Two fighter jets intercepted a private plane that flew in from Greece Saturday afternoon and, without giving any notice, requested to land in Israel.
The Israel Air Force (IAF) suspected the plane was an enemy aircraft and escorted it to Hatzor Air Force Base.
At the base, the Israeli pilot explained to interrogators that he had “forgotten” to notify air traffic control about his flight arrangements.
Just a few months ago, a senior air force commander warned about the growing phenomenon of amateur pilots crossing over into prohibited airspace or flying without the requisite permits. As a result, the IAF has had to regularly scramble jets, costing tens of thousands of dollars each incident.
Saturday afternoon it happened again: The pilot of a single-engine Cessna requested to land at Ben-Gurion International Airport after coming from Greece. His request seemed strange to those in the control tower, who knew nothing about his flight – setting off alarms.
IAF sent two F-15s to escort the Cessna, which carried the pilot and two passengers, to the Hatzor Air Force Base. IAF officials say the pilot raised suspicions because had not notified anyone ahead of time of his flight to Israel.
IAF to sue cowboy pilots
Police were waiting at Hatzor for the Cessna pilot, who was interrogated. The IAF views the matter quite seriously and plans to sue the pilot, as it has done in the past, in order to meet the operating costs of the fighter jets.
Five months ago, two F-16s were sent up after a suspicious plane on IAF radar in the Sharon area and forced him to land. It turned out that the intruder was an innocent Ultralight pilot.
The Ultralight, whose course was followed by worried observers on the ground, had drifted in Palestinian airspace above the West Bank city of Tul Karm. A police investigation, revealed that human error was responsible for the aircraft’s veering off course.