Super Bowl Security: In the Sky

Updated: January 30, 2018 06:53 PM

Keeping the airspace safe over the Super Bowl is a coordinated process, and the planning has been going on for about a year now.


Tuesday, members of some of the teams who have been working on this met at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, to share how they're contributing to this major event for Minnesota.

Customs and Border Protection had a Blackhawk helicopter on display. The agency will have three of those and three other helicopters, ready for the mission.

Mike Fuller, an Air Interdiction Agent with CBP, shared what their responsibilities are. "We'll be ready with our quick reaction force, if something happens, meaning we'll be within response distance. We can do certain aircraft intercepts, depending on altitude and location and type of aircraft. And we're going to be providing a video downlink, so we can get eyes on anything that ground law enforcement needs."

Pilots from the 148th Fighter Wing are also ready. Lt. Col. Paul Thornton said they love being asked to provide security. "We spend most of our time training to go overseas, and protect America's interests overseas. But this time it's air defense in America, and to protect Minnesotans. To have a chance to do that, is a great feeling."

Intercepts are necessary when an aircraft enters the temporary flight restriction area. The F-16s or the CBP helicopters would be called out to communicate with the pilot, to get them out of the restricted area.

Civil Air Patrol pilots provide help during training, by playing the role of an aircraft that needs to be intercepted. One of them spoke to us on Tuesday. Lt. Col. Kevin Dunlevy said, "Civil Air Patrol has given me a purpose for flying." Along with this mission, they do search and rescue for people and planes and take cadets up on flights.

And speaking of all things flying, Andy Gold, Air Traffic Special Operations from the FAA, added, "This is it! We're excited to kick it off, and have a safe, secure, and efficient airspace, and get going, for Super Bowl 52."

As for the big game, Dunlevy summed up it best, for Minnesota fans. "I'd be happier if the Vikings were in it."

Eyewitness News plans on going up for a training flight on Wednesday. Stay tuned!


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