Mon, May 17, 2010
Ultralight Entered Arizona From Mexico
It was probably the last thing the pilot of an untralight
aircraft expected, or maybe wanted, to see when he crossed the U.S.
Border from Mexico into Arizona early Sunday. Two NORAD F-16's were
scrembled to intercept the ultralight, and shadowed it for about
half an hour before it returned to Mexican airspace.
In a news release, NORAD said the F-16's launched form Davis
Monthan AFB for the intercept early Sunday morning. "Upon
intercepting the aircraft, the F-16s shadowed the aircraft for 30
minutes until it turned and flew back into Mexico," said NORAD Lt.
Cmdr. Gary Ross. "The F-16s returned to base."
Television station KGUN reports that just the day before, U.S.
Representative Gabrielle Giffords told reporters in Tucson that she
was co-sponsoring legislation that would focus specifically on
ultralight aircraft, which she said are being used more frequently
in the drug trade between the U.S. and Mexico. Should her bill
become law, a smuggler using an ultralight to carry drugs would
face a 20 year prison sentence and a quarter million dollar fine.
"These smugglers use small, low-flying aircraft to deliver their
illicit contraband into our country," she said. "But because of a
legal loophole, they cannot be prosecuted to the fullest extent of
the law. My legislation will fix this problem."
A local flight instructor says that not all of the planes being
used to smuggle drugs are ultralights. Some, H.L. Cooper told the
station, are actually LSAs or "unregistered experimental" aircraft.
He said if it came to a court case, and the aircraft weighed in
over 250 pounds, the case could be tossed out on a
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