Pilot Described as 'Swell Guy'

The men flying in a Cessna (search) that ventured into restricted airspace near the White House and caused a panic in the nation's capital Wednesday were aware of the heavy flight restrictions around Washington, D.C., friends and relatives say.

Hayden Sheaffer (search) was described as a veteran pilot. His companion, Troy Martin (search), is working toward his pilot's license.

The plane they were flying belongs to Vintage Aero Club (search), a group of about 10 people who fly it out of Smoketown Airport in Lancaster County, said club member Merv King, a salesman from Gordonville.

Sheaffer and Martin were flying to a show in North Carolina. Reached by cell phone, Sheaffer confirmed to The Associated Press that he had been released by authorities but declined further comment.

Former club member John E. Henderson of Lancaster said he helped Sheaffer clean the 1970 Cessna 152 on Tuesday in preparation for the trip. He said he was "embarrassed and dismayed" to learn the plane had ventured into restricted airspace.

"It's awful easy for this to happen to anyone," Henderson said. "It's just a shame that it happened to this guy because he is one swell guy."

Martin's wife, Jill, said her husband, a 36-year-old salesman, knew the route would take them near sensitive areas.

"Troy was discussing with me last night after they made their flight plans all about the no-fly zones and how they were going to avoid them. He said they were going to fly between two different restricted areas," she said.

Jill Martin said the men wanted to log some flying time and then volunteer at the Mid-Atlantic Fly-In and Sport Aviation Convention in Lumberton. The convention is expected to draw up to 60,000 people and 1,500 aircraft this weekend for an air show, forums and workshops.