Super Bowl mania: All hands on deck at Indy airports

February 2, 2012

IndyJet at Indianapolis Regional Airport has been deemed the "preferred airport of NFL owners."

The ramp at IndyJet is cleared and ready for a multitude of business jets and larger, even the spaces that the fuel trucks occupy now will be used for aircraft parking.

A Piper Meridian and, in the distance, the FAA mobile tower await a rush of aircraft in town for Super Bowl XLVI.

Golf carts are lined up and ready to be put to use as guests start arriving. IndyJet is expecting most if its air traffic late Saturday into Sunday morning.

Golf carts are lined up and ready to be put to use as guests start arriving. IndyJet is expecting most if its air traffic late Saturday into Sunday morning.

Alissa mans the front desk at IndyJet taking calls and assisting arriving patrons.

Throughout the weekend staff will be dressed as referees.

Super Bowl Committee volunteers are ready to guide and inform arriving guests of all the festivities happing in and around Indianapolis over the weekend.

One of the infamous Super Bowl scarves knitted by loving hands from all across the country. Each scarf comes with a card with the maker's name, city, and materials used. This scarf was knit just down the street from Indianapolis Regional Airport.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport lies just north of the city in Fishers, Ind.--a 15-minute drive from downtown.

Tom Wood Aviation at Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport has its trucks, fuel, and de-icing equipment ready for the influx in aircraft and possible poor weather conditions.

Tom Wood Aviation's Diamond DA-20 parked on the ramp. By the end of the weekend, this ramp also will be full of Cirrus, Pilatus, King Air, and Columbia aircraft.

The heated maintenance hangar at Tom Wood Aviation has been cleaned out and ready for the influx in aircraft.

As Super Bowl XLVI approaches, local airports around Indianapolis are gearing up for the big game and the increase in air traffic.

Some airports are open and fully operational 24 hours a day, adding volunteers to handle the extra load or adjusting staff schedules. Customer Service Manager Erin Lawson of IndyJet (located at Indianapolis Regional Airport), says the fixed-base operator will be adding up to 30 to 40 volunteers per shift plus the 25 full- and part-time staffers. Lawson says these volunteers, some of whom are students of the FBO's Part 141 flight school, will do everything from greeting, refilling coffee, and cleaning up after patrons, to marshaling flights, unloading and loading luggage, and working on the line. Tom Wood Aviation, the FBO at Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport, has around 20 staff members working around the clock to handle the increase in traffic.

Indianapolis Regional Airport, home to IndyJet and the longest runway (other than Indianapolis International) at 5,500 feet, has been fully booked since Jan. 30 with a waiting list. Tim Kaufman, general manager of IndyJet, says the FBO is at maximum capacity, expecting 75 to 80 business jets or larger staying the weekend and another 20 to 30 aircraft making "quick turns." Another 25 or so aircraft had been put on a wait list. Indianapolis Regional Airport, deemed the "preferred airport of NFL owners," has even closed its shorter Runway 16/34 to park aircraft. Kaufman says the majority of reservations include Global Express jets, Gulfstreams, and Falcons. The smallest aircraft with a reservation as of Feb. 1 was a King Air 200.

IndyJet will be setting up an expanded pilot's lounge in its corporate hangar with flat-screen TVs to watch the big game, fireplaces, and an array of hors d'oeuvres and refreshments. The FBO also has rental cars and limos available and a fully operational maintenance hangar for round-the-clock repairs.

Tom Wood Aviation has reservations for 25 to 50 smaller aircraft (Runway 15/33 is 3,850 feet long) and is expecting to pick up some of the overflow from other fully booked airports. Chief Flight Instructor Alex Cook says the majority of aircraft he expects to see include Cirrus, King Air, Pilatus, and Columbia single- and multiengine airplanes. The FBO says it will have the game on its big-screen TVs and will provide game-day snacks and light refreshments for customers. Tom Wood Aviation also will have rental cars and limos available for customers.

Both IndyJet and Tom Wood Aviation are waiving ramp fees in lieu of fuel purchases, and both are prepared for inclement weather as is customary in the Midwest. Tom Wood Aviation invested in a de-icing truck which may come in handy as weather begins to deteriorate through the weekend&mash;although nothing compared to a typical February weekend in Indianapolis.

Along with the FBO's hospitality, the Indianapolis Super Bowl Committee has stationed volunteers at each of the airports to help arriving guests find their way in and around downtown Indianapolis. These volunteers are armed with maps, program and informational guides, and coupon books.

Airspace has also changed in the days leading up to and on Super Bowl Sunday. Indianapolis Regional, Indianapolis Executive, and Eagle Creek Air Park are temporarily classified as Class D airspace with FAA mobile towers in place to control traffic flow. These towers went live Feb. 1 and will remain active through Feb. 6. On Feb. 5 a temporary flight restriction will be in place restricting airspace within a 30-nautical-mile radius of Lucas Oil Stadium and establishing an inner 10-nm-radius “no fly” zone. Although most guests won't notice, there will be an increase in security around all the airports. Kaufman says he is working with the sheriff's department to keep the airport as safe as possible. Cook says the FAA, TSA, and airport authority have been dropping by regularly, and the FBO has increased patrols around the airport.