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Tue, Feb 05, 2008

Small Plane Busts Super Bowl TFR

Pilot Was Unaware Restricted Space Included BXK

Despite a widely-reported TFR and the highly visible presence of US military aircraft over the Phoenix, AZ metropolitan area this weekend, a small plane apparently violated the no-fly zone Sunday over Glendale.

The Cessna 172 apparently flew about seven miles into the restricted area covering a 30-mile radius around University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday afternoon, reports The Arizona Republic. The incident occurred about 20 minutes before kickoff of Super Bowl XLII.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the plane, which was traveling from Ryan Field Airport (RYN) in Tucson to Buckeye Municipal Airport (BXK), was intercepted by military aircraft, and directed to land at Buckeye.

There is some confusion about what type of aircraft, flying for what agency, intercepted the Cessna. The FAA initially believed it was an Arizona ANG F-16, but a National Guard spokesman said those planes did not intercept the plane. The jet wasn't from nearby Luke Air Force Base, either.

Buckeye police reported a DHS Black Hawk helicopter was involved, but as of Monday afternoon those claims hadn't been verified. Department of Homeland Security officials did meet the pilot at the Buckeye airport, and questioned him.

A spokesman for the airport said the pilot wasn't aware Buckeye was included in the TFR. He was flying to the airport to pick up a passenger.

The plane never came closer than 20 miles to the stadium, officials said. It was the only airspace bust during the Super Bowl.

"For the most part, pilots do a good job being aware of where they should or shouldn't fly," Gregor said.

FMI: www.tfr.faa.gov

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