A plane from a West Point Military Academy training flight entered restricted airspace during the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday afternoon, forcing a US fighter jet to react and escort the single-engine plane away from New York City, military officials said.
The single-engine Cessna was flying near the George Washington Bridge after President Biden finished his UN speech and as it left New York. Officials say there was no threat.
They said the West Point plane only briefly entered the restricted airspace around the city. But two officials said initial radio calls to leave the area were not immediately answered, forcing the fighter plane to react in the skies of Upper Manhattan.
“A NORAD fighter jet responded to an incident involving a small single-engine general aviation aircraft near New York at around 2:00 p.m.,” a spokesperson for the North American Aerospace Defense Command said. “The small single-engine general aviation landed safely around 2:30 p.m.”
The plane took off and landed at Stewart Air Force Base in Orange County. A West Point spokesperson said the plane was flown by an army instructor on a flight for a civil and mechanical engineering class. “Once they realized they had violated the airspace, they immediately left the area and returned to the airport,” the spokesperson said.
Federal Aviation Administration investigators planned to interview the pilot and conduct a review of the incident. The FAA said the aircraft in question was a Cessna 182.
In addition to NORAD and FAA officials alerted, federal and local law enforcement agencies helping to secure UNGA and visiting heads of state have also been briefed. Residents of New York and New Jersey saw the F-16 fighter react and posted videos and comments on social media about the incident, particularly the noise it caused.
NORAD said incursions into restricted flight areas occur “from time to time and are part of normal NORAD operations.” In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, NORAD stepped up its air defense missions using radars, satellites and fighter jets to better identify planes and help secure the skies around New York City and all of it. North America.