For the second time in less than 48 hours, two U.S. Air Force fighter jets were quickly sent to Palm Beach County on Sunday to intercept an airplane that had entered restricted air space near President Donald Trump’s oceanfront estate.
When Trump is at Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach — as he has been for three weekends in a row — the airspace near the resort is off-limits to general aviation.
The F-16s made the intercept about noon Sunday, according to Air Force SMSgt. Chuck Marsh, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command.
The general aviation aircraft was not in communication with air traffic control authorities when it entered the restricted air space, according to Marsh.
Once the F-16s got close to the plane in the southwest section of the restricted area, the Air Force pilots established communication and told the other pilot to leave the area, Marsh said.
“The pilot was very compliant,” said Marsh, and left immediately.
Unlike a similar incident on Friday evening, there was no sonic boom associated with Sunday’s interception, Marsh said.
After eight private aircraft violated the temporary flight restrictions around the president’s Palm Beach home about 7 p.m. Friday, two Air Force F-15s from Homestead Air National Guard Base traveled to the area at supersonic speeds, triggering the boom heard throughout Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Marsh said the F-16s that responded Sunday did not reach supersonic speeds. He said he did not know where the F-16s were based.
The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the incident and take appropriate enforcement action, an agency spokeswoman said. The agency will continue to educate pilots about the restrictions.
Trump spent the morning at his golf club in West Palm Beach and returned there for dinner for about two hours, according to pool reports. While at Mar-a-lago in the afternoon, Trump met with four potential National Security Adviser candidates and spoke to the president of Panama, The Associated Press reported.
Trump is scheduled to leave Palm Beach County about 5 p.m. Monday.
Source: Orlando Sentinel
By: Mike Clary
20 February 2017