A Chance Meeting
Sometimes reviewing the latest NOTAMs and TFRs isn’t enough
In addition to the Garmin 430’s moving map, I was using a new copy of Air Chart’s Aviation Topographic Atlas, 2005 to 2006 edition, which I had received only two days before leaving on the trip. I checked my watch again, and it was nearly 4 p.m., a full 45 minutes after the TFR had expired.
About that time, the F-16 arced by again, this time, only about ½-mile ahead and firing a dozen or so flares across my path as he transitioned from lower left to upper right. Something was not right.
I dialed the Garmin to 121.5 and said, “Air Force F-16, this is Mooney 3309K. What’s the problem?”
I received an answer almost immediately: “Mooney, this is Fort Hood approach. You’re in prohibited airspace. Go to 134.6, make an immediate 180-degree right turn and leave the area on a heading of 270.”
I wasn’t about to argue the point. I wrapped the Mooney over to 60 degrees, reversed course and changed frequency. The first thing I heard on the radio after I had stabilized on my new westerly heading was “Fort Hood, Air Force One is out of 8,000 for FL370.”
“Roger, Air Force One. Go to center on 129.65. Good day.”
Uh-oh. The F-16 blazed by on my left and below, waggled his wings, plugged in the burner and disappeared straight up.
Next, I heard, “Mooney 3309K, the Secret Service instructs you to land at Killeen, Texas. They want to talk to you, and you’re not to leave the airplane until they arrive.”
“Roger that, Fort Hood,” I said. “We’re diverting to Killeen.”