Calls About Sonic Booms Cripple 911 System In Wash.
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Two fighter jets from Portland were scrambled after a float plane violated airspace restrictions around Air Force One in Seattle, military officials said.
The 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affair's Office said the F-15 fighter jets left Portland International Airport at 1:38 p.m. Tuesday for the Puget Sound area. North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman John Cornelio said the jets produced two sonic booms that could be heard for miles.
The Cessna 180 float plane was flying to a seaplane base on Lake Washington, next to Seattle, from Lake Chelan in Eastern Washington, said passenger Laura Joseph, of Normandy Park.
She told The Associated Press that neither she nor the pilot, Lee Daily, knew about Obama's visit or the air restrictions that accompany such a high-profile trip.
The Secret Service interviewed Daily after he landed at Kenmore Air on the north end of the lake, which had been shut down for the duration of the presidential campaign stop.
Cornelio said the aircraft left the restricted area before the Air National Guard jets arrived, and there was no intercept.
Joseph said she saw an F-15 outside the window as the plane approached Seattle.
"I saw a jet, just a white jet going by," she said. "I thought it was kind of odd to see a military jet."
The fighter only passed by the float plane once and didn't take any other action, Joseph said.
Joseph said she and Daily didn't know anything was wrong until they landed and were told they had to talk to the Secret Service. She also said she didn't hear the sonic booms.
"Oh my God, I can't believe -- is this the top news thing?" she said.
Joseph said she and Daily were allowed to leave after being interviewed by the Secret Service and haven't heard anything yet about possible sanctions.
Numerous people in western Washington reported hearing sonic booms in the area. At least one person in Chehalis, Wash., said a sonic boom rattled a shopping center there.
Pierce County officials said their 911 system is down because of an onslaught of calls about the sonic boom.
President Barack Obama was visiting Seattle on Tuesday afternoon to support Sen. Patti Murray on primary election day.
Air Force One landed at Boeing Field in Seattle earlier in the day. It's Obama's first visit to Washington since the election. He was scheduled to appear at a business round-table at a Pioneer Square bakery to talk about jobs and then attend two fundraisers for Murray.
He departed Seattle at about 4 p.m.
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A few hours ago Facebook explodes with OMG WHAT WAS THAT HOLY SHIT, which confused me because i totally missed the sonic boom :( I think I was inside the mall or something at the time, or possibly driving with the music turned up and it drowned out the sound (combined with the typical freeway noises, it's not that unusual). Apparently a lot of broken windows in the areas closest to where it originated.
And I wasn't kidding about those shirts.