President's restricted airspace violated three times in less than 24 hours

Story highlights

  • The area off limits to general aviation is called a "temporary flight restriction" or TFR
  • Pilots violating TFRs face possible suspension or loss of their pilot's license
  • The FAA keeps a list of restricted airspace on its website
For the third time in less than 24 hours, F-16 fighter jets were scrambled Thursday to escort a hapless pilot out of a restricted area in place for President Obama's visit to Los Angeles.
Fighter jets intercepted a single-engine Cherokee Piper around 9:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. ET) minutes after intercepting a Cessna for the same violation.
Hours earlier, fighter jets intercepted a single-engine airplane northwest of Los Angeles for breaching a temporary airspace restriction, according to a military news release.
The Federal Aviation Administration investigates all violations of restricted airspace, and FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer told CNN the agency is investigating the three cases over Los Angeles.
Pilots refer to the area off limits to general aviation as a "temporary flight restriction" or TFR. The FAA keeps an up-to-date list of restricted airspace on its website, something pilots are supposed to check prior to departure.
The penalties for violating restricted airspace can be severe according to the FAA. Pilots face possible suspension or loss of their pilot's license.
Not all aircraft are equal when it comes to restricted air space. Commercial flights are in contact with the FAA during their flights and have a flight plan, so they're allowed to fly into and out of the cordoned-off area, according to the FAA. Police helicopters and air ambulance aircraft are also permitted in the no-fly zone.
Flight restriction orders are usually put in place surrounding stadiums during large sporting events, scenes of natural disasters and areas around the president's movements.
Currently there are 49 TFRs over airspace in the U.S. according to the FAA's website, including one restriction that's been in place since 2008 over Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii, an active volcano.