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CONVENTION 2000 / THE DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

Air Watch

August 13, 2000

If you think security is tight on the street, look up. Starting Monday when the convention begins, the Secret Service will impose a no-fly zone over Staples Center and enforce it with Black Hawk helicopters. Only law enforcement aircraft will be allowed within 1.7 miles of the convention hall, the so-called "sterile area." Surrounding it will be a 4-mile-wide "media zone" in which only two helicopters and one single-engine airplane will be allowed at any one time.

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Just who flies there and when is top secret. Media pilots will receive their secret ID codes over secure telephone connections. Cell phones, subject to eavesdropping, are forbidden. Aircraft radio communications will be encrypted. Schedules must be kept to the minute with no exceptions. No other aircraft will be permitted. The Federal Aviation Administration has warned pilots in Southern California that violators will be forced to land and could be arrested.

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Compiled by RICHARD O'REILLY / Los Angeles Times

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