Matt Donahue

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Our Presidential Poacher

I thought I would share a few tidbits from an email conversation that started among a few friends of mine following yesterday's rogue Cessna scare in Washington. The first inkling that something was amiss was when I heard a fighter jet roar over downtown DC. We never hear jets in downtown DC as they are not allowed to fly over the city. Since my office is three blocks away from the White House, I automatically started thinking about how fast I should pick up my belongings and head for the door. I remained calm though, and continued working. About a minute later, one of my colleagues came to my office to report that the White House and Capitol buildings had been hastily evacuated, but with no reason given. Hhhmmm.

After about 15 minutes a report came out that a private plane, a Cessna, had strayed into the no fly zone and failed to respond when challenged, prompting the evacuations and F16 fighters to escort the plane away from the city.

Later that day, another colleague forwarded this article from The Washington Post. Check out what our commander in chief was up to when it happened.

U.S. Capitol, White House evacuated in plane scare
May 11, 2005

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fighter jets scrambled over Washington and authorities hurriedly evacuated the White House and the U.S. Congress on Wednesday when an unidentified plane roamed into restricted airspace, sparking fears of a Sept. 11-style attack.

The light private Cessna ignored calls from air traffic controllers and entered the restricted zone around Washington, coming within 3 miles of the Capitol before turning away, authorities said.

The plane's approach sent at least two F-16 fighter jets into the air over the U.S. capital and hundreds of staff and tourists into the streets outside the Capitol building, White House and Supreme Court in an urgent evacuation.

President Bush was not at the White House at the time, having gone on a bicycle ride at a wildlife preserve in the suburbs. Vice President Dick Cheney was in the West Wing and was quickly moved to a secure location, an administration official said....

Nice that the President can go biking at 10:00 am on a Wednesday morning. I contemplated what would happen if informed my office that I would be taking the rest of the day off to do the same, surely it will not matter if I duck out of work to pursue my own personal interests...

While it did not say he was "mountain biking" I have read that he is a huge enthusiast. Looking at the website of the wildlife preserve where he went, it did not appear that there are bike trails there, only hiking. So I've made the assumption that he went mountain biking on the hiking trails- I could be wrong, but I kinda doubt it. Interestingly (here's the poacher part) another friend of mine cleverly pointed out that the trail system does not allow this activity on their trails.

While I am not necessarily a hard-line anti-trail-poacher, I do think that someone with such an elevated profile as The President of the United States should at least ride where it is technically allowed. But, I suppose he doesn't really care, or maybe he just didn't READ the signs.


  • I don't know if it matters, but the Secret Service facility that GW rides at when he isn't riding at Quantico is adjacent to that refuge. That is probably where he is. Now, if he were up here at Camp David, everything in Catoctin Mtn park is off limits to bikes.

    By Blogger Hjalti, at 9:10 PM  

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