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Military Was Set To Down Cessna(Rummy gave approval)
Washington Post ^ | 05/24/05 | Spencer S. Hsu and John Mintz

Posted on 05/25/2005 9:19:16 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster

Military Was Set To Down Cessna

Authority Granted As Plane Strayed Deep Into Capital

By Spencer S. Hsu and John Mintz Washington Post Staff Writers Wednesday, May 25, 2005; Page A01

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld gave military officials the authority to shoot down, if necessary, a small plane that wandered into restricted airspace over the nation's capital May 11, according to two senior federal officials.

For 11 intense minutes, customs aircraft and military fighter jets tried to intercept the Cessna 150 and determine whether the pilots were confused and lost or were targeting Washington. Military officials never deemed the aircraft to be hostile, but White House and U.S. Capitol officials grew more concerned as it flew within three miles of the executive mansion.

The plane, one of the federal officials said, came within "15 to 20 seconds" of being downed before its pilots finally heeded repeated orders to turn away from the city.

The new details, also corroborated yesterday by a senior federal law enforcement official briefed on events, came as U.S. military and homeland security officials review the effectiveness of an air defense system established for the Washington area after the 2001 terrorist attacks. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because much of the air defense system is classified.

As authorities piece together the lessons of the scare -- described by some officials as the closest the government has come to downing a civilian plane over Washington since Sept. 11, 2001 -- they are confronting sensitive issues involving split-second decisions, communications and the federal chain of command.

(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...


TOPICS: Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: District of Columbia
KEYWORDS: capital; cessna; dod; evacuation; noflyzone; rumsfeld; shootdown

1 posted on 05/25/2005 9:19:18 AM PDT by TigerLikesRooster
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To: TigerLikesRooster
If those idiots had been shot down it would have been all their fault.

Yet it would not surprise me if they sue the government.

2 posted on 05/25/2005 9:25:32 AM PDT by wideawake (God bless our brave troops and their Commander-in-Chief)
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To: wideawake

"...Yet it would not surprise me if they sue the government."


Of course they would, so would who ever the wreckage landed on. DC folks area always looking for that lawsuit that will have them set for life.


3 posted on 05/25/2005 9:27:46 AM PDT by tfecw (Vote Democrat, It's easier than working)
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To: TigerLikesRooster
In another story:

'I thought we were going to be shot out of the sky'

No kidding. I wonder what Einstein's first clue was.

4 posted on 05/25/2005 9:29:17 AM PDT by martin_fierro (_____oooo_( )_oooo_____)
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To: TigerLikesRooster

I've got a problem with the SecDef approving this....it should be the President's call.


5 posted on 05/25/2005 9:30:27 AM PDT by SC_Republican
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To: martin_fierro

"In another story:

'I thought we were going to be shot out of the sky'"

The mere fact that he is still here to make the essence of this statement shows that intelligent men of character made the decision NOT to pull the trigger yet even when they had the authority to do so.

Sort of makes you wonder about reporters and editors, doesn't it?


6 posted on 05/25/2005 9:33:56 AM PDT by righttackle44 (The most dangerous weapon in the world is a Marine with his rifle and the American people behind him)
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To: wideawake

The student pilot is not responsible for any of this. Only 30 hours? You have a lot of trust in an instructor at that point believe me. The Pilot in Command was not even current to carry passengers. You need 3 take offs and landings in the previous 90 days. He was violating federal aviation regulations the second they starting taxiing.
I dont know what this guys story is but he should never get his pilots certificate back. He has zero excuse for this. None.


7 posted on 05/25/2005 9:59:18 AM PDT by Names Ash Housewares
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To: Names Ash Housewares
He has zero excuse for this. None.

Give him the boom-stick.

8 posted on 05/25/2005 10:19:51 AM PDT by wideawake (God bless our brave troops and their Commander-in-Chief)
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To: SC_Republican

There should be clear ROE in place so that the GCI officer would give the order.


9 posted on 05/25/2005 10:22:29 AM PDT by struwwelpeter
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To: wideawake

"Give him the boom-stick."


heh heh, hopefully the total humiliation as a pilot is worse.


10 posted on 05/25/2005 10:26:27 AM PDT by Names Ash Housewares
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To: wideawake

"Woulda been their fault"... Yup, all their fault. The Blackhawk intercepting the 150 signaled them to switch to frequency 121.5, only that frequency was being blocked by an ELT going off. Then to another frequency, except there was nobody monitoring that one either. Kinda like the cops telling a suspect "flap your arms and fly or we'll shoot".


11 posted on 05/25/2005 11:05:08 AM PDT by diogenes ghost
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To: diogenes ghost

Everyone in America knows that it's not a good idea to fly close to national landmarks without permission.


12 posted on 05/25/2005 11:06:55 AM PDT by wideawake (God bless our brave troops and their Commander-in-Chief)
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To: wideawake

"All their fault"...And, supposing they had shot it down, do you believe the frequency problems would ever have been revealed by the Feds? When pigs fly, maybe.


13 posted on 05/25/2005 11:09:04 AM PDT by diogenes ghost
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To: wideawake

These were not highly experienced pilots, and I assume they were using hand-held GPS for navigation. Please tell me why shooting them down woulda been OK, but the Soviets shootdown of KAL (navigated by highly trained seasoned professionals using state-of-the-art avionics was not OK.


14 posted on 05/25/2005 11:14:34 AM PDT by diogenes ghost
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To: SC_Republican
I've got a problem with the SecDef approving this....it should be the President's call.

I don't. He is the Secretary of Defense.

15 posted on 05/25/2005 11:18:13 AM PDT by Coop (In memory of a true hero - Pat Tillman)
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To: diogenes ghost
Please tell me why shooting them down woulda been OK, but the Soviets shootdown of KAL (navigated by highly trained seasoned professionals using state-of-the-art avionics was not OK.

KAL was a commercial airliner.

This was a Cessna which could well have contained a bomb intended for the WH.

BTW, I was unaware that KAL actually got within a few miles of the Kremlin. I thought it flew over sparsely-populated Sakhalin Island on the ouer edge of the Soviet Empire. Thanks for the info.

16 posted on 05/25/2005 11:25:51 AM PDT by wideawake (God bless our brave troops and their Commander-in-Chief)
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To: wideawake

Sparsely populated Sakhalin Island? Well, yeah, most military bases are that way. Review the article, it clearly states the military did NOT consider the 150 a threat - that posture was pushed by WH & DHS functionaries on the ground. The no-fly zone around DC is busted twice a day, on average, so why is this piss-ant of an aircraft getting so many panties in a wad?


17 posted on 05/25/2005 11:34:22 AM PDT by diogenes ghost
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To: SC_Republican
I've got a problem with the SecDef approving this....it should be the President's call.

I suspect that nobody needs to make the call as it's probably a standing order to shooot down anything that gets within a certain distance of the WH.

18 posted on 05/25/2005 11:35:59 AM PDT by 1Old Pro
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To: diogenes ghost
I assume they were using hand-held GPS for navigation.

Do not assume that. If they had been using GPS, they would have known where they were, and known to avoid DC altogether. They were using maps, and whatever navigation instruments the 150 had on board (VOR, NDB, but probably none).

As stated, the Military did not perceive them as a threat, which was the right call in this case. THey would have done their job, to be sure, but having permission to act and being ordered to act are two different things.

Given the incident and the fortunate outcome, I would not fly outside of the local area without my Garmin GPS and my ICOM A5.

19 posted on 05/25/2005 11:36:32 AM PDT by Mr. Quarterpanel (I am not an actor, but I play one on TV)
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To: TigerLikesRooster

Thank God for the professionalism of the military pilot. No shooting, no downed wreckage, no rounds going downrange, and no lifelong memory of blasting a couple of fools into oblilvion.

Does anybody else think some recognition is in order?


20 posted on 05/25/2005 11:44:35 AM PDT by SBprone
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To: TigerLikesRooster

Is Rumsfeld planning to A-OK the blowing up of any truck greater than 2 tons that enters the Washington DC area? These trucks are more of a threat than Cessnas with a 500 pound carrying capacity.


21 posted on 05/25/2005 11:46:55 AM PDT by xrp (Fox News Channel should rename itself the Missing Persons Network)
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To: diogenes ghost
Very much the instructors fault.

There are established intercept signals that are in the regulations, and the instructor should have been aware of them. These com-out signals are designed to deal with NORDO situations. (And not knowing where you are and where you are going and not being able to hear/transmit on the radio--allegedly--then the instructor should have used his certified judgment and followed intercept procedures.
22 posted on 05/25/2005 11:47:35 AM PDT by Gunrunner2
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To: SBprone
Does anybody else think some recognition is in order?

Don't worry. The gallant flyboy has been strutting his "right stuff" on the news/talk show circuit.

23 posted on 05/25/2005 11:47:40 AM PDT by xrp (Fox News Channel should rename itself the Missing Persons Network)
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To: xrp
I'd not say "strut."

Guy flew a mission and everyone is curious and you can bet the pilot doesn't want to be there. . .talking about intercepting some pokey C-150. . .sheesh. No challenge at all. Bet the PR folks at DoD pushed his interviews, and I can understand why. People are curious.

"Gallant"? What is with you. . .the guy that was doing his mission. . .I hope you are joking.
24 posted on 05/25/2005 11:53:21 AM PDT by Gunrunner2
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To: diogenes ghost
These were not highly experienced pilots, and I assume they were using hand-held GPS for navigation.

Is that legal now? (I am making reference to GA generally, not this particular flight). In the past, the FAA would not have permitted a pilot to make navigational decisions based on a consumer device like that, although he could have carried one for confirmation. (a lot could have changed in the 15 years I have been away).

25 posted on 05/25/2005 11:59:57 AM PDT by steve86
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To: Gunrunner2

I guess you haven't seen him on TV yet.


26 posted on 05/25/2005 12:08:07 PM PDT by xrp (Fox News Channel should rename itself the Missing Persons Network)
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To: xrp
Actually. .caught a little of it.

NO big deal. . .but I guess many might be intimidated/jealous of an average fighter pilot and be unable to handle the ease in which an average fighter pilot expresses himself with competence and confidence. No mealy-mouth whimps allowed.

Show of hands. . .how many wanted to grow up and be a fighter pilot?. . .whoa. . .now, show of hands of everyone that wanted to grow up to sell insurance? How about work in a boring nine-to-five office? Anyone? (*crickets*)
27 posted on 05/25/2005 12:24:08 PM PDT by Gunrunner2
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To: Gunrunner2
but I guess many might be intimidated/jealous of an average fighter pilot

I'm sorry that you feel intimidated.

28 posted on 05/25/2005 12:39:42 PM PDT by xrp (Fox News Channel should rename itself the Missing Persons Network)
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To: SC_Republican; Coop

The President made the call, and that was to delegate the decision to his authorized agent, Secretary Rumsfeld.

That's how things are supposed to work, IMHO.


29 posted on 05/25/2005 12:46:19 PM PDT by thoughtomator (The U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government)
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To: SC_Republican

'I've got a problem with the SecDef approving this....it should be the President's call.'

Why? He is the first civilian in the CofC. And the only one besides the President.


30 posted on 05/25/2005 1:06:40 PM PDT by xone
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To: xrp

Yeah. . .they scare me to death. . *snicker*


31 posted on 05/25/2005 1:06:47 PM PDT by Gunrunner2
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To: TigerLikesRooster

Sec. Rumsfeld denies the Times report.


32 posted on 05/25/2005 1:07:48 PM PDT by subrosa sam (subrosasam)
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To: Gunrunner2

hehe ;-)


33 posted on 05/25/2005 1:09:15 PM PDT by xrp (Fox News Channel should rename itself the Missing Persons Network)
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To: xrp

Oh. . .great. . now you got me giggling like a little girl

;-)


34 posted on 05/25/2005 1:10:57 PM PDT by Gunrunner2
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To: Gunrunner2

Very rare to find a private pilot, especially two inexperienced ones, who are familiar with military intercept proceedures. They DID try to communicate on 121.5 & another freq, to no avail (not their fault). Sure, they screwed up, but it should not have been the big deal it became.


35 posted on 05/25/2005 2:18:18 PM PDT by diogenes ghost
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To: BearWash

Well, VFR pilots are supposed to use sectional charts for pilotage, but GPS makes it so damned simple. Not illegal for VFR flight, but a cautious pilot would use both. Cutting corners is something we all do every day, rarely does it bite you in the arse.


36 posted on 05/25/2005 2:22:13 PM PDT by diogenes ghost
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To: diogenes ghost

Wasn't one a Instructor Pilot and the other his student?


37 posted on 05/25/2005 3:14:31 PM PDT by Gunrunner2
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