Plane escorted to LI airport was no threat

Fighter jets escorted a small plane to Long Fighter jets escorted a small plane to Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma after it flew over airspace that was temporarily restricted due to a presidential visit, authorities said. (Aug. 6, 2012) Photo Credit: Stringer News Service

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The pilot of a small plane that landed at Long Island MacArthur Airport Monday escorted by two F-15 fighter jets wasn't a security threat, according to the U.S. Secret Service.

Robert Engel, spokesman for the agency's New York Field Office, said Tuesday that the pilot didn't know about President Barack Obama's visit Monday evening that temporarily restricted some airspace. Obama's plane had landed at Kennedy Airport ahead of a campaign stop in Connecticut.

"This was something that was not a security issue or security threat to the president," Engel said.

The pilot, who was not identified by the Secret Service, flew the plane into air space restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration as a security precaution, Engel said.

The plane -- called a Kitfox and home-built from a kit -- flew over Long Island about 6:30 p.m. when the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, scrambled two F-15 jets from the Barnes Air National Guard base in Massachusetts. With the fighter jet escort, the small plane landed without incident at MacArthur about 7 p.m. and was met by local police.

Agents from the Melville Secret Service office interviewed the pilot, Engel said.

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Suffolk police Tuesday referred questions to the FAA.

Engel said he knew of no connection between the plane that landed at MacArthur and a second aircraft that was intercepted about 7:30 p.m. Monday near New Haven, Conn., and flying in a airspace off limits because of the president's visit. That aircraft was allowed to proceed to its destination, NORAD said in a statement.

Pilots violating temporary airspace restrictions can face penalties imposed by the FAA, including pilots license revocation.

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