Super Bowl Traffic Goes Smoothly

The big game was a major victory for FBOs and ATC.

Super Bowl

Super Bowl

** Citation Citations stacked up at Greenwood
Municipal Airport**
Steve Schapiro

Even before the opening kickoff on Sunday night, Super Bowl XLVI smashed one record – the number of private aircraft flying to the game. More than 1,100 private aircraft had parking reservations at area airports for the weekend, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation Aviation Division. And that number doesn't include the hundreds of aircraft that did "quick turns" – dropping passengers off and returning after the game to pick them up.

Indianapolis International Airport maxed out its capacity with 350 aircraft parking at Signature Flight Service and another 400 at Million Air. Runway 14/32 on the north side of the field was closed to provide additional parking for the Gulfstreams, Globals, Challengers, Falcons, Citations and Learjets that came in.

Montgomery Aviation, located at Indianapolis Executive Airport, capped parking reservations at 100 aircraft. It has the only canopy in the area to protect passengers from the elements as they deplane, which came in handy on Saturday as a light rain fell most of the day.

In addition to the many jets flying in, there were a number of King Airs and Pilatus PC-12s parked on ramps, especially at Indianapolis Metro and Eagle Creek Airpark.

Three airports – Indy Executive, Eagle Creek, and Indianapolis Regional had temporary control towers to help manage the flow of traffic. Approach control would relay information to the towers when an aircraft was five to 10 minutes out and the tower would provide visual separation and clearance for landing. For outbound flights, Indianapolis Departure released three aircraft at a time with two-minute separation between take offs, said Dave Swanson, a controller who came in from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to work at Eagle Creek.

Through Sunday afternoon, when the TFR went into effect closing the airports within a 10 nautical mile range of Lucas Oil Stadium at 4:30 p.m., operations were running quite smoothly. Monday morning was more challenging, particularly at Indy International, as taxi times from the ramp to the runway were taking an hour or more for most aircraft. Those taxi times likely seemed longest to Patriots fans.

If logistics at this year’s game seemed a challenge, next year’s will require even greater efforts, as Super Bowl XLVII will return to New Orleans, a city with fewer close-in airports to serve as relievers.