May, 11, 2005
Chaos surrounded the United States Capitol just before noon today as a small plane crossed into the restricted air space above Washington, DC. Most of Capitol Hill was evacuated, including the Senate, which was in session. Fighter jets scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base to try and intercept the Cessna that did not respond to radio contact. The First Lady and the Vice President were both whisked away to secure locations. Charles Schumer of New York was inside the capitol.
"Someone banged on the glass of the phone booth and said, Get out, get out! And she looked pretty scared," the Democrat said.
It took eight minutes but the fighter jets finally got the pilots attention, turning him away just three miles from the White House.
"This appears to be errant pilots," said US Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer.
After 54 minutes of being in the restricted air space, the plane was escorted to a small local airport in Frederick, Maryland where the pilot and co-pilot were questioned by the Maryland State Police and the FBI.
Family members of the pilots said that the two were aware of the "No Fly Zones" but must have accidentally disregarded them.