Fighter jet intercepts small planes during Obama’s visit to Chicago

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS (BNO NEWS) -- An F-16 fighter jet intercepted two small planes Saturday after they entered airspace which has been temporarily closed for a visit by President Barack Obama, officials said on Sunday, less than a week after a similar incident in the New York area.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said the two separate incidents happened in the Chicago area at approximately 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT), just a few hours after Air Force One landed at O'Hare International Airport. Details such as the type of aircraft or the number of people on board were not released by authorities.

An F-16 fighter jet intercepted both aircraft and followed it until it landed without incident, NORAD said in a brief statement. Both pilots were met by law enforcement and questioned why they strayed into the restricted airspace. Other details were not immediately released, but both incidents are believed to have been accidental.

Obama had no public events on Saturday but arrived in Chicago to attend five separate campaign events on Sunday.

Earlier this week, on August 6, two F-15 fighter jets also intercepted two small airplanes when they entered restricted airspace during a visit by Obama to Connecticut and New York. The first incident happened over Long Island where some airspace was closed because Air Force One was stationed at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The second incident happened about half an hour later when a small aircraft flew into temporary restricted airspace near New Haven in Connecticut. It happened when Obama was delivering remarks for his re-election campaign at the Stamford Marriott Hotel in Stamford, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southwest of New Haven.

NORAD is tasked to prevent air attacks against North America and safeguard the sovereign airspaces of both the United States and Canada by responding to unauthorized air activity in or near these airspace. The organization is allowed to monitor, shadow, divert from flight path, direct to land and even destroy targets which are deemed to be a security threat to North America.

Last month, two Canadian CF-18 fighter jets intercepted a Sunwing Airlines Boeing 767-300 near Quebec City after the plane failed to respond to radio communications. The fighter jets were able to assist the aircraft in re-establishing radio communications with air traffic control, and the airliner then proceeded to its destination without incident. It was on a flight from Paris to Toronto.

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