The skies over Salt Lake City are being watched very carefully, as part of the record $310 million being spent on security for the Olympic Winter Games.
Three times, private planes have wandered into forbidden airspace, and in another incident, a passenger who allegedly didn't obey security rules on a flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake wound up being detained by security officials.
No one was hurt in any of the incidents and authorities do not believe the disturbance aboard the passenger jet had anything to do with the Olympics.
Delta spokeswoman Rolawn Brown-Evans says the man who was detained - a first class passenger - became belligerent Saturday night after being told that passengers must remain in their seats for the final 30 minutes of the flight.
That rule was put into effect as part of the added security for the Olympics.
On Sunday, Air Force fighters intercepted a private jet flying into restricted Olympic airspace, the third such incident since the games began.
Two other private jets were intercepted Friday, with F-16 fighters escorting one to the ground at the Salt Lake International Airport and forcing another to change its route and land in nearby Brigham City.
"The good news for us is that there was no malicious intent," said Maj. Ed Thomas of the North American Aerospace Defense Command. "The aircraft all complied with instructions and landed."
In the week leading up to the Winter Games, a dozen small planes were intercepted by U.S. Customs Service helicopters for entering the no-fly zone above the Olympic Village.
In all the cases, officials said, pilots were simply unaware of the airspace restrictions or had failed to go through security checks at gateway airports before approaching Salt Lake City.
"Basically, they're pilot-education issues," Thomas said. "As much as we've tried to get out the word, inevitably some aircraft checked out."
The fighter jet interceptions came after restricted airspace was expanded Friday to a radius of 45 miles around the Salt Lake airport.
Thomas said the fighter jets, armed with surface-to-air missiles and 20 millimeter guns, have been enforcing the flight restrictions as part of an unprecedented effort to protect the games.
The jets belong to the Air Force 388th fighter wing at nearby Hill Air Force Base.
"We had ongoing airborne combat air patrol operations," Thomas said.
Airspace is not only restricted in the Salt Lake area during the Olympics, but also above Olympic venues in the mountains outside of the city.
All planes except commercial airliners are required to fly into four gateway airports within a few hours of Salt Lake City, where they are inspected before being allowed to fly into the restricted airspace.
There are 59 different agencies providing the security force for the Olympics. That adds up to almost 16,000 security personnel, including the National Guard.
Athletes have restrictions to remember and have been warned to stay i Olympic areas and follow designated paths.
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