Fighters intercept planes over Connecticut

7 Aug

This afternoon and evening, President Obama was in Connecticut for campaign events in Westport and Stamford. As is typical, a “no fly zone” was established around the areas he would be in for the duration of the visit. It read, in part, like this:

NEW YORK, NEW YORK TO STAMFORD/WESTPORT, CONNECTICUT, AUGUST 6, 2012 LOCAL. PURSUANT TO 49 USC 40103(B), THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) CLASSIFIES THE AIRSPACE DEFINED IN THIS NOTAM AS NATIONAL DEFENSE AIRSPACE’. PILOTS WHO DO NOT ADHERE TO THE FOLLOWING PROCEDURES MAY BE INTERCEPTED, DETAINED AND INTERVIEWED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT/SECURITY PERSONNEL.

And included other bits, like this:

 C) THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT MAY USE DEADLY FORCE AGAINST THE AIRBORNE AIRCRAFT, IF IT IS DETERMINED THAT THE AIRCRAFT POSES AN IMMINENT SECURITY THREAT.

At times the President has a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) overhead, but other times, fighters are standing by on the ground nearby. When the President visits New England, F-15’s from the 104th  Fighter Wing in Massachusetts are ready to scramble from Westfield/Barnes airport and intercept potential security threats. These are the same jets that are kept at the ready to intercept any potential threats in the area.

Sometime just before 8:00 PM local time, a small aircraft (a Kitfox Sport) with tail number N725CE entered the area designated as National Defense Airspace. Prior to entering this area, the aircraft will be hailed on an emergency frequency, and warned to turn away. Several warnings are typically given, and they typically include distance from the restricted area, and the fastest way away from it. N725CE likely did not hear the warnings, and probably wasn’t aware of the restricted airspace, and must have proceeded past the boundary. At some point, a decision would have been made to scramble F-15’s to intercept the small plane. You can listen to them take off from Barnes here:

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The intercept aircraft, call signs SLAM31 and SLAM32, are directed by NORAD to their target, which is referred to as the ‘TOI’ – Target of Interest. When the fighters launched, N725CE was approximately 80 miles away from them. The F-15’s covered this distance in six minutes, going supersonic in order to reach the target before it came within striking distance of the President. Once they identified the plane, the fighters used a series of visual signals to order the pilot to establish communications and/or follow them to a designated landing site. N725CE was escorted by the jets to Long Island MacArthur Airport, where he was ordered to park on a remote taxiway. The pilot was taken into custody by airport law enforcement and held until United States Secret Service officers arrived on scene to take him into custody and interview him. You can listen to the radio communications between the pilot, tower, and airport law enforcement here:
Part 1

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Part 2

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A second plane was then also intercepted by the same flight of F-15’s.

Paul Shea, Aaron Perry, and Brian D’Amico contributed to this story. All audio is courtesy of LiveATC.

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One Response to “Fighters intercept planes over Connecticut”

  1. från engelska till svenska August 7, 2012 at 5:24 am #

    They really mean what they wrote there.
    They cannot take any chances today we all remember Set. 11th!

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