The Italian Almanac

jet fighter

Italian News - April 9

Acting on a tip that a Serbian plane was carrying a bomb, Italian authorities on high alert for Pope John Paul II's funeral Friday scrambled F-16 jet fighters to force down one plane, while police stopped another on the ground from taking off, the Air Force said.

No threat was found on either plane, but the action tested the high-strung defenses Italy put in place to protect some 200 dignitaries and millions of pilgrims who flocked to Rome for the funeral. Both incidents occurred about three hours after the ceremonies ended.

Two F-16 jet fighters warplanes intercepted a rented executive jet and forced it to land at a military airport about 25 miles southwest of Rome after receiving a tip that it was carrying a bomb.

The Lear Jet 131, which had a Serbian tail number and a Serbian crew, was searched by paramilitary carabinieri officers who found nothing. The plane came from Belgrade and was hired to pick up the president of Macedonia and his delegation and take them back to Skopje.