The U.S. military intercepted a small aircraft that flew into restricted airspace in Delaware over the weekend, grounding the pilot at a nearby airport in Pennsylvania as President Biden visited his home in Wilmington.
“On May 16, at approximately 1:09 p.m., a small aircraft violated the restricted airspace in Wilmington, DE,” a Secret Service spokesperson said in a statement. “Per standard protocol, U.S. military aircraft responded, the aircraft was intercepted, and the pilot redirected to a local airport.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Defense told Fox News that the pilot was not in communication with air traffic controllers when entering the restricted airspace and thus did so without proper clearance.
“The NORAD fighter dispensed signal flares during the intercept in an effort to gain the pilot’s attention and direct them safely out of the restricted zone,” the Defense Department spokesperson explained. “The violating aircraft was monitored by the NORAD aircraft until it landed at a nearby airfield.”
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Jon Martin, the aviation director at New Garden Airport in Pennsylvania, confirmed to Fox News on Monday that the small aircraft had violated the temporary flight restriction zone and was signaled with warning flares by the military fighter jet.
Martin said the plane was then grounded at the New Garden airport, noting that the local airport has been suffering frequent shutdowns due to flight restrictions implemented each time Biden returns home.
This was the first aircraft that was grounded at New Garden Airport, Martin said. Commercial air traffic, he noted, is unaffected by the temporary flight restrictions.
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Typically, flight restrictions for presidential visits include a 30 nautical mile ring, within which there is a smaller no-fly zone.
Martin said the single-engine plane had departed Ocean City, Maryland for New York when it was intercepted. He said he believed the pilot was unaware of the restrictions and was not deliberately trying to cause issues.
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