U.S. fighters intercept plane in restricted Obama airspace

Reuters News
|
Posted: May 11, 2012 6:44 PM
U.S. fighters intercept plane in restricted Obama airspace

(Reuters) - U.S. F-16 fighters intercepted a small plane that strayed into restricted airspace as President Barack Obama was due to leave Los Angeles on Friday, following a glitzy campaign fundraiser at movie star George Clooney's home, officials said.

"The fighters responded to a temporary flight restriction violation by a Piper 28 aircraft. After intercepting the aircraft, the F-16s followed it until it landed without incident," the North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement.

The statement said the plane was met by local law enforcement after it landed at 9:50 a.m. PDT/1650 GMT. Obama had been scheduled to fly out of Los Angeles at around 10:15 a.m. PDT/1715 GMT en route to Nevada, according to a schedule posted on the White House website.

Lieutenant Dan Burlingham of the El Monte police said Secret Service agents questioned the pilot after he landed at that city's airport and determined there was no threat to the president.

The fundraiser Obama attended raised nearly $15 million. About 150 people paid $40,000 a ticket to see the president at Clooney's home.

The interception came three months after fighters scrambled to redirect a small plane loaded with 22 pounds of marijuana that wandered into airspace around Obama's helicopter in Los Angeles in February. The Secret Service determined there was no apparent intent to harm Obama.

(Reporting By Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Greg McCune and Stacey Joyce)