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Wed, May 25, 2005

Washinton Post Sez...'ADIZ Violators Were Seconds Away From Shoot-Down'

Rumsfeld Had Given Permission To Fire

Contrary to earlier reports, Heyden "Jim" Schaeffer and student pilot Troy Martin were just seconds away from being blown out of the sky, according to published reports. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had given fighter piltos intercepting their Cessna 150K in the Washington ADIZ permission to shoot.

The Washington Post Thursday quoted government officials as saying the Cessna was "15 to 20 seconds away" from being shot down before Schaeffer and Martin acknowledged fighter pilots' attempts to divert them from the White House. As ANN reported in real time May 11th, their 150K came within three miles of the executive mansion.

The White House, Capitol and Supreme Court were all evacuated as the tiny plane approached. The entire situation lasted approximately eleven minutes.

News that the aircraft was so close to being obliterated seemed to contradict statements from NORAD, which said there was no order to shoot down the Cessna.

"I can't tell you how the engagement authority yesterday afternoon viewed the situation other than that it was not a threat," Col. Keith Snyder, USAF, told CNN on May 12th, the day after the incursion incident. "And they made the decision that they weren't going to shoot the aircraft down."

The situation was made worse by the fact that the "Guard" radio frequency (121.5 MHz) was blocked by the accidental activation of of an emergency locator beacon in an aircraft on the ground, according to military pilots who spoke with the Post. Schaeffer's attorney, who is appealing revocation of the 69-year old pilot's flying pilot certificate, said the ELT transmission kept the errant flyers from leaving the ADIZ sooner.

Speaking on the NBC Today Show Tuesday, Schaeffer said, when intercepting F-16s fired flares to get his attention, he thought his Cessna was about to be shot down. As it turns out, he was right.

FMI: www.dhs.gov

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