A Cessna 172 pilot flew into restricted airspace near Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Saturday while President Joe Biden was there. Secret Service agents quickly moved the president to a more secure location until they determined no threat was presented.
Two F-15 fighter jets and an MH-65 helicopter were sent to investigate the single-engine aircraft. It was reportedly not in communication with air traffic controllers and the pilot did not file a flight plan, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement.
While recommended for search-and-rescue purposes, pilots who fly using Visual Flight Rules are not required to file a flight plan. Cessna 172s have graced U.S. skies since the 1950s and Saturday was a clear day on the beach. The pilot’s biggest error was most likely not checking the Federal Aviation Administration Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) website.
The Notice provides alerts about airspace that is closed, restricted or dangerous to allow pilots to find a different flight path before they reach the area. If weather conditions, for example, are supposed to get extremely bad, that may cause a pilot to delay a flight until better weather patterns appear.
The unaware pilot who began a low-level flight above the beach ended up in hot water that will probably prove costly to the aviator.
“Shortly before 1 p.m. today a privately owned aircraft entered the restricted airspace over Rehoboth Delaware after mistakenly entering a secured area,” U.S. Secret Service said Saturday. “The aircraft was immediately escorted out of the restricted airspace.”
“Preliminary investigation reveals the pilot was not on the proper radio channel, was not following the NOTAM that had been filed and was not following published flight guidance,” agents explained. The statement added that the Secret Service will interview the pilot of the private plane.
“Precautionary measures were taken,” a White House official said, according to a CBS News report. “There was no threat to the President or his family.”
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