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Air Force 1st Lt. Andrew Scott, Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2009 –
Some Air Force fighter pilots may miss out on watching Super Bowl XLIII, but for a worthy cause. They will be flying to protect the skies around Raymond James Stadium during the Feb. 1 game in Tampa, Fla.
Airmen flying fighter jets may be visible enforcing the Federal Aviation Administration's temporary flight restriction over the greater Tampa area during the National Football League's championship game, officials said.
"America's [air operations center] will be closely monitoring all air activity while the FAA temporary flight restriction is in place," Air Force Col. David Kriner, commander of the 601st Air and Space Operations Center, said. "The men and women of this [air operations center] monitor the sky 24/7, 365 for the entire continental U.S., and Sunday's special event is another part of our mission set."
Air Force fighters and Customs and Border Patrol assets will be airborne during the game. This interagency partnership helps ensure safety in the sky over the stadium, officials said.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Henry C. "Hank" Morrow, commander for the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, said command officials provide air defense for the protection of the entire continental United States, including for special events such as this year's Super Bowl.
"As America's air defenders, we have a total team mindset," Morrow said. "Special events like this world-renowned sporting event take precise coordination with all mission partners, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and Border Patrol, FAA and local law enforcement."
Continental U.S. NORAD Region flights will have minimal impact on aircraft in the area during the Super Bowl and are not in response to any specific threat, officials said.
"We want citizens to know that we are always on the job, and defending our homeland from air threats is our No. 1 priority," Morrow said.
(Air Force 1st Lt. Andrew Scott serves with the Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command Region/Air Forces Northern public affairs office.)