LETHAL force. There are SOPs in place for a reason. Even the average infantry joe has escalation of force rules and various standard operating procedures to handle situations similar to this.

      November 22, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • len

      The useful load capacity of a 182 depending on the variant is 1,140 lb (517 kg). Given a light pilot, say 1000 pounds of available weight can be used depending on the explosive type and other factors to do significant damage. Getting through the active defenses would not be trivial these days. The 182 itself is *essentially* insignificant. Frank Eugene Corder tried it in September 1994 with a 172 and died on the White House lawn. It helps to fly sober. The significant threats are still jetliners so, put your hands over your head and sing La Cucaracha while they pat you down remembering this bit of humiliation is the price we pay for flying the friendly skies disunited if unprofiled.

      November 22, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Confused

    Flying in the SFRA or FRZ is not overly complicated get a briefing check NOTAMS and TFRs and Plan your course carefully

    November 22, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hello

    Bet it cost over a million bucks for that escort. Pocket change I guess...

    November 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jason

    Try reading a flight chart(I can hardly read the simulator ones). Just saying, its easy to get confused. Go easy on the guy!

    November 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kenny

    I can understand how easy it was for the pilot to accidentally cross into the NO FLY ZONE. Have you ever tried to navigate the streets of Washington, DC? Well it's even harder to see the street signs from 2 or 3 thousand feet.

    November 22, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. chuck

    they should just build some tall radio type towers around the white house like really tall, then they can string some kind of netting around the towers or wires that would stop someone from flying through it. It would be cheaper than flying jets around. Or maybe some kind of un-manned blimps like you see at football games surrounding the white house. It would do 2 things,,,,mark the area to stay out of, and they could put motion sensor things on them to fire warning shots first then switch to real bullits.

    November 22, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Munk

      Better yet, let's just move the White House. Move it to Iowa. There's nothing there and it's a boring smelly state.

      November 22, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sarah Palin

    Dang nabbit, I was sure this plan would work. I figured if I just landed my Cessna on the White House Lawn, and say "mine", then I'd be in charge, no? You Betcha (wink)

    November 22, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Penone

    I wonder if he got the enhanced pat down when he landed?

    November 22, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. S

    I heard them fly over my building. It was amazingly loud. I LITERALLY stopped what I was doing because the intensity of the sound of the F16s flying overhead. Ridiculous. When are people ~nay~ jr.pilots going to learn?!!

    November 22, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ahhhlol

    Too funny two f-16s chased a cessna, I would of loved to see how that worked out. I am a private pilot and you can watch cars on the road from above and they are moving faster than a cessna putt putts...

    November 22, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Phil

    A backscatter x-ray or enhanced pat down could have prevented this! This would never have happened if they took away our fourth amendment right! Give up your rights to your government so they can protect you from incidents like this!

    November 22, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Michael SEars

    Shoot the next one down and you won't have to worry about any more idiots violating federal airspace again. Did you ever think some of these "incidents" might be terrorists checking on our response times?

    November 22, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mslman71

    Nice use of taxpayer resources – two f-16s at a burn rate of god knows what per hour to track down a 182. I guess they need to keep current somehow – so why not? Anyway, trying flying that corridor sometime. As usual, the quickest to judge and criticize are those who've never flown or had to maneuver through the restricted airspace up there. I was there during and after 9/11 and gave up flying. It just wasn't worth it. Nothing spells terror like a screaming 182, or 150 for that matter. Anyway, a none issue.

    November 22, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
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