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Continental U.S. NORAD Region hosts super bowl media day

  • Published
  • By Michael Dougherty

Members of the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region directed Super Bowl LV air defense media day, Friday, January 29, 2021. Six local media outlets participated in the event, which provided them with the opportunity to hear and speak with agency partners from the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, FAA, Tampa Police Department, and Civil Air Patrol highlighting how they partner with NORAD in protecting America’s skies. Members from the CONR team traveled to Tampa to conduct the event, while others joined from throughout the state to provide support.   

Lt. Col. Alex Edwards, 125th Fighter Wing, Detachment 1 commander, arrived via F-15C from Jacksonville Air National Guard Base to help educate media members on NORAD's role in securing the skies over Raymond James Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday. Edwards joined other subject matter experts to discuss their respective roles in providing security for the event. “Just as the Buccaneers and Chiefs train hard before they step on the field, so does NORAD," said Edwards. "All NORAD units throughout the country routinely train to hone their air defense skills and ensure safe skies over North America. When game day is here, you watch the game, and we’ll watch the skies.”  

Media day highlighted NORAD’s 24/7, 365-day mission of protecting our nation’s skies prior the Super Bowl LV. 125th Fighter Wing F-15C aircraft, 6th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker, Customs and Border Protection UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, Tampa Police Department Bell 407 helicopter, and Civil Air Patrol C-172 aircraft were on display during the media day. 

The event showcased CONR's role with agency partners to protect America’s skies. The 125th Fighter Wing is just one of multiple military branches nationwide capable of responding to potential Super Bowl LV air threats. During the day’s activities, media had an opportunity to learn more about NORAD’s Operation Noble Eagle mission which began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Its continuing mission is to protect the skies from terrorist air attacks from inside or outside North America. Media had the opportunity to hear from subject matter experts from NORAD, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Aviation Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Tampa Police Department, and Civil Air Patrol.,

Customs and Border Protection Supervisory Air Interdiction Agent Todd Gayle was one of the many interagency partners on hand to support the event. Gayle and his team flew in the UH-60 Black Hawk that was on display, and fielded questions from reporters while demonstrating the aircraft's features and capabilities. "We are working with the Tampa Police and the Sheriff's office to enforce the Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR). Also, we can provide near real-time video of events on the ground, instantaneously broadcast to their command centers, improving their) situational awareness," Gayle said.

Air and Marine Operations, to which he, his crew and the aircraft belong, has as its main mission counter terrorism operations, and protecting our nation's borders. Supporting the Super Bowl enables them to exercise those capabilities as well as support local law enforcement as part of a "comprehensive, multi-layered approach." he said.                                            

“NORAD is set to protect the skies above one of America's biggest sporting nights, Super Bowl Sunday, scheduled for Feb. 7. NORAD’s support to the Super Bowl has occurred annually for the past twenty years. NORAD is responsible for deterring, denying and if necessary, defeating any aviation threat to the United States and Canada. As NORAD’s Continental U.S. Region (CONR), we will watch the airspace above the Raymond James Stadium for Super Bowl LV. Our fighter jets will be enforcing the Federal Aviation Administration's temporary 30-mile no-fly zone above the stadium and in the greater Tampa area leading up to and during the game,” according to Royal Canadian Air Force Maj. Gen. Derek Joyce, Deputy Commander, CONR, Headquartered at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.   

For more than 60 years, NORAD aircraft have identified and intercepted potential air threats to North America in the execution of its aerospace warning and aerospace control missions, and maintain a watchful eye over Canadian and U.S. internal waterways and maritime approaches under its maritime warning mission.