Olympic Flight Restrictions In Effect

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Flight restrictions for the London Olympics went into effect Sunday and while the Bobbies on the street still don't carry guns, those enforcing the no-fly zone will be packing plenty of heat. Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, the Olympics air security commander, showed reporters some of the equipment that will at first dissuade and then, if necessary, prevent aircraft from violating the closed airspace. It includes fully armed Typhoon fighters and Puma helicopters carrying snipers. "As a last resort, we will have lethal force as an option," said the Air Vice-Marshal. Intercepted aircraft will first get a wing wag and an invitation to turn away from the restricted zone. If that doesn't work, flares and lasers will be fired and if the aircraft keeps going the fighters and helicopters, with help from ground-based missile batteries, will do their thing.

The Civil Aviation Authority has done its best to get the word out about the restricted zones. Every pilot in the U.K. was sent a letter describing the restricted zones, which include the London no-fly area for GA traffic and an area covering much of southeast England in which special procedures (mandatory flight plans and active control) are in effect. Most of the restrictions are in effect until Aug. 15 although the sailing venue at Weymouth in Dorset will be under restrictions until Sept. 8. Restrictions will also be in place for the Paralympics, which follow the Olympics, but they will be less stringent.