An F-15 fighter jet intercepted a civilian aircraft as it was entering restricted airspace in New York City Wednesday, with President Joe Biden in town to address the United Nations, The North American Aerospace Defense Command says.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it has launched an investigation and will take appropriate enforcement action.
NORAD says it tried to communicate with the civilian pilot, who was flying a Cessna 172, a single-engine private plane, but the pilot didn't respond to radio calls. The F-15 responded when the Cessna was about 20 nautical miles east of Manhattan, and the latter entered the restricted zone around 11:40 a.m. It was escorted out in less than 20 minutes.
The FAA says the flight departed from Long Island's MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma. While it doesn't release details of ongoing investigations, generally speaking, pilots who violate restricted flight zones can face sanctions ranging from warnings to license suspensions or revocations. The sanctions are circumstance-dependent.
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There was no indication of malintent from NORAD, which monitors aircraft as part of its aerospace warning and control missions for the United States and Canada. NORAD tracks Santa, too, so you've likely heard of it before.
It's a binational command focused on defending both the U.S. and Canada utilizing forces from the two countries.