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Mon, Feb 11, 2008

Border Pilot Buzzed By F-16s

Police Say Plane Crossed Into US From Mexico

An ardent critic of current US immigration polices recently experienced firsthand what it's like to see an F-16 off your wing.

On January 15, Glenn Spencer was flying from El Paso in a Cessna 206, in a surveillance flight as head of the privately-operated American Border Patrol. About eight miles east of Douglas, AZ, his aircraft apparently triggered security alarms... and two F-16s from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

According to a report by the Bisbee (AZ) Police Department, Spencer's aircraft crossed into Arizona from Mexico illegally. "Contact was to be made with the pilot and he was to call the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Command Center. Two air fighters were launched from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base," the report stated, according to the Sierra Vista Herald.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Spencer has turned the incident into a rallying cry for his cause. "I was monitoring the progress of the government in securing our border, and I was intercepted by an F-16!" He added he was descending at the time from about 8,000 feet, and it's possible his aircraft strayed into Mexican airspace before coming back into US airspace.

Spencer adds he was surprised by the buzzing F-16s, one of which he claims "made two passes within 100 feet of me!" He’s been flying his own monitoring missions along the US-Mexico border for 18 months, stating, "I do it all the time."

He also maintains he was squawking the right code, and stayed in radio contact with regional flight authorities, such as Libby Army Airfield on Fort Huachuca.

Most of the amateur surveilling Spencer and his crews perform involves using high-definition cameras to watch fence construction. The American Border Patrol then compiles notes and comparisons using Google Earth into reports made available to any interested party, including Congress.



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