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Article updated: 8/5/2011 12:20 PM

75-yr-old S. Barrington widow surprised by F-16s

By Madhu Krishnamurthy

A 75-year-old South Barrington pilot got the surprise of her life when her small plane was intercepted by two F-16 fighter jets Wednesday night after it entered restricted airspace temporarily put in place for President Barack Obama's visit to Chicago.

The jets were scrambled from Toledo by the North American Aerospace Defense Command at 5:34 p.m. after the Kitfox Model 2, piloted by Myrtle Rose, flew into temporarily restricted airspace, NORAD spokesman Lt. Michael Humphreys said.

NORAD officials said Rose's plane did not have a radio, forcing the Command to scramble the jets to identify it. The jets intercepted the plane, forcing it to turn around and return to its home airport at Mill Rose Farm, Humphreys said.

The airport is basically a grass landing strip in the middle of a residential area owned by the Rose family of South Barrington. The FAA has record of several aircraft registered to the family's patriarch, William R. Rose, one of the founders of South Barrington, who died in April 2010 at 83.

The pilot, Myrtle Rose -- William's widow -- was flying the plane by herself, South Barrington Deputy Police Chief Ray Cordell said.

"She was unaware that she had entered restricted air space," Cordell said, adding that Rose didn't seem shaken. "Surprised was probably the right term."

Someone reached Thursday at Rose Packing Company Inc., which owns Mill Rose Farm airport, declined to comment. Rose herself could not be reached for comment.

For the quiet bedroom community of South Barrington, it's the most excitement the village of roughly 4,500 people has seen in years.

"We do not have fighter jets flying over the village very often," Cordell said.

South Barrington police got involved after receiving a call from Illinois State Police notifying them that the Federal Aviation Administration was looking for the pilot.

Cordell said Rose gave a statement to the FAA, which "didn't believe there was any threat."

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said the agency's investigation, nonetheless, could take several weeks.

"With these types of Temporary Flight Restriction violations, there are no lines drawn in the air; it's sometimes a little hard to tell where you're at," said NORAD spokeswoman Stacey Knott. "Typically, it's just a mistake."

Ÿ Daily Herald staff writers Paul Biasco and Lee Filas contributed to this report.

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