Plane scare leads to evacuation of White House

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The Independent US

In a brief but nerve-jangling security scare, F-16 fighters were scrambled and emergency evacuations ordered at the White House and Congress yesterday, after a small aircraft penetrated deep into restricted airspace above Washington.

In a brief but nerve-jangling security scare, F-16 fighters were scrambled and emergency evacuations ordered at the White House and Congress yesterday, after a small aircraft penetrated deep into restricted airspace above Washington.

The incident began around 11.48am. local time when a Cessna 152 entered the 25-mile no-fly zone, apparently en route from a Pennsylvania to an air show in North Carolina.

The plane, flying at a bare 100mph ignored warnings from air traffic controllers and approached to within three miles of the White House. Only when the two F-16 jets came up on its wings shortly after noon and fired warning flares did the Cessna change course to the west, eventually landing at an airport in Maryland, 35 miles from the capital, under escort by a Black Hawk helicopter.

The two people aboard, understood to be the pilot and a flight student, were taken into custody and questioned by police.

Last night, any terrorist motive was being discounted. But, on the ground, no chances were taken - even though the most recent scare last month involved what ended up being a cloud wrongly identified as an incoming possibly hostile aircraft or missile.

For eight minutes, the terror alert was raised to the highest level of red. The Capitol and the White House were evacuated.

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