U.S. fighter jets intercepted a small private plane near Los Angeles after it entered airspace closed for a visit by President Barack Obama, according to a North American Aerospace Defense Command statement.
The Piper PA-28 plane landed at 9:50 a.m. local time, about five minutes after two F-16s flew alongside it, NORAD said on its website. The single-engine plane touched down at El Monte Airport, Lieutenant Dan Burlingham of the El Monte Police Department said in a phone interview.
U.S. Secret Service agents interviewed the man, who was a student pilot, and released him after determining that he hadn’t intended to threaten the president, Max Milien, an agency spokesman, said in a telephone interview.
The pilot ventured into a so-called Temporary Flight Restriction area, a zone where flights are banned for brief periods to ensure the president’s safety, Milien said. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration identifies these areas on its website and issues notices to local pilots about the restrictions.
Obama attended three campaign fundraisers on the West Coast, including one at the home of actor George Clooney.
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