KEY POINTS

  • The US Air Force deployed a fighter jet after a general aviation plane flew close to Trump's rally
  • The aircraft initially ignored intercept procedures until the F-16 fired signal flares
  • It is unclear why the plane entered the restricted airspace

The U.S. Air Force intercepted a plane after it flew close to President Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Bullhead City, Arizona, on Wednesday afternoon. 

The unauthorized aircraft entered the restricted air space over Trump’s rally without clearance around 2 p.m., forcing the U.S. Air Force to deploy an F-16 to intercept it. The plane initially ignored intercept procedures. However, it established radio contact when the U.S. fighter jet fired signal flares, CNN reported.  

"The violating aircraft was non-responsive to initial intercept procedures, but established radio communications after NORAD aircraft deployed signal flares," John Cornelio, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), said. "The violating aircraft was escorted out of the restricted area by the NORAD aircraft without further incident."

It is unclear why the intercepted aircraft had flown in the area. 

The incident caught the attention of the crowd and President Trump, who pointed at the sky while addressing his supporters, Fox News reported. 

"Oh, look at that. Look, look, look," Trump said. "You don't know what I went through to get those suckers up there -- I had to get that money from the Democrats."

U.S. Secret Service agents also reacted to the unexpected incident, with some quickly rushing toward Trump. 

The airspace that the plane entered had been placed under temporary restriction due to the president’s rally. The Federal Aviation Administration typically establishes temporary flight-restriction areas enforced by NORAD, the organization responsible for defending airspace. 

NORAD can deploy F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15 Eagles and F-22 Raptors in case of emergency, Business Insider reported. 

Trump’s Arizona rally comes less than a week before Election Day. Polls in the state show him trailing behind Democratic challenger Joe Biden by 2.2 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics. In 2016, Trump won the state by 4 points. 

The president’s campaign rally was attended by thousands of supporters from Arizona, Nevada and California. While many were seen wearing face masks, most flouted social distancing measures. 

Trump’s rally in Arizona marked his seventh visit to the state this year.  Pakistan has a fleet of about 50 F-16s, each worth at least $40 million Pakistan has a fleet of about 50 F-16s, each worth at least $40 million Photo: AFP / AAMIR QURESHI