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11 planes violated airspace around Mar-a-Lago during Trump’s holiday break

Personal jet (PxHere)

Eleven planes violated restricted airspace during President Donald Trump’s holiday visit to Mar-a-Lago, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Two F-16 fighter jets intercepted a private plane that veered into restricted airspace Sunday about 29 nautical miles from Palm Beach, said Michael Kucharek, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The fighter jets based at Homestead Air Reserve Station intercepted the plane at 4:24 p.m. while on patrol and escorted it to the North Palm Beach County Airport near Palm Beach Gardens, Kucharek said.

That was the only plane intercepted by military jets during Trump’s visit from Dec. 22 to Jan. 1 , according to NORAD.

Pilots violating air restrictions are questioned by Secret Service and law enforcement, Kucharek said. The FAA determines if pilots flying into restricted airspace will face civil penalties or criminal charges.

Violations are subject to criminal charges punishable by up to a year in prison and $100,000 in fines, according to the FAA. The agency can also take administrative action, issuing fines of $1,437 per violation for pilots and suspending licenses.

Arlene Salac, an FAA spokeswoman, declined to elaborate about the violations.

Since Trump was elected, dozens of pilots have violated air restrictions around Mar-a-Lago.

Last February, two Air Force F-15s hit supersonic speeds to intercept an aircraft, causing a sonic boom that residents heard from Broward to Palm Beach counties.

Federal agencies are trying to educate the aviation community about the presidential airspace restrictions, but ultimately, pilots are responsible for staying out of restricted areas, Kucharek said.


© 2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.