Small aircraft enter Camp David airspace over weekend

Monday, July 1, 2002

WASHINGTON -- At least three small airplanes intruded into airspace over Camp David this weekend while President Bush was at the mountain retreat in Maryland, including one escorted to a nearby airport by fighter jets, the Secret Service said Sunday.

Spokesman Jim Mackin said Secret Service agents questioned the pilots of all three planes -- one of them an ultralight -- determined the intrusions were inadvertent and took no action against them beyond referring the cases to the Federal Aviation Administration for possible administrative action.

He said a fourth plane -- also an ultralight -- possibly was involved in a Saturday intrusion over Camp David, but that plane was not located after it left the area where it was being tracked.

In addition, Mackin said a small plane momentarily penetrated the very edge of restricted airspace around Washington on Sunday before veering back onto an approved course and continuing on its way.

Mackin estimated that at least a couple of dozen incidents have occurred around Camp David and Washington since Sept. 11, although most have gone unreported and have not resulted in fighter jets being scrambled.

Military jets respond

One of the two weekend incidents that resulted in planes being scrambled involved an intrusion at Camp David at 9:50 a.m. Saturday, less than three hours after Bush had undergone a routine colon screening and was getting ready for a walk.

There was no indication of any threat to the president, nor whether he was aware of the intrusion.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said the Beech A-23 aircraft was intercepted Saturday morning by F-16s at 4,500 feet about 15 miles from Frederick, Md., and escorted to the Winchester Regional Airport just south of Camp David in Virginia.

The pilot and passenger were questioned at the airport by Secret Service agents and allowed to continue on, FAA spokesman Hank Price said.

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