I'm on a flight to/from the Caribbean on a single engine Cessna and I crossed the ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) line. I haven't filed a flight plan, I don't have clearance from ATC, and I'm not in contact with ATC. I do have mode c transponder active on ALT and code is 1200 (VFR) and my altitude 6500 ft MSL.

The ATC would see the aircraft, its altitude, and its velocity. Based on this flight data, ATC would most likely conclude this was an ignorant or lost pilot or lost drone, and no threat posed. Have there been any instances where military or coast guard air craft were actually sent for interception of such small and slow aircraft? What are the statistics on this? What would the fines and penalties be? I'm assuming this would apply more when entering the US ADIZ than exiting.

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    $\begingroup$ Most likely you are going to be intercepted by military fighters to determine who you are and your intentions. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 7:00
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    $\begingroup$ "In most cases, would military or coast guard air craft really be sent for interception" is somehow calling for opinions. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 7:32

2 Answers 2


In the late 60's, in a C152. I flew a guy, at a low altitude out of Key West to the Marquessa Islands area to look for sunken Spanish galleons. On the return trip I was nervous flying at 200 feet above the ocean and climbed up to 3,000 feet. After a few minutes al said altitude my windscreen flashed black. A F-4 had come from behind and below - zoomed up a few yards in front of me! Looking behind me I saw his wingman, gear and flaps down, S_turning on my six.

A quick call to FSS clarified the situation.

That is what happened to me upon inadvertent entry into the ADIZ. I don't expect it has changed. There were no followup actions other than the echos of the F-4's pilots laughter.


The entire point of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) is to notify pilots that the relevant defense forces require identifying all aircraft to determine whether they are a threat.

They much prefer to do this via you filing the appropriate flight plan and talking to ATC/FIS. If you don't do that, you should expect to be intercepted by said defense forces for identification, and you may face civil or criminal penalties for making that necessary. If you do not comply with the intercept procedures and they genuinely believe you are a threat, you may even be shot down.

In the US, exact penalties for aviation offenses are not specified by law, so the FAA can impose anything from a slap on the wrist up to permanent revocation of your license, with their choice (at least in recent years) for a first offense depending largely on whether you admit you were wrong and agree to remedial training so it doesn't happen again.

I haven't run across any statistics on ADIZ violations, but interceptions happen frequently for clueless VFR pilots violating TFRs, the DC FRZ/SFRA, Resticted areas and Prohibited areas.

  • $\begingroup$ Important clarification: the US does not mandate that foreign aircraft not intending to land on US territory file a flight plan or even respond to identification requests: 2009-2017.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2013/11/218013.htm. Otherwise their fight against the Chinese ADIZ claims would be undermined. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 18:01

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