CHARLOTTE — The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) will conduct low-altitude helicopter flights over downtown Charlotte and areas in and around Yorkmount Aug. 20 and 21 in preparation for the upcoming Republican National Convention.
The Convention is Aug. 24-27.
NNSA’s Nuclear Emergency Support Team (NEST) aircraft will measure naturally occurring background radiation as part of standard preparations to protect public health and safety on the day of the event.
Local residents may see a twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, which is equipped with sensitive, state-of-the-art passive radiation sensing technology. The helicopter will fly in a grid pattern over the areas at 150 feet (or higher) above the ground at a speed of approximately 80 mph.
Flyovers will occur only during daylight hours and are estimated to take approximately two hours to complete per area. The aircraft measurements will be purely scientific in nature, and no surveillance or other form of monitoring will occur during these flights.
The aerial surveys are a normal part of security and emergency preparedness activities. NNSA is making the public aware of the upcoming flights so citizens who see the low-flying aircraft are not alarmed.
The NEST survey aircraft is an element of the Aerial Measuring System (AMS), based at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. For more information and video footage of NNSA’s AMS aircraft.
NEST is part of NNSA’s Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation Program and provides the Nation’s nuclear or radiological incident or accident emergency response capability. NEST provides domestic and international reach through regional programs, offices, and personnel.