North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, is flying high over Nebraska skies today. John Cornelio is the chief spokesman for NORAD and tells us exercise flight training is taking place today in the vicinity of Lincoln to Sioux Falls. Cornelio says people should not be nervous when if they see fighter jets in close proximity to general aviation aircrafts. This is a drill.
“Are carefully planned exercises, closely controlled to ensure NORAD’s rapid response capability in case of an air incident. These flights have been going on since Operation Noble Eagle has started which was basically the military’s response to the Sept. 11th attacks and every exercise flight utilizes scenario to test NORAD’s response.”
Unless you live around Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, many Nebraskans are not used to seeing fighter aircraft. Cornelio says they will be flying very close to general aviation aircraft and again, there is nothing to worry about.
“General public out there is not alarmed with what they may be seeing because what you can see is NORAD fighter aircraft in close proximity with general aviation aircraft as they practice their intercept and identification procedures. It is important to know that the general aviation aircraft are part of the exercise and not something we just intercept so it is all part of a very planned, very carefully controlled exercise to include the general aviation aircraft as well participating.”
Cornelio says NORAD has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the U-S and Canada since the Sept. 11th attacks.
“We’ve been conducting these things for nine years. A lot of folks have recently have heard about NORAD’s response, to lets say a general aviation aircraft but also civil aircraft. We respond every time. We feel it is necessary if there is a threat in the air, we take every one of these very seriously and we have responded to over 33-hundred of these since Sept. 11th.”
Cornelio says this is one of many scenarios in practice response drills. Others include counter-drug operations, aircraft in distress, hijacking situations and unknown aircraft just to name a few. Another drill was conducted today between Bismarck, N.D. to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.