Savannah Coast Guard Patrols Republican Convention - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

08/30/04

Savannah Coast Guard Patrols Republican Convention

Coast Guard helicopters can intercept unauthorized aircraft. Coast Guard helicopters can intercept unauthorized aircraft.

The Air Station Savannah Coast Guard is patrolling the skies over New York, using new maneuvers to keep the peace during the Republican National Convention this week. The exercise, called the rotary wing air intercept, is designed to keep planes out of restricted airspace, keeping visiting dignitaries and residents safe.

They first learned these maneuvers six months ago in preparation for the G-8 summit.

"It was also utilized for national security events, President Reagan's funeral, Democratic National Convention, and now Republican National Convention," said Lt. Patrick Lineberry.

United States Coast Guard helicopters keep close tabs on aircraft that venture where they don't belong. "Visually we [tell] them, 'Hey, you're going into an airspace you shouldn't. Please turn to the right,'" explained Lt. Lineberry.

"We can either save a life by having that pilot exit the area, or provide the information to NORAD and they will determine the next course of action," said operations officer CDR Jason Church.

The Coast Guard pilots hope all their missions are uneventful. "If you become an unknown target, you will be seen," said CDR Church. "Hopefully we can identify you and get you out of the area. If not, something else is going to happen."

Air Station Savannah was the first unit to train and become operational in the maneuver. 

Reported by: Melanie Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com

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