Ala. Air National Guard selected for mission to protect U.S. airspace

Updated: Sep. 11, 2019 at 2:41 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The 187th Fighter Wing unit of the Alabama Air National Guard has been selected for a mission to protect the U.S. “homeland” from terrorist attacks.

The mission is called Operation Noble Eagle, which Staff Sgt. Jared Rand said was created after the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

“Before 9/11, it wasn’t even something people thought of really. The threat from civilian aircraft, or from hijacked aircraft, or just making sure people stay away of those no fly zones we have now,” Rand said.

Alabama participated in that Operation Noble Eagle mission in 2001 for about a year once it was created. Now the Alabama Air National Guard has been chosen once again to go on this three-month mission beginning in October of 2019.

“So if there’s airspace that people shouldn’t go into or flying into, we’re the ones who enforce that,” Rand said.

As part of the mission, the Alabama National Guard will protect Federal Aviation Administration dictated no fly zones, for instance, when there are large events. Rand said they will make sure small civilian aircraft and passenger aircraft are not in those fly zones.

“So we’ll go in and intercept them. Figure out who they are and why they’re there and then kind of make them turn around and get out of that airspace,” he said.

Capt. Ian Cutting is a pilot for the 187th Fighter Wing who will be on the mission.

“Ultimately I joined the Guard out of a fulfillment to serve this country. A lot of that had to do for 9/11 for me. I was at high school at the time,” said Cutting. “It gave me a vector as far as what I want to do and put a lot of meaning towards serving our country.”

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