Aircraft violation drill practiced above Levi's Stadium ahead of Super Bowl 50
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KTVU) - It's not often you go looking for a confrontation with an F-15 fighter jet, but that's essentially what the Civil Air Patrol set out to do at the Oakland Airport.
During the Super Bowl, a TFR, or temporary flight restriction, will be in place to prevent planes from flying near Levi's Stadium.
Col. Jon Stokes of the Civil Air Patrol told KTVU it's part of stepped up security to keep out unauthorized aircraft.
"What we're going to do today is we're going to simulate a general aviation aircraft violating that restricted airspace."
The exercise called for the C.A.P. Cessna 281 to climb to 10,500 feet and then turn toward Levi's Stadium and the no fly zone.
Within minutes a Citation jet appeared behind the plane and closed in.
The jet is from the Department of Homeland Security and the pilot tells the C.A.P. plane over the radio it's approaching the no fly zone and to turn away.
Maj. Noel Luneau is piloting the Cessna, and as part of the drill he disregards the Citation jet's commands.
"Our exercise instructions were to ignore it as someone just flying along and seeing a business jet."
Shortly after that the Citation jet turned and disappeared.
Then came the heavy hitter, an F-15 Eagle fighter jet from the California Air National Guard base in Fresno.
That was enough to perk up Maj. Luneau.
"It's much different seeing an Air Force fighter versus a Citation jet. We paid attention to that," he told KTVU.
Fighter jets fly at supersonic speeds and are designed for air to air combat.
The Cessna was crawling along at about a hundred miles an hour.
"What we did today is replicate a target, a slow moving target with our Cessna 182," said Luneau.
A small Cessna is the kind of plane that occasionally strays into no-fly zones.
Almost always it's because a pilot made a mistake and unknowingly wandered into restricted air space.
But there's always concern of something more sinister. Col. Stokes says the Air Force is prepared for that.
"The Air Force has a number of options and obviously we don't want to even consider the fact that they may have to take drastic measures."
During another part of the exercise a Blackhawk helicopter flew over Levi's Stadium and intercepted another Civil Air Patrol Cessna.
The Civil Air Patrol and the Air Force deemed the drill a success, with the hope that the skills sharpened here won't have to be put in play on Super Bowl Sunday.
The Civil Air Patrol is an all-volunteer organization that's an auxiliary unit of the Air Force. It's currently celebrating its 75th anniversary.