Private plane violates NASA airspace

/ Source: The Associated Press

A pilot in a single-engine plane entered restricted air space over the Kennedy Space Center and was escorted down Tuesday, officials said. The incident did not disrupt the planned launch of the space shuttle Atlantis next month.

The plane “was within sight of the launch pad,” said NASA spokesman George Diller.

The restricted air space is about 10 miles by 30 miles (16 by 48 kilometers) and is clearly marked on air charts, Diller said. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, pilots have not been allowed within the area at any time.

“He clearly should have known,” Diller said.

A sheriff’s office helicopter from Volusia County escorted the plane down to the Ormond Beach Municipal Airport, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of the space center, where it was searched for explosives and drugs, said sheriff’s spokesman Gary Davidson. Nothing suspicious was detected, he said.

The pilot wasn’t immediately identified. He was being interviewed by FBI agents and hadn’t been taken into custody by midday, Davidson said.