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Drug smugglers make wrong turning


David Usborne
Saturday 18 February 2012 01:00 GMT

The pilot of a small Cessna aircraft was doubtless hoping to remain under the radar, figuratively if not literally, as he puttered gently from central California to the Pacific coast on Thursday morning because of what he had on board – 22lb of marijuana.

The less people noticed him the better.

Still, it would have been smart if he had picked up when air traffic repeatedly attempted to radio him as he approached the coastline. The message was urgent: he was entering airspace reserved temporarily for Marine One, the presidential helicopter reserved for Barack Obama, who was travelling through the area on his way to a fundraiser. He needed to change course immediately.

We don't know if the radio was off or if the pilot just chose not to answer out of paranoia. In any event, his hopes of remaining unnoticed were dashed when two F-16 fighter jets scrambled from a nearby airbase drew up, wiggled their wings and forced him to land.

Police officials last night withheld details of the aviator, who at the least faces having his plane and, of course, its cargo confiscated.

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