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F-16 fighter jet intercepted airplane in restricted airspace over OC during Biden speech

A single-engine Cessna airplane was intercepted by an F-16 fighter jet with the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s continental U.S. region after entering restricted airspace over Orange County while President Joe Biden gave a speech at Irvine Valley College last week, authorities said.

NORAD fighters became aware of the airplane as it flew above the Santa Ana area about 3:10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, NORAD officials said in a news release. Biden was speaking about 12 miles away.

NORAD fighters attempted to contact the pilot by radio and when the pilot didn’t respond, they “dispensed flares to gain the attention of the general aviation aircraft, which is standard procedure used to communicate with pilots,” NORAD officials said.

Flight mapping on FlightAware showed the Cessna pilot took off from Kingman, Ariz. The pilot was in the restricted airspace about four minutes before turning around and landing in Chino at shortly before 3:30 p.m.

The plane was registered to a Torrance address and FlightAware showed another flight Sunday from Chino to Zamperini Field in Torrance.

A Secret Service spokesperson told CBS that the agency was aware of the incident and the president’s schedule went uninterrupted.

Two F-16 fighter jets under the direction of NORAD also intercepted a general aviation aircraft that flew into a restricted airspace over Los Angeles around 12:40 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, NORAD officials said.

That aircraft also landed without incident.

Temporary flight restrictions are almost always in place wherever the president travels.

Maj. Andrew Scott of NORAD said security concerns keep him from disclosing how often planes are intercepted.

“Is it common? No,” he said. “But is it uncommon? Also no.”

NORAD has identified and intercepted potential air threats to North America for more than 60 years, officials said.

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