It’s not often the deadly serious nature of a fighter intercept is greeted with roaring approval from the commander in chief and his political supporters but a NORAD F-16 took center stage at a Trump rally last week. The Viper was scrambled to confront an aircraft that had strayed into the TFR around President Donald Trump’s campaign stop in Bullhead City, Arizona. The errant aircraft actually got pretty close to the rally and the intercept, complete with warning flares, happened in full view of the president and the crowd. It was also apparently misinterpreted by both.

“Oh, look at that, look, look, look, they gave the president a little display,” a clearly delighted Trump told the crowd. Had the errant pilot not finally responded to the military’s peaceful warnings what was scheduled to happen next would have been even more impressive but the drama ended there. “The violating aircraft was non-responsive to initial intercept procedures, but established radio communications after NORAD aircraft deployed signal flares,” NORAD Command said in a Twitter statement later. “The aircraft was escorted out of the restricted area by the NORAD aircraft without further incident.” No details were released on the identity or origin of the TFR-busting aircraft.


  1. Do you love this country and what it stands for or are you embarrassed by it’s relentless pursuit for equality, liberty and freedom?

    It’s on the ballot this Tuesday, ‘c’mon man’, you decide.

  2. ‘… and the intercept, complete with warning flares, happened in full view of the president and the crowd. It was also apparently misinterpreted by both.’

    Wow, shocking. What’s next, staring directly at a solar eclipse?
    …What? There’s video???

  3. Arizona? Pffftt… no excuse.

    Try flying in a smallish “battleground” state like NC. The map of VIP TFRs around here rivals the COVID19 clusters. Between the two of them, I haven’t flown an hour since February. With any luck, at least one of them will be settled by _next_ March.

  4. Putting politics aside, it seems like this incident could have been handled better by a helicopter. They could fly along side the intruding aircraft, be easier for the pilot to see, and could certainly shoot it down if necessary. Put a couple of attack helicopters along side the aircraft and the pilot would quickly know he/she screwed up. It would almost be fun to watch.

  5. Florida man scoffs. He lives with VIP TFR’S, Disney, NASA, Restricted and Warning, CBP intercept zones. I don’t know how we weekend pilots could manage without our nav devices. Now I’m considered “old school” because I still think north is up.

  6. How amused would you be if the “Sunday driver” pilot who accidentally wandered into
    restricted airspace had been shot down in full view of thousands of people, plus millions
    watching on TV? How tickled would you be if the President of the United States boasted
    about his generosity toward the military as a small private plane plunged to the ground?
    And how overjoyed would you be if you were that hapless pilot, or belonged to his family?
    Would you be enthralled by the airshow? Believe our country was safer than if we had let
    a Cessna, a Piper or a Beechcraft attack Bullhead, AZ on route to the World Trade Center?
    Regard a monumental display of vanity as proof of our national preparedness and resolve?
    Granted, there are grave threats to our national security. They hold office, not the rudder.
    This is no laughing matter. But it’s the price we pay for equating democracy with insanity.