EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (KMSP) - Operating out of Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be the eyes in the sky on Super Bowl Sunday.
Monday afternoon, Fox 9 took a ride on one of three Black Hawk helicopters that will conduct surveillance over the Twin Cities this week.
Traveling at more than a thousand feet and at a 120 miles an hour, the Black Hawk is big, loud and fast.
“I assume those individuals in their home don't want to hear a helicopter rattling things around,” said Michael Fuller of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “So we're not going to be very low, we'll be high enough we won't be a nuisance to anyone."
On game day, the Black Hawks will carry a rapid deployment force from Homeland Security. In the event of an emergency, a squad can scramble to just about any corner of the cities in a few minutes. The Black Hawks will also intercept any stray aircraft that might wander into 32 miles of restricted air space. With the exception of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, every other airport will be locked down.
"So if an aircraft comes into the temporary flight restriction that's not supposed to be there, we'll attempt an intercept and move the aircraft away and land and have a chat and see what's going on,” said Fuller.
Other planes and helicopters, from Customs and Border Protection, will be providing radar and a live video feed to a central command center. The Super Bowl is considered a Level One National Security Event, with a VIP crowd and an audience of millions. The Black Hawks will be hard to miss, which is exactly the point.
"We know those events have potential - they're an attractive target,” said Fuller. "It's always good to be out there, as a deterrent more than anything."
You may see some helicopters flying very low, near 300 feet. They will be doing some aerial mapping and geographical surveys. Some of these planes and helicopters will be unmarked.
As for drones, the crews told Fox 9 drones are usually spotted from the ground. The only time they see drones is when they're about to run into them.