"Shot out of the sky"

The pilot of a plane that was intercepted by the military earlier this month said Tuesday he thought he was going to get "shot out of the sky."

"There was no doubt in my mind," said Hayden L. "Jim" Sheaffer, who also revealed that he was handcuffed and interrogated by federal authorities when he subsequently landed his single-engine &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2002/12/14/40793.html ' target=_blank>Cessna aircraft May 11 in nearby Frederick, Md.

Appearing on NBC's "Today" show with his lawyer, Sheaffer, who has had his pilot's license suspended, held his thumb and index finger about an inch apart to dramatize how close he thought he was to being shot down.

Sheaffer's interview came the day after another such incident, this time involving a plane that violated the restricted air space of the capital city, forcing the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2001/07/12/9913.html ' target=_blank>Senate to briefly recess. The incident involving Sheaffer had led to the scrambling of military aircraft and the panicked evacuation of thousands of people, informs ABC News.

McDermott's version of events contrasts sharply with government accounts of the hectic minutes around noon on May 11 when scores of lawmakers, White House officials and other top government workers were ushered to safety as Sheaffer's plane flew nearby.

McDermott said his client would accept a lesser penalty but said the one-year license revocation was excessive.

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