US fighter jet intercepts plane near Trump rally, deploys flares

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On October 28, at approximately 2 p.m. EDT, the North American Aerospace Defense Command ordered an F-16 aircraft to investigate a general aviation aircraft that was not in communication with the air traffic control and entering the Temporary Flight Restriction Zone (TFR) surrounding Bullhead City, Arizona without proper clearance, ”said John Cornelio, spokesperson for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), in a statement to CNN.

“The offending aircraft did not respond to initial interception procedures, but established radio communications after the NORAD aircraft deployed signal flares,” Cornelio added. “The offending aircraft was escorted out of the restricted area by the NORAD aircraft without further incident. ”

The smaller plane was not visible to CNN reporters on the ground in Arizona, but the fighter plane could be heard above, prompting a reaction from the crowd at the rally and from the president himself.

Trump, seemingly caught off guard by the above jet, said the plane was “about four days old” and touted its funding for the military.

“I love that sound, I love it,” Trump said to the sound of airplane engines. “You don’t know what I went through to get these suckers up there – I had to get this money from the Democrats. ”

He said the plane was “trying to show off” for him and called the unfolding rockets “a little show” for the president.

U.S. Secret Service agents also reacted to the plane’s unexpected presence during the rally, with some heading quickly towards the president, although they never took the stage.

The crowd cheered loudly as the jet could be heard overhead, with chants of “USA” and a man shouting, “This is the sound of freedom!” ”

Trump’s rally in Arizona is part of a final sprint of campaign events leading up to Election Day to solidify the states he won four years ago. Arizona is experiencing a growing number of coronavirus cases per day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. On Wednesday, many gatherers were seen wearing masks, but no social distancing.

The emergence of Arizona – where both Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris were due to travel on Wednesday – as a swinging state, could lay a major key in Trump’s electoral hopes and provide a big lifeline for Biden.

CNN’s Stephen Collinson and Harry Enten contributed to this report.

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