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December 19, 2022

Fighter jet seen over Philly area escorted another plane out of restricted airspace

A civilian pilot flew a Cessna into an area that was temporarily under patrol by NORAD

Government Aircraft
F-15 Fighter Jet Philly Kyodo News/Sipa USA

An F-15 fighter jet flew above Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs on Monday morning. It was escorting a civilian plane that entered into restricted airspace. The file photo above shows an F-15 in Okinawa, Japan.

A low-flying fighter jet that brought a loud rumble over parts of the Philadelphia region on Monday morning was an escort sent to guide another aircraft out of restricted airspace, the North American Aerospace Defense Command confirmed.

The F-15 jet flew over Philly and the surrounded suburbs around 9:20 a.m., prompting questions on social media about why a military plane would be in the area.

A spokesperson for NORAD, which protects airspace in the United State and Canada, told the Inquirer the jet was responding to a civilian Cessna plane that had entered a temporary flight restriction (TFR) area. The Cessna pilot did not have clearance to fly in the area.

President Joe Biden was in Delaware on Monday morning, but NORAD declined to confirm whether Biden's presence in Wilmington at the time was the reason for the flight restriction. A TFR is typically put in place whenever the president is traveling.

NORAD told NBC10 that it “employs a layered defense network of radars, satellites, and fighter aircraft to identify aircraft and determine the appropriate response.”

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A similar response from NORAD came twice in the span of a week in Southern California in October, including an afternoon when Biden was giving a speech in Santa Ana. In that instance, an F-16 fighter jet intercepted a Cessna plane that flew within 12 miles of Biden's event, entering restricted airspace. Incidents such as these are fairly common and usually result from pilot error.

During another incident in June, two fighter jets responded to a private plane that inadvertently flew near the Biden family's vacation home in Rehoboth Beach. The president and his wife, Jill, were briefly evacuated from the property until the unapproved aircraft was escorted out of the restricted area.