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F-16s Intercept Grumman Tiger

A pilot and his wife flying a Grumman Tiger from Ocean City, MD, to New York violated last weekend’s Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) during President Biden’s visit to his home and were intercepted by two F-16 fighter jets. 

According to the U.S. Secret Service, “On May 16, at approximately 1:09 p.m., a small aircraft violated the restricted airspace in Wilmington, DE.  Per standard protocol, U.S. military aircraft responded, the aircraft was intercepted, and the pilot redirected to a local airport.”

The Grumman pilot said he was unaware of the TFR, and that both he and his wife were “shaken up.”  He said he also “thought they were being shot at.”

A Defense Department spokesman confirmed, “The NORAD fighter dispensed signal flares during the intercept in an effort to gain the pilot’s attention and direct them safely out of the restricted zone.” Upon landing at New Garden Airport, the Secret Service interviewed the pilot.  He flew his aircraft home May 17.

Jon Martin, New Garden’s director of aviation, said this was the first aircraft since President Biden’s inauguration to be intercepted and then land at N57.  He added that the FAA told him there have been between four and seven interceptions every weekend there is a TFR, and that most land at nearby Chester County Airport.