A media team from West Palm Beach, Florida, had a front row seat March 22 for a regularly scheduled North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) air defense exercise.
Reporter Charlie Keegan and camera operator Kaan Pala from NBC affiliate WPTV joined the exercise at Homestead Air Reserve Base to take part in a media flight designed to demonstrate how NORAD performs intercept operations.
Keegan flew with a Civil Air Patrol aircrew aboard a CAP aircraft designated as a temporary flight restriction, or TFR, violator for the exercise. Pala stayed on the ground to video record the launch of Florida Air National Guard jets.
“Our role simulating a general aviation track of interest during these types of training missions provides a realistic opportunity for CONR (Continental U.S. NORAD Region) aviators to practice enforcing TFRs,” said the pilot for the flight, Maj. Richard Farmer of the Marco Island Senior Squadron. “CAP has supported CONR numerous training events over the years. We have formed a great partnership with our fellow Air Force pilots and Airmen as we work as a team to defend the homeland.”
"TFRs are established by the FAA; the Air Force safely enforces them," said Capt. Brannon Ferguson, 125th Fighter Wing, Detachment 1, director of operations.
CONR – 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) Public Affairs arranged the media flight at the request of the Palm Beach area TV station. CONR-1AF (AFNORTH) Public Affairs said the flight provided a good opportunity to get information to the south Florida public about the TFR in place over the Palm Beach area.
"Most TFR violations are unintentional, and it is the Air Force pilots job to safely escort the errant pilot out of the area," said Maj. Andrew Scott, CONR-1AF (AFNORTH) Public Affairs officer. He emphasized the importance for pilots to "check NOTAMs (notes to airmen) and fly informed".