After violating airspace, pilot forced to land

November 02, 2001|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

A single-engine plane rented in New Jersey was forced to land at Baltimore-Washington International Airport yesterday morning after airport officials said it violated the airspace of an undisclosed area.

The pilot was taken into custody for Immigration and Naturalization Service violations, FBI officials said.

FBI agents, who were on the scene when the plane landed, did not bring criminal charges against the pilot. FBI spokesman Peter A. Gulotta said the agency does not believe the incident was related to terrorist activity.

It is unclear whether the plane was forced down by military aircraft or radioed to land, when it arrived at the airport late yesterday morning.

"The plane entered into airspace that it was not allowed to be in," said Melanie Miller, a BWI spokeswoman. "Since the September attacks, we have been on heightened security. The [Federal Aviation Administration] and INS dealt with it."

This is the second time in two days a plane was forced to land at a nearby airport. Student pilot Ken Stinson, flanked by two F-16s, was forced to land at Carroll County Regional Airport on Wednesday, after he accidentally flew over the presidential retreat at Camp David. The FBI, FAA and other law enforcement authorities questioned the 43-year-old man for 3 1/2 hours before releasing him.

"This stuff is going on at airports every day now," because of a heightened state of alert, Gulotta said.

The pilot, who has not been identified, rented the plane from the Flying W Airport and Resort in Medford, N.J. Employees of that airport declined to comment, but said that the pilot had rented planes regularly from them and that the plane remains at BWI.

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