The U.S. Capitol and White House were briefly evacuated Wednesday after a small plane entered restricted airspace over the city. Security officials in several other government buildings, including the Treasury Department and the U.S. Supreme Court, ordered people to safer locations.
President Bush was away from the White House, biking at a Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Beltsville, Md. Congressional leaders were moved from the Capitol.
A small Cessna aircraft breached the security zone over Washington, several law enforcement officials said, prompting alerts across the city. The plane was approached by a fighter aircraft and veered away, according to a &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2001/09/17/15378.html ' target=_blank>Federal Aviation Administration official speaking on condition of anonymity, reports ABC News.
According to the USA Today, the incident began at 11:28 a.m., when Federal Aviation Administration radar picked up the aircraft, a single-entine, two-seater Cessna 150, officials said. The aircraft breached the security zone over Washington, law enforcement officials said, prompting alerts across the city.
Officials said said the first alert went out when the plane was 21 miles — 17 minutes — from the city. Two Black Hawk helicopters were dispatched at 11:55 a.m. from &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2001/11/13/20848.html ' target=_blank>Reagan National Airport, according to an FAA official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The plane was also approached by two F-16 fighter aircraft, scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base. They fired four warning flares. The military aircraft escorted the plane to the Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick, Md.
Two unidentified men were being held by Maryland state police at the airport in Frederick. The plane was registered to the Vintage Aero Club in the Lancaster County city of Smoketown, Pa.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters that the security level at the White House was raised to yellow at 11:59 a.m., when the plane was within 10 miles of the White House. It went to "red" — the highest level — four minutes later when the plane was detected only three miles away, McClellan said. The threat level was reduced at 12:11 p.m. as the plane turned west, he said.
"We don't know the exact details of why the plane was traveling in the restricted airspace at this point...it's being investigated. Let's see what the facts are," McClellan said.
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