• United States



by Jon Surmacz

Confused Fliers Trigger Capital Scare

May 12, 20051 min
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

Feds Find No Security Threat… Two lost pilots from rural Pennsylvania got themselves into a fine mess Wednesday as they unknowingly flew into restricted airspace in Washington D.C. The incident caused a panic that evacuated the Capitol and the Supreme Court and set the White House internal threat level to red.

According to the Washington Post, Hayden L. “Jim” Sheaffer, 69, and Troy Martin, 36, flew into restricted airspace in their old Cessna 150 around 11:30 a.m. Air traffic controllers tried to radio them, but there was no response from the Cessna. After a Blackhawk helicopter and a U.S. customs jet tried to get the plane to veer off its course, two F-16 fighter jets joined the chase and fired four warning flares across the nose of the plane. That, the Post reports, got the attention of the two pilots who quickly turned the plane northwest and landed at Frederick airport, where they were detained for questioning and later released. One federal law enforcement official said, “They were lost and had no idea where the hell they were. They were confused and scared.” The plane, officials said, was nearly shot down. Both pilots will likely have their licenses suspended.