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Pilot who flew into Obama's airspace faces drug probe

February 16, 2012 |  6:52 pm

Marine One with President Obama aboard over Long Beach
The U.S. Secret Service and other federal authorities turned over the small-plane pilot who strayed into President Obama’s airspace Thursday morning to the Long Beach Police Department, saying the airspace violations do not appear to be of “protective interest.”

“A civilian aircraft entered the restricted airspace in violation of the temporary flight restrictions imposed by the FAA," said Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary. "The aircraft was diverted to Long Beach Airport, and the airspace restriction violations do not appear to be of protective interest.”

Long Beach police officials said they responded to the incident about noon and that “a large amount of marijuana” was found on board the plane.

“After federal authorities investigated, they released the man to the custody of the Long Beach Police Department, which will be conducting the drug investigation,” according to a statement from Long Beach police.

Authorities would not provide the man’s identity, and federal officials said Thursday evening that criminal charges have not yet been filed.

Two F-16 fighter jets intercepted the Cessna 182 after air traffic controllers tried to contact the pilot.

The pilot did not respond and eventually landed -– with escorts -- at Long Beach Airport.

Authorities have told The Times that as much as 10 kilograms of marijuana aboard the plane was seized.

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Marine One with President Obama aboard, along with several support helicopters, flies over Long Beach on Thursday. Credit: Saul Loeb / AFP/Getty Images

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