Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Super Bowl security to include eyes in the sky

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Blackhawk pilot David Grantham is interviewed during a media briefing on air security for Super Bowl at Ellington Field Tuesday, January 31st, 2017. The air defense partners are from the Federal Aviation Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Civil Air Patrol, Oklahoma and Mississippi Air National Guard, and the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region. 

Pilots of F-16 fighter jets, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and other aircraft are preparing to secure the skies on Super Bowl Sunday.

Federal, state and local officials gathered Tuesday at Ellington Field to discuss air security for the big game.

"This is a total team effort," said Lt. Col. Ernest Mayfield with the 138th Fighter Wing, Det. 1 of the Air National Guard. "Just like the Patriots and Falcons are practicing for their big game ... we are practicing as well."

The Federal Aviation Administration is issuing a 30-mile temporary flight restriction between 4 pm and midnight on Sunday centered around NRG Stadium.

The 10-mile radius around NRG Stadium is a no-fly zone. Very few aircraft are authorized in this area, such as planes with scheduled airlines, military aircraft, air ambulance and law enforcement aircraft.

If someone attempts to or, more likely, unknowingly flies into the area with the temporary flight restriction, then officials will attempt to radio them. If that doesn't work, fighter jets or other aircraft will be forced to intercept them.

"We try not to startle anyone," Mayfield said. "We try to give them plenty of warning."

Customs and Border Protection and the Houston Police Department's Air Support Division will be available to assist in intercepting aircraft if needed.

These two organizations will also be taking video from the skies to help provide perspective to their counterparts on the ground.

"We're their eyes in the sky," said Sgt. Kurt Overby with HPD's Air Support Division.

Original article can be found here:

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