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
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
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