It got very lively in the skies over New York City today when a wayward Cessna belonging to the U.S. Army strayed into restricted airspace around New York City that was in place to protect the annual U.N. General Assembly, at which President Biden was in attendance. The light aircraft was intercepted by F-16C Vipers from the 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard—the famous Red Tails—that were on temporary duty providing air patrols for the high-profile event. We now have very rare audio of radio communications between air traffic control and the Vipers, which usually communicate on UHF so they are not recorded on standard VHF frequencies, trying to find the aircraft, intercepting it, and then the Cessna pilot’s response.
As you can hear below, the action began around 2:00 PM local time. One of the F-16s checks in with New York Approach using the callsign NOBLE 12 and asked for vectors to the TOI, or Target Of Interest. The fighter pilot had trouble finding the Cessna on radar, which is not surprising for a low-flying small aircraft operating around a metropolis like New York City. From there the intercept unfolds. You can feel how complex and tight the airspace by the exchanges.
Original audio is via the awesome LiveATC.net:
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