Ariz. Air National Guard trains to protect skies during Super Bowl

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Ever since 9/11, the airspace over stadiums during Super Bowls has been restricted. That's why the Arizona Air National Guard is conducting practice missions ahead of the big game.

Arizona Air Guard F-16 Fighting Falcons from Tucson, with aerial refueling support from KC-135 aircraft from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, will enforce the FAA's temporary flight restriction over the NFL's championship game on Feb. 1.

"It's a total-force operation," says Major Rex Webber. "We want to protect the skies so the civilians can enjoy the football game."

"We have eyes in the sky," Maj. Webber continued. "We have a western air defense, and we have an eastern air defense. They work with the FAA and they have great radar coverage. They are the eyes in the sky that let us know what's going on."

This Super Bowl mission falls in line with the Air Guard's 24-7-365 mission of protecting U.S. skies as part of Operation Noble Eagle. Noble Eagle, which began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Since its inception, The Arizona's 162nd Wing in Tucson has performed this mission for the Southwest United States.