Protecting the Skies over Super Bowl XLVII

Planning to attend the Super Bowl? Lucky enough to have tickets for the Bowl?

If so — and should you have given it any thought — you can rest easier and feel safer while enjoying the game, because, in addition to all other Homeland Security measures, you will be well protected from above by Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) Command Region jet fighters.

As a matter of fact, NORAD pilots will be practicing long before the game to protect the skies around the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

In a news release, NORAD announces that, tomorrow, Tuesday, an exercise named “Falcon Virgo 13-Super Bowl,” held in the greater New Orleans area will allow interagency partners the chance to practice procedures for responding to airspace violations.

In addition, the news release says in part:

New Orleans residents can expect flights to begin around 7 a.m. CST tomorrow and continue for about an hour, officials said. If inclement weather occurs, the exercise will take place the following morning, and if bad weather continues, officials will then make a decision to postpone or cancel the exercise.

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These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure the Continental U.S. NORAD Region’s rapid response capability, officials said, noting that the Continental U.S. NORAD Region has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the United States since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the nation’s ongoing response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“When it comes to defending America’s skies, whether it’s Super Bowl Sunday or any other day, the men and women of the Continental U.S. NORAD Region and America’s AOC are always on duty,” Clarke said. “We are America’s airmen on the watch.”

Since 9/11, Continental U.S. NORAD Region fighters have responded to more than 5,000 possible air threats in the United States and have flown more than 62,500 sorties with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System and air-to-air-refueling aircraft for Operation Noble Eagle.

NORAD said Monday the fighters plan a one-hour drill over New Orleans on Tuesday starting at 7 a.m. local time.

The Times-Picayune adds:

During Super Bowl XLVII Sunday, the government will establish a no-fly zone centered on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and pilots have been warned already that entering the area without permission could bring anything from a talk with federal agents to civil fines to, worse, missiles. “The United States Government may use deadly force against the airborne aircraft, if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security threat,” the FAA said Thursday in flight advisory, or “notice to airmen.”

The no-fly zone will be in effect during hours before and after the game Sunday, meaning unauthorized aircraft will not be allowed within a 10-mile radius of the Super Dome, from the ground to 18,000 feet up, according to FAA documents. That includes even hang gliders and hot-air balloons, according to the notice.

The only aircraft that will be allowed in the ring will be military, law enforcement, air ambulance and other authorized aircraft, such as regularly scheduled commercial airliners, all of which must coordinate with the FBI, according to the notice.

Enjoy the game.

F-16 Image: U.S. Air Force

  

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

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