AOPA Chief Says It's A Wonder How This Happened
"I don't understand how those pilots from the Lancaster, PA,
area could fly into [Washington] area without being aware that we
have some of the most restrictive airspace possible."
Those words from Phil Boyer, interviewed on CNN Wednesday, just
hours after a Cessna 150K made a deep incursion into the
Washington, DC ADIZ, coming within three miles of the White House.
The incursion forced the evacuation of the White House, Supreme
Court, Capitol and Treasury Department.
On board were Troy Martin, a student, and his instructor, Jim
Schaeffer. Boyer told CNN at least one of the two men on board was
an AOPA member.
The Cessna 150K was forced to land at Frederick, home of AOPA
headquarters. Martin and Schaeffer were immediately taken into
custody and questioned by federal agents.
"Now, in defense... of pilots who do incur the outer ring [of
the ADIZ], you can get lost. You can get disoriented. You can think
of driving a car. You got on a street -- now you start turning --
now all the streets start looking alike. And remember, we're doing
this without radio contact because the areas these people were
flying in to start with, and apparently where they were going to
end up, in North Carolina, were all places you could fly without
What about the possibility Martin and Schaeffer might have been
"Very valid," said Boyer. "There are surface-to-air missiles now
stationed around the nation's capital. But at the same time, if we
shine a light on this that has any glow to it at all, is that the
government system worked. They tracked this plane, without radio
contact, they intercepted this airplane with flares and finally got
their attention. I'm sure that they tried to do so much earlier.
Then they probably assessed that this is a two-seater airplane,
single-engine, with two adults in it. It barely carries the fuel to
get even halfway to North Carolina. They probably made the
calculated decision: Let's not do this."
Boyer, in his interview with CNN, pointed out a 1994 suicide
attempt, when a Cessna 152 crashed onto the grounds of the White
House. Damage to the building was negligible. In other words, a
Cessna 150 or 152 just doesn't pose that much of a threat to the
seat of government.