A Chicago-area pilot who says she thought the pilots of a pair of F-16s circling her were just admiring her award-winning 1941 Piper Cub will undoubtedly get a written explanation of why they were really there. Myrtle Rose, 75, admits she didn’t check NOTAMs or even turn on the radio in the blue-and-yellow Cub she calls Winston when she went for a hop from her fly-in community on Aug. 5 and strayed into a presidential TFR. When the fighters appeared, it apparently never occurred to her they might be on official business. “I thought, ‘Oh, well, they’re just looking at how cute the Cub is,” she told The Associated Press. It’s not clear whether the fighter jocks attempted to escort her to an airport but it may not have done any good. Rose headed home and the airstrip in the affluent Chicago suburb of South Barrington soon filled with police cars.
Rose said she filled out a report to the FAA explaining that she thought the fighter jocks were just trying to ogle her Cub, which recently earned best-in-class honors at AirVenture Oshkosh. That’s not a likely flight profile for $9,000-an-hour, fully armed fighters, according to NORAD spokeswoman Stacey Knott. “The biggest thing to keep in mind is that when F-16s come screaming up to you, they are probably trying to tell you something,” she said. The FAA will be telling her something but spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory told the AP she doesn’t know how stern that message will be. Penalties for busting TFRs range from letters to fines to suspension of flying privileges and it will likely be a few weeks before Rose’s punishment is meted out.