Unidentified Aircraft Strays Into D.C. No-Fly Zone

U.S. officials say an unidentified aircraft strayed Wednesday into Washington, D.C.'s no-fly zone. The alert was lifted by 12:30 p.m. ET.

Homeland Security told FOX News that the FAA had established contact with the aircraft, which was identified as a private plane that had strayed off course. FOX News confirms that two F-16s and a Coast Guard helicopter were scrambled as part of the alert.

Security officials to raised the threat level from yellow to orange and ordered personnel in the U.S. Capitol to prepare to evacuate.

Capitol Police Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said the plane was diverted to a landing in nearby Leesburg, Va., where the pilot was being interviewed.

Michael Kucharek, a spokesman with North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said two F-16s were scrambled about 10:15 a.m. EDT after a plane heading south from Maryland violated restricted air space around Washington.

The military agency also used a laser system that visually warns pilots they are in a restricted area, Kucharek said. The pilot turned west and landed at an airport in suburban Leesburg, Va., while under escort from the fighter jets.

It wasn't immediately clear how close the plane had come to the Capitol building, where the U.S. Congress sits.

The Capitol was not evacuated, but tourists were turned away for a time. The threat level was soon returned to yellow, or elevated and later, green — or low threat — according to police and other officials.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said the White House was notified.

"There was an aircraft that entered into the airspace that there was some concern about, but the aircraft turned around," she said. "We are at normal security levels here at the White House."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.