HOUSTON, TX - Houstonians have been alerted about low-flying helicopters seen over portions of Houston today. As part of the security protocols being taken to ensure that Super Bowl 51 and associated events are safe and secure, the US Department of Energy will be conducting low-flying helicopter overflights around portions of Houston today.
Please do not be alarmed if you see a low-flying helicopter in your area, and reserve 911 calls for life-threatening emergencies only.
According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, the NNSA (NNSA) will conduct low-altitude helicopter flights around Houston to measure naturally occurring background radiation in support of Super Bowl LI.
Officials from NNSA announced that the radiation assessment will cover approximately 7.5 square miles. A twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, operated by the Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System from the Nellis AFB will be equipped with radiation sensing technology. The helicopter will fly in a grid pattern over the areas at 150 feet (or higher) above ground surface, at a speed of approximately 80 miles per hour. Flyovers will occur only during daylight hours and it is estimated to take about three hours to complete per area.
The measurement of naturally occurring radiation to establish baseline levels is a normal part of security and emergency preparedness. NNSA is making the public aware of the coming flights so that citizens who see the low-flying aircraft are not alarmed.