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Aviator accidently enters restricted airspace during presidential visit

August 17, 2011, 10:34 am

Myrtle Rose, a 75-year-old pilot, was surprised by two F-16 fighter jets while flying roughly 30 miles away from Chicago's O'Hare Airport. She thought the Air Force pilots were circling her to admire her antique 1941 Piper J-3. After landing, however, she quickly learned otherwise.

The episode occurred during President Barack Obama's visit to the city, and though Rose was flying through airspace she frequented, the region was restricted at the time of the visit. Shortly after landing and putting her aircraft into the hanger, Rose's location was swarmed with police.

Scrambling the two F-16 jets costs about $9,000 an hour. "There's really no excuse for not knowing," Lt. Colonel Mike Humphreys, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said.

Rose filled out a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) incident report and described how she thought the jets were circling to inspect her antique plane. FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory stated the investigation would likely take a number of weeks, and penalties could range from no action to fines or a suspension of Rose's license.

Aviators always need to be aware of their surroundings and ensure their intended flight paths don't enter restricted airspace. All flight enthusiasts can benefit from life insurance for pilots.

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