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US F-16 fighter jet intercepts unauthorized plane over NYC during Biden visit to UN

A U.S. Air Force F-16D Fighting Falcon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)
September 21, 2021

On Tuesday, noisy, low-flying aircraft were reported over Manhattan in New York as President Joe Biden traveled to the area to address the United Nations General Assembly.

According to North American Aerospace Defense Command, a U.S. F-16 fighter jet intercepted a small, single engine aircraft that entered the airspace around the U.N. General Assembly where a temporary flight restriction was established to accommodate the president’s visit. The aircraft was escorted away from the city without incident around 2 p.m. local time.  

“#NORAD F-16 fighter aircraft intercepted a small, single engine general aviation aircraft that violated the Temporary Flight Restriction area near #NYC,” NORAD Command tweeted. “The aircraft was escorted out of the TFR w/o incident at approx. 2:00 p.m. EDT. #OperationNobleEagle.”

“ONE is the name given to air defense missions in N. America,” NORAD command explained in a follow-up tweet. “NORAD closely coordinates air defense activities with the FAA and responds as required. Temporary Flight Restriction area violations such as this one occur from time to time and are a normal part of NORAD operations.”

The incident took place approximately 15 minutes before Biden’s plane was scheduled to depart for his return to Washington, D.C.

Fox News reported that the aircraft was a Cessna and the violation appeared to be a mistake made by a civilian pilot without any malicious intent.

A bystander posted a video on Twitter in which the roar of the F-16 is heard overhead.

Another bystander posted a video, saying, “fighter jet doing loops over manhattan.”

Naveed Jamali, Editor-at-Large for Newsweek, witnessed the low-flying jet over Manhattan, calling the moment “dramatic” just weeks after the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

“It was pretty dramatic, because this comes obviously a few weeks after the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and occurred over the George Washington Bridge along the Hudson River in plain view of New Yorkers,” Jamali told the outlet.

One resident of the city, Nelly Sanchez, told Jamali that she heard the jet but “felt confident that the military was on it,” adding that her “first thought is they are taking care of business.”