12, 10:59 PM PST
Drifting Balloon Sends Jets, White House
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A helium balloon strayed off course into the no-fly
zone surrounding the White House yesterday, forcing the U.S.
Air Force to scramble jets -- and sending Vice President Dick
Cheney scrambling into the White House basement once again.
"At 13:41, an unidentified flying object -- or
'bogie,' as we say -- entered the eight-mile radius that constitutes
prohibited air space around the White House," announced
Lt. Colonel Bernal Wisenheim, spokesman for Andrews Air Force
"Upon ascertaining that the object
was indeed a red, heart-shaped balloon, our pilots proceeded
to hail it, to no avail."
The pilots then tried to force the balloon
to change course with several death-defying fly-bys, but though
clearly buffeted and bounced, the balloon continued toward the
nationally revered building.
"Also, the balloon in question did
not respond to repeated commands to fly out of restricted airspace,"
Uncertain as to whether its communications
equipment was malfunctioning, the pilots then attempted to communicate
by sign language, Morse code and through the wiggling of their
But still the balloon refused to respond
as it drifted leisurely nearer and nearer to the White House,
as winds allowed.
"It was at this point the pilots on
the scene, in constant consultation with superiors on the ground,
opined that the flying object represented an imminent threat
to the White House, whereby the chain of command presented the
order to terminate it with extreme prejudice."
Pilots terminated the balloon at seven
minutes after scrambling to intercept it.
Meanwhile, the vice president had to run to the bottom levels
of the White House once again.
"Had to move quickly, did move quickly"
Cheney said at a press conference later.
"Feared heavy breathing, strain of
moving, stress of situation might stop heart temporarily. Heart
did stop temporarily. Feared dead by White House medics, was
declared dead by White House medics, but was thought capable
of life again, and now am living again."
George Bush was nowhere to be found, though
it's suspected he's in hiding in Air Force One over the heart
In a matter of minutes, Congress passed
legislation creating an eight-mile restricted flight zone around
Capitol Hill, but the Air Force declined to comment on whether
or not they would enforce it. A similar call by the Supreme Court
to create an eight-mile zone around it was ignored by the White
House, Congress and the airlines.
Attorney General John Ashcroft announced
that a full FBI investigation was underway to find the balloon's
owner, believed to be a seven-year-old girl name Tammy Bieckert.
If seen, you are ordered to report Bieckert to your local authorities
(no registration required)
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