White House Protected by Shoulder-Fired Missiles NewsMax.com Secret Service agents stationed at the White House are equipped with shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles to guard against the kind of attack security officials feared was underway when a small plane strayed into restricted airspace over the presidential residence Wednesday night. Concern over the incident mounted on Thursday, after it became clear that F-16's stationed at Andrews Air Force Base took a full 13 minutes after being alerted just to get aloft. By then the intruding two-passenger Cessna 182 had left the restricted area on its own. The plane was intercepted at 8:13 p.m., 11 minutes after it had left White House airspace, with the F-16's escorting the plane to a Richmond, Va., airport. But just minutes earlier, the plane had gotten to within 4 miles of the White House - a scant two minutes away at the Cessna's cruising speed. Though the Secret Service evacuated White House staff, President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush were not told about the incident till the next day. "I didn't even know about this until this morning when I heard it on the news," Mrs. Bush said yesterday. Officials have yet to explain why the first couple were left exposed to possible attack while most in the White House were ordered to evacuate. Law enforcement officials told the New York Daily News, however, that the Bushes were never in any real danger. "Officials won't talk about it, but the Secret Service has shoulder fired-missiles ready on the White House roof," the paper explained. The White House missiles were apparently requisitioned sometime after a Sept., 1994 incident where a crazed pilot with a history of mental problems was able to crash a stolen Cessna 172 onto White House grounds. The plane crashed into the South Lawn and hit a magnolia tree near the Rose Garden but not directly hit the White House itself. The presidential mansion, however, did sustain minor damage. Commenting on the episode at the time, retired Adm. Eugene Carroll, a former Mediterranean fleet commander leading the Center for Defense Information, told the Orlando Sun-Sentinel at that a well-trained pilot on a suicide mission would have to maneuver for less than 30 seconds to hit the White House. "You're not going to stop him," Carroll contended. "My conclusion is that providing effective air defense for the White House with acceptable risk factors is probably an impossibility."