Ga., S.C. Wings Participate in Super Bowl Security Preparations
Civil Air Patrol aircrews in Georgia and South Carolina have wrapped up exercises this week with NORAD-tasked F-16s, refueling tankers and helicopters in preparation for Sunday’s Super Bowl in Atlanta.
In order to test responses, systems and equipment, the North American Aerospace Defense Command continuously conducts exercises with a variety of scenarios, including airspace restriction violations, hijackings and responding to unknown aircraft. All NORAD exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled.
The training exercises held this week demonstrated NORAD’s ability to enforce the Federal Aviation Administration’s no-fly zones, or Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs), around Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Super Bowl LIII.
This week’s exercises were coordinated by NORAD in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration and with interagency and organizational partners, including Civil Air Patrol.
On Tuesday, media representatives from national and statewide agencies witnessed the role of CAP and its Cessna airplanes in preparing agency partners for an air defense mission. Planes from CAP’s South Carolina Wing, acting as errant general aviation aircraft, simulated the need for F-16s from the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing to respond quickly and effectively to protect the skies around Atlanta.
“The Civil Air Patrol members who participated in Tuesday’s mission in our planning department, communications area and aircrew are representative of the professional members throughout the United States,” said Col. Lee Safley, South Carolina Wing commander. “Air defense and emergency services missions that our pilots help NORAD and other partner agencies train for are carefully orchestrated exercises, which provide the necessary training to protect our skies.”
Tuesday’s media practice was preceded by similar aircraft intercept exercises conducted by aircrews from CAP’s Georgia Wing. “Five Super Bowl LIII exercises have been planned and executed in the Atlanta area by Georgia Wing over the past eight months,” said Maj. Brad Haynes, the incident commander for CAP, adding that the missions that have been ongoing in Georgia since May 2018 have progressively included more agencies.
“We flew the final mission on Wednesday,” Haynes said. “That exercise was designed to include the entire system working together.”
Participants included the 169th Fighter Wing; the Alabama ANG’s 117th Air Refueling Wing; Customs and Border Patrol Air and Marine Operations; FAA representatives from Headquarters, Atlanta Center; Atlanta Terminal Radar Approach Control; and the Eastern Air Defense Sector.
TFR packets, explaining the reasons for the no-fly zone and educating general aviation pilots about how to react if they violate the TFR and are intercepted, were distributed in advance of the Super Bowl.
“We delivered the packets to 62 airports, including not only those in the TFR itself, but also those surrounding the TFR,” said 1st Lt. Steve Strong, the Georgia Wing’s assistant director of emergency services, who coordinated the TFR mission. “The main purpose was to not only keep the big game safe but to keep the pilots in the area safe as well.”
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the FAA routinely implements no-fly zones incluaround major events to ensure no general aviation airplanes enter within a specified radius. During Super Bowl LIII, NORAD aircraft will enforce the actual TFR.
Defense of the homelands is NORAD’s top priority. NORAD is on alert around the clock, every day. For 60 years, NORAD aircraft have identified and intercepted potential air threats to North America in the execution of its aerospace warning, aerospace control and maritime warning missions.