Four small aircraft came under scrutiny of USAF F-16s patrolling the restricted air space around Air Force One during President Bush’s southern California visit on Monday. All were flown by private pilots, who later said they were unaware of flight notices about the trip, according to the Associated Press. The F-16s had to fire flares to catch the attention of two and radioed the other two. All four aircraft were directed to land at nearby fields. All in a day’s work for crews of the four-year-old Operation Noble Eagle.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.