F-16 fighters intercept pot-laden Cessna in Obama’s airspace
LOS ANGELES — Two F-16 fighters were scrambled Thursday to intercept a light aircraft over Los Angeles, during a visit by President Barack Obama for a fundraising trip, officials said.
The military jets scrambled out of March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, “to respond to a temporary flight restriction violation by a Cessna 182 aircraft over Los Angeles,” said a NORAD statement.
“After intercepting the aircraft, the F-16s followed it until it landed without incident at approximately 12:30 pm MST, where the plane was met by local law enforcement,” said the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Edwin Donovan, a spokesman for the United States Secret Service, told AFP: “I can confirm that a plane entered the airspace of Marine One, the restricted airspace, and then was landed at Long Beach airport.
“The occupants were held by local authorities until agents could respond to interview them, and it was determined that there was no protective interest,” meaning there was no threat to Obama, he said.
Police discovered the plane was loaded with about 40 pounds of marijuana.
Obama flew in and out of LA on Thursday for a fundraiser in Newport Beach, south of the city. Later in the day he was in San Francisco, also raising funds for his re-election campaign.
Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping also arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday, an hour or two after the light aircraft incident, on the latest leg of a trip which has already taken him to Washington and Iowa.
Xi arrived shortly ahead of schedule at Los Angeles international airport, where there were no reports of disruption to normal commercial services.