Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2018
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, ALA. – A demonstration of an airplane flying into restricted Super Bowl airspace was held January 30, 2018 with Minnesota Air National Guard F-16s intercepting a Cessna from the Minnesota Wing of the Civial Air Patrol. “CAP airplanes are used throughout the year to assist the Air Force with training to protect the skies across the country,” said Col. James Garlough, commander of CAP’s Minnesota Wing. “The CAP showed the media how it was done on February 4, 2018, around U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis during Super Bowl LII.” Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Federal Aviation Administration routinely implements no-fly zones, called Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs), around major events to ensure that no general aviation airplanes enter a specified radius. Air Force fighter aircraft enforce the TFRs during the time of the event.
The demonstration, hosted by the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing at Duluth Air National Guard Base, simulated an aircraft that enters the no-fly zone around the Super Bowl being intercepted. Air Force pilots flew alongside the CAP plane, made radio contact, and guided it out of restricted airspace.
This mission marks CAP’s 16th year as a participant in North American Aerospace Defense Command air-defense exercises designed to protect the airspace over the Super Bowl. CAP is involved in similar exercises around the U.S. throughout the year to test airspace security. The air-defense exercises are carried out as part of “Operation Noble Eagle,” coordinated by the Continental U.S. NORAD Region. The exercises are conducted in coordination with the FAA and other interagency organizations as appropriate.
The Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of the continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), and is credited with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs (www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com).