Plane headed to Mount Airy prompts U.S. Capitol evacuation

Capital Hill

WASHINGTON — Capitol Hill was evacuated temporarily Saturday after a plane headed to Mount Airy entered restricted airspace.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the small plane entered the airspace without authorization and authorities could not get in contact with the pilot.

Officials said two F-16 fighter jets intercepted the plane around 1:30 p.m. after it entered restricted airspace and was out of communication with air traffic control.

The White House, Library of Congress and Supreme Court were evacuated. Everyone has since been allowed back into buildings.

Officials said the pilot didn’t realize the area was restricted. He was from Massachusetts and flying to Mount Airy to visit his daughter, according to authorities. The pilot said his outdated maps caused him some confusion. There was one other person in plane.

The incident prompted authorities to institute an AIRCON RED — air condition red — alert, police said. The alert is triggered when an aircraft enters restricted airspace in Washington without authorization.

As he flew through Capitol airspace, he could not be contacted by radio, according to officials.

The pilot was detained by law enforcement in Surry County and questioned by the Secret Service. Officials said it was determined that there was a malfunction with the communication unit.

The pilot had just bought the plane and was unaware of the malfunction, officials said.

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