NATIONAL

Wednesday, Nov. 12, 10:59 PM PST

Drifting Balloon Sends Jets, White House Scrambling

by Brent the Johnson,
NA!P NewsWire

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 Base.

"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," Wisenheim added.

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 jets' wings.

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
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 of Nebraska.

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 immediately.

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