Fla. Wing Flies in Super Bowl Security Exercise
Capt. Sybrian Castleman
Public Affairs Officer
The Florida Wing took to the skies Tuesday in support of a North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) joint air defense exercise in preparation for Super Bowl LIV, set for Sunday in Miami.
The exercise demonstrated NORAD’s ability to rapidly respond to aircraft that violate the Federal Aviation Administration no-fly zone over the stadium and surrounding areas during the Super Bowl.
“As the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Civil Air Patrol provides highly trained, dedicated members who make such exercises possible,” said Lt. Gen. Marc Sasseville, commander of NORAD’s Continental U.S. Region.
The FAA has issued temporary flight restrictions before and during the game for aircraft and drones around Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Beach Convention Center and Bayfront Park.
“We establish No Drone Zones and TFRs to protect fans enjoying the game in the stadium and at other venues within the no-fly zone,” said Rick Breitenfeldt, representing the FAA at the exercise.
CAP members also assisted in delivering the TFR notices to airports across south Florida last week.
National and local media also observed the training from the air. During the air intercept exercise, reporters from Fox News flew aboard a U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle fighter jet and a CAP Cessna 182 to see first-hand what happens when an unauthorized aircraft enters the flight restriction area.
Fox News’ Christopher Pontius flew in the CAP plane.
"It was a unique and rewarding experience to fly with Civil Air Patrol during the simulated air intercept,” Pontius said afterward. “The pilots were very professional and helped me get some great footage of the F-15s from that unique vantage point in the sky.
“Being somewhat familiar with aviation and the local geography in which we were operating, I was impressed with the skill that the Cessna pilots carried out the mission,” he said.
The Cessna’s pilot, 1st Lt. Todd Wean, said that “the fighter pilots show real skill. There is no way that an aircraft would be able to miss being intercepted.“ Wean is the Florida Wing’s assistant director of operations.
Other members of the media flew on a Tennessee Air National Guard 134th Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker to observe how the F-15 fighters are refueled in flight to extend the time they can remain aloft during the Super Bowl.
“It was a great experience to fly with the TANG KC-135 crew to observe and photograph refueling operations. Their and the F-15 crew’s professionalism and skill was truly inspirational,” said Hugh Hudson, staff photographer with the South Dade News Leader.
Also participating in the media day exercise were helicopters from the Miami-Dade Police Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Air and Marine Operations.
NORAD conducts air intercept exercises with its interagency partners throughout the year in order to be prepared and have the ability to respond rapidly in providing air security for several national events, including the Super Bowl.
CA plays its part in these exercises, which are carefully planned over many months.
“The wing’s participation in this critical mission reinforces Civil Air Patrol’s role as a member of the U.S. Air Force’s Total Force that leverages the skills of our members to serve our community,” said Col. Luis Garcia, Florida Wing commander.