Angels require more security at airport

July 1, 2010


July 01--TRAVERSE CITY -- The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are in town, and Cherry Capital Airport workers know it.

Airport security tightens every other year when the Navy's flight demonstration team comes to northern Michigan for the annual National Cherry Festival, though airline passengers in the terminal may never notice. The Blue Angels tend to draw plenty of attention, so security workers try to make sure the public doesn't get too close.

"All the aircraft are parked at the U.S. Coast Guard property, which is a secure area," said Stephen Cassens, airport director.

No security measures change inside the airport terminal, but ground crews bump up their activity.

Motorists tend to congregate along Garfield Avenue and Three Mile Road to catch a better glimpse at the high-performance jets during practice runs and during air shows. It usually doesn't cause problems, but security workers keep a close eye on the areas.

"People will stop and park to watch. They know there are better spots, so they don't stay long," said Lori Jones, airport operations supervisor. "The day of the air show is probably the worst."

Kevin Klein, assistant airport director, said security workers will do more frequent perimeter checks around the airport's fence line while the Blue Angels are here.

"I think people know about the security that's out there, and everybody stays respectful," Klein said.

Airport workers also sweep runways every day when the Blue Angels are here to minimize debris. They also must coordinate with commercial airlines because no flights in or out of Traverse City occur when the jets are in the sky.

"We try to plan and adjust for that," Klein said.

Some inbound flights will be slowed to delay their arrival, he said.

The Blue Angels practiced on Wednesday and will do so again today, in preparation for air shows on Saturday and Sunday that begin at 12:45 p.m.