Two F-15 fighter jets intercepted two small airplanes that strayed into President Barack Obama's airspace during a campaign visit to Connecticut and New York on Monday, military officials said. One of the pilots was questioned by local law enforcement.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said the first incident happened at approximately 7 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) when a small experimental aircraft entered airspace over Long Island which had been temporarily closed because Air Force One was stationed at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The fighter jets intercepted the small aircraft and escorted it to Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, where it landed without incident. The pilot was questioned by local law enforcement, but it was not immediately clear why the plane had strayed into the restricted airspace.
The second incident happened about half an hour later, at 7:30 p.m. EDT, when another small aircraft flew into temporary restricted airspace near New Haven in Connecticut. It happened when Obama was delivering remarks for his re-election campaign at the Stamford Marriott Hotel in Stamford, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of New Haven.
Authorities said the second aircraft was allowed to proceed to its destination after it was intercepted, but gave no other details.
NORAD is tasked to prevent air attacks against North America and safeguard the sovereign airspaces of both the United States and Canada by responding to unauthorized air activity in or near these airspace. The organization is allowed to monitor, shadow, divert from flight path, direct to land and even destroy targets which are deemed to be a security threat to North America.
On Saturday, two F-16 fighter jets intercepted a small Beechcraft King Air airplane when it approached the Washington Metropolitan Area and failed to respond to repeated radio communications. The aircraft was intercepted and allowed to proceed to its destination after radio communications with air traffic control were re-established.
And last month, two Canadian CF-18 fighter jets intercepted a Sunwing Airlines Boeing 767-300 near Quebec City after the plane failed to respond to radio communications. The fighter jets were able to assist the aircraft in re-establishing radio communications with air traffic control, and the airliner then proceeded to its destination without incident. It was on a flight from Paris to Toronto.