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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Aerial show may start early for Super Bowl XLVI

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Private planes -- like this Citation from Waukegan, Ill., visiting the Putnam County Airport in Greencastle earlier this week -- are expected to begin descending upon smaller area airports as Super Bowl air traffic intensifies as Sunday's game at Indianapolis nears.
With Sunday's Super Bowl featuring the first-ever matchup of former Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks, fans at Lucas Oil Stadium might expect Tom Brady and Eli Manning to fill the air with footballs.

While that might be symbolically true, the air around Indianapolis in reality will be filled with airplanes the next few days.

Besides all the commercial flights bringing Super Bowl XLVI fans to Indianapolis for the weekend, an estimated 800 reservations have been made for corporate jets and charters to land and park at Indianapolis.

John Layne
With those numbers, not only is Indianapolis International just about maxed out but so are Mt. Comfort (aka Indianapolis Regional) and Indianapolis Executive Airport.

That has begun to push the air traffic to outlying airports to land -- from Putnam County Airport on Greencastle's East Side to Bloomington, Terre Haute, Columbus and Greenwood.

While the local airport may have only a handful of plane reservations thus far, the closer things get to Sunday's big game, the more likely that list will grow says John Layne, manager of the Putnam County Airport and general manager of Dixie Chopper Air.

"We're just kind of waiting now," Layne said, acknowledging that having both teams coming from the East Coast instead of being within driving distance (such as Green Bay and Pittsburgh might have been), the odds are more planes will be circling the central Indiana skies.

"We can pretty easily get 10 large jets and 30 smaller airplanes in here," Layne said of the local facility. "I'm talking business airplanes, of course, not airlines."

While the comforts of flying in a private plane seem obvious, another reason to fly this way is to avoid the hassles of getting in and out on a commercial airline.

Organizers originally thought outlying airports would be buzzing by now, but Indianapolis has been able to use part of the Fed X ramp and the U.S. Customs and U.S. Mail areas, as well as the old terminal site at Indianapolis.

"That's a lot of concrete out there," Layne said. "So it might be a big thing (for us) or it might not."

Regardless, the local airport and the Dixie Chopper Business Center Hotel need to be prepared, he said.

In fact, all of the rooms at the business center hotel have been booked for Sunday, taken by charter company flight crews that will go back and forth to Indianapolis via limo.

Super Bowl Committee volunteers are manning a desk that is set up at the business center to assist travelers and staff.

The local airport has only three employees, Layne, his son Jacob and Doug Miller, so volunteers from the local Aviation Board, Putnam County Airport Appreciation Days group and the Experimental Aircraft Association will be helping out. They will be on hand to help walk people to their planes, man the radio when necessary and provide general airport assistance.

Layne said the Super Bowl air traffic is beyond compare with other Indianapolis events.

"We don't get that much from Indianapolis events," he said, adding that the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard don't generate the kind of air traffic they used to or anything close to the Super Bowl barrage.

Overall, Indianapolis is expecting much more air traffic than the typical Super Bowl venue, Layne said.

Sunday morning and early afternoon before the game, and again Sunday night and Monday morning are the traditional heavy air traffic times for the Super Bowl. It shouldn't be any different this year, especially since the weather appears to be no obstacle.

Between an hour before the game and midnight Sunday (after the Lombardi Trophy awards ceremony), a temporary no-fly zone will be imposed in a 30-mile radius of Lucas Oil Stadium at Indianapolis.

Putnam County Airport will be unaffected -- just barely.

"We're 31 miles out," Layne said.

The Putnam County Airport runway is 4,987 feet long and 100 feet wide. It offers fuel, but does not have a control tower or an instrument landing system.

On an average day, organizers note, an estimated 130 private planes either take off or land at central Indiana airports.

About 800 private planes are going to be arriving -- everything from single-engine aircraft to jets carrying a number of people to watch the New York Giants and the New England Patriots.

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here's hoping the NFL players union does the right thing and cancels that game.

-- Posted by mickhamblen on Thu, Feb 2, 2012, at 5:15 PM

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