Military jets divert 3 planes from presidential airspace above Florida's Treasure Coast

TREASURE COAST - Military jets diverted a total of three small planes that stumbled too close above President Barack Obama's Treasure Coast golf outings.

The latest wayward aircraft ended up in restricted airspace near the Floridian at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. The Cessna plane left the no-fly zone, landed at Okeechobee Airport and was met by local authorities, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Mike Humphreys.

The F-16s and a Coast Guard helicopter intercepted the first plane, registered with a business at the Plant City Airport, at 11:55 a.m. Saturday and it landed at Witham Field. The Secret Service questioned the pilot, but agency spokesman Brian Leary said "the restricted air space violation does not appear to be of protective interests at this time."

The military jets intercepted the second aircraft at 5:09 p.m. But that plane, a two-passenger Lancair 320, left the restricted area and carried on to its destination, Humphreys said. The aircraft was flying from Boca Raton to DeLand, the FAA reported.

The FAA's investigation of all three is ongoing.

The plane from Plant City, intercepted at 11:55 a.m. Saturday, is registered to Mitchell Enterprises Inc. in Plant City, according to the FAA registry.

Martin Pure, the Plant City Airport manager, said the plane was a rental for a private pilot. Federal officials contacted him Saturday about the pilot's mistake. He said he hasn't talked to the pilot after the airspace breach.

Pure said pilots pick their own course with the airport's rentals. The liability is on them.

He said he didn't expect the plane to head that direction though.

"I did not expect them to go south, but they went south and didn't see (the temporary flight restriction)," Pure said.

When the plane was forced to land at Witham Field, Martin County Sheriff's deputies stood by with the pilot at the airport until Secret Service agents came to pick him up, said Martin County Sheriff William Snyder. The Secret Service did not specify where they took the pilot.

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