Published December 29, 2003
"The Department of Homeland Security (search) has granted New York's request for air support to help enforce the temporary flight restrictions over New York City on New Year's Eve," agency spokeswoman Rachael Sunbarger said Monday.
It was not revealed how many helicopters would be made available from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or how they would be deployed.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration has imposed temporary flight bans over parts of the city during gatherings like the New Year's Eve celebration, the July 4 fireworks show and the Sept. 11 anniversary.
The city has remained on orange status, or high alert, since the national color-coded system was introduced in March 2002.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city is well-protected for New Year's Eve.
"I don't think that anybody should stay home Wednesday night because of security issues," the mayor said Monday. "There'll be hundreds of thousands, millions of people -- they're all going to have a great time, and they're going to be safe."
Meanwhile Monday, a man was charged with stealing an empty bus at the Port Authority terminal for a drunken joyride to the airport, triggering the city's second security alert in a matter of hours.
Authorities said the man was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport sitting in the bus with the engine idling and an open can of malt liquor.
The day before, a private plane flew into LaGuardia Airport airspace without permission before circling the Statue of Liberty. Police aviation units intercepted the plane and the pilot was arrested.
Richard Langone could face a range of penalties, from a letter of warning to revocation of his license, but no decision had been made, the FAA said Monday.
Langone told the New York Post he flew through the restricted airspace by mistake while heading home from Poughkeepsie. "I was scared to death," he said.