Any suspicious plane entering that zone will be intercepted, like a Cessna, flown by the Civil Air Patrol. For the exercise, it played the role of an intruder. Traveling two to three times faster, the F-16 pulled up alongside, rocked its wings and peeled off.
"It's basically saying, 'Hey, look at me.' We'll rock our wings and then slowly turn away. That's a symbol for usually to follow," Thornton said.
If the civilian plane fails to respond, the next maneuver is called a head butt. The F-16 cuts right in front of the other plane.
"If you're a general aviation pilot flying around and you have an F-16 a thousand feet in front of you, you notice it," Thornton said.
Since 9/11 when these patrols began, there have been hundreds of intercepts over places like the nation's capital and events like the World Series. It always turns out to be an innocent, or stupid mistake. If it looks like an attack, only the Secretary of Defense, or if he can't be reached, the head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, can order a plane shot down.
"We would always execute the rules of engagement that NORAD put forth. And we're prepared to do that," Thornton said.
The best thing that could happen on Sunday is that you enjoy the game, but two F-16 pilots will be too busy flying to watch the game.