Civil Air Patrol is participating for the 22rd straight year in an exercise to help the U.S. Air Force ensure the safety and security of airspace around Super Bowl LVII, set for Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
To help Air Force fighter aircrews maintain their proficiency, Civil Air Patrol, acting in its role as the Air Force auxiliary, provides aircraft that fly into simulated restricted airspace as a target of interest so the military jet crews can practice intercept techniques. The Air Force pilots intercept the CAP aircraft, make radio contact, and guide it out of the restricted airspace.
Training flights occurred in October and November, with Arizona Wing pilots flying single-engine aircraft intercepted by Air Force F-16 fighters or a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Black Hawk helicopter.
CAP is involved in similar exercises around the U.S. throughout the year to test airspace security. The exercises, known as Falcon Hawk, are carried out as part of Operation Noble Eagle, launched by First Air Force/Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR) after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Along with CONR’s Western Air Defense Sector and CAP, the exercises are conducted in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration and Customs and Border Protection.
In typical training exercises, two Civil Air Patrol single-engine planes fly as intercept targets for Air National Guard fighter jets. CAP’s “low and slow” aircraft are considered ideal targets for these exercises. A third CAP aircraft, known as a “high bird,” may fly as a communications hub coordinating radio traffic from participants on the ground and in the air.
“Our Air Force auxiliary, CAP, comprised mostly of volunteers, is a national treasure. They continue to make significant contributions day in and day out, to include their work in support of this national sporting event,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Kirk Pierce, commander, CONR – First Air Force.
The Federal Aviation Administration routinely implements Temporary Flight Restrictions around major events like the Super Bowl, VIP flights, and major disasters. Airspace around these TFR areas is restricted from all general aviation traffic for a specific radius to ensure no aircraft enter. The TFR is enforced by the Air Force, which has fighter aircraft patrolling the area during the restriction.
Acting as a Total Force partner and official civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, Civil Air Patrol helps First Air Force rapidly respond to non-military threats domestically in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage, and provide humanitarian assistance.
Maj. Margot Myers
Public Affairs Officer