Crossing the border into Mexico and back netted a Cessna flown by three US citizens an F-16 Viper escort. The US Customs and Border Protection unit in Riverside tracked the aircraft as it crossed the border and back again, prompting a request for assistance from March ARB, Calif., where Montana Air National Guard’s 120th Fighter Wing has deployed F-16s to support Operation Noble Eagle. It turns out the Cessna had lost communications and was having engine trouble as the three men reportedly were on their way to Baja for a surfing holiday. The Vipers forced the Cessna to land at Oceanside, where federal and local officials eventually sorted the matter out and released the three men.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.