NORAD dispatches F-16s to intercept DC airspace violation

F-16 fighters buzzed above D.C. on Saturday, in response to an unknown aircraft defense officials say flew into the capital region’s airspace without proper clearance.

A single-engine, civilian aircraft that was not communicating with air traffic controllers entered into the Special Rules Flight Area that surrounds D.C. around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint American and Canadian operation protecting the skies in both countries from its Colorado headquarters.

NORAD said it dispatched two F-16 fighter jets to intercept the aircraft. Moments later, several WTOP listeners reported jets flying low over Gaithersburg and Rockville in Maryland.

“As part of NORAD’s homeland defense efforts, NORAD aircraft responded, but prior to intercept, the civilian pilot established positive communications and immediately landed at the nearest airport,” NORAD spokesman Major Mark Lazane said in a statement, remarking the event was resolved without incident.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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