At DC, "Incoming Plane!" ... "You Have One Minute To Impact."

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Evacuations As Some Prepare To Pay Their Respects To Ronald Reagan

Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher's King Air 200 yesterday caused panic in Washington D.C. just hours before the expected arrival of the casket bearing former president Ronald Reagan. The aircraft was cleared to land at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) inside the Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ) but while radio communications were never lost, something about the plane's transponder signal was -- 13 miles southwest of DCA, Greg Martin, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, told reporters. The "equipment problem," as Fletcher's chief of staff Daniel Groves called it, aroused officers in the government's most prominent buildings to shout memorable phrases like, "To the basement, to the basement." Deborah Norville, in telephoned comments heard on the evening news, said police entered the Capitol building and told everyone to evacuate immediately ... that to move faster women should take their shoes off and run. Again, at the time AVweb went to press, sources indicated the aircraft never lost radio contact with controllers. Regardless, two F-15 fighters were diverted from an air patrol for the intercept. Outside the buildings, as throngs of spectators gathered for the arrival of former president Ronald Reagan's casket, the commands from uniformed officers sparked fear and a near-panic atmosphere, all caught on video. Before the all-clear was given, several Supreme Court justices had been escorted away and a motorcade had whisked off with the second in line for the presidency (aka House Speaker Dennis Hastert).