Protecting the skies over the Super Bowl

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HOPKINS, S.c. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will enforce a temporary flight restriction zone around Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the big game on Sunday. McEntire Joint National Guard Base held a media day earlier this week to showcase how an Aerospace Alert Control Unit prepares for these big events.

This is part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command's (NORAD) routine training that involves multiple agencies at the local, state and federal level.

This particle exercise involved multiple F-16s from the South Carolina Air National Guard intercepting a Cessna 182 flown by the Civil Air Patrol.

“You know when we clean off the wings and do some dog fighting it can sustain a 9-G turn, which is not so great on your neck and back, but the airplane will definitely turn on a dime, which is probably the coolest thing about it,” says Jeff Beckham, an F-16 pilot and director of alert operations at McEntire JNGB.

A KC-135 flown by the Tennessee Air National Guard was also involved to practice aerial refueling missions with the F-16s.

Tech Sergeant Andrew Webber, a boom operator on the KC-135, explained the process and says they, “want them to be at a certain position called the envelope. We have parameters that we have set so if they get outside of that envelope we disconnect and try it again. So they'll move back to 50 feet and we'll connect to them”.

Major Craig Henry, a KC-135 pilot and weapons officer, emphasized the synergy of multiple branches and agencies involved in the process saying, “all of those people have a huge cog in the wheel and we're just another one of those cogs to keep this machine rolling and keeping the friendly skies of America protected”.

These agencies protect the skies across North America 24-7-365.

For security purposes, the specific units chosen for Sunday's mission over Atlanta have not been released.