(Related to this question)

The FAA's ATC Orders section 2-1-4 lists a number of different flight types that should get priority handling when possible. The obvious candidates are all mentioned: emergency services, VIP flights, search and rescue etc. But these less obvious ones are listed too, what exactly are they?

  1. NIGHT WATCH aircraft
  2. Aircraft using code name FLYNET
  3. Aircraft using code name "Garden Plot"
  4. Special Air Mission / SCOOT flights
  5. OPEN SKIES Treaty flights
  • $\begingroup$ FLYNET, isn't that just a euphemism for Skynet? Also, if you get a call in from someone's flying Garden Plot, you'd better give it some priority! ;) $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Jan 25, 2017 at 21:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Night Watch may refer to the E-4B 747 platform used as a command/control center when the President/Vice President are not on board. FLYNET is for aircraft transporting a nuclear/chemical disaster team. I think Garden Plot is a defunct program to restore civil disturbances. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 25, 2017 at 21:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ note that for #4 Special Air Missions, flights will usually have call signs of SAM--- $\endgroup$
    – Prodnegel
    Jan 25, 2017 at 22:04
  • $\begingroup$ Night Watch is only applicable for the airport at Castle Black ;) $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Jan 26, 2017 at 20:44

1 Answer 1



Night Watch or Nightwatch is the program identifier for the USAF National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC), including at least certain Boeing E-4 flights.

NAOC (used in flight):

From JO 7110.65W:

The term “NAOC” will not be a part of the call sign but may be used when the aircraft is airborne to indicate a request for special handling.


From JO 7110.65W:

The code name “FLYNET” indicates that an aircraft is transporting a nuclear emergency team or a disaster control team to the location of a potential or actual nuclear accident or an accident involving chemical agents or hazardous materials. It is in the public interest that they reach their destination as rapidly as possible.


Classified. Related to operation Garden Plot. Presumably a callsign to be used by aircraft as part of that operation.


Term related to Special Air Mission flights in evacuation of government VIPs.

From JO 7110.65W:

The term “SCOOT” will not be part of the call sign but may be used when the aircraft is airborne to indicate a request for special handling.


Callsign for observation aircraft under the Treaty on Open Skies. The USAF aircraft used for this purpose is the OC-135.

From Wikipedia's Treaty on Open Skies:

Observation/Demonstration flights are conducted under rigid guidelines outlined in the Treaty of OPEN SKIES that govern sensor usage, maximum flight distances, altitudes and priorities.

  • $\begingroup$ It might be worth noting that an Open Skies aircraft will be a foreign, probably Russian, aircraft. The OC-135 would be used over Russia. USAF doesn't have much need to invoke open skies rights in US airspace. $\endgroup$
    – Hugh
    Feb 28, 2020 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Hugh I agree, that is worth noting. USAF Open Skies aircraft would most likely be operating over the foreign soil of other signatory nations, though these aircraft could conceivably depart from, transit, or arrive in FAA controlled airspace using the Open Skies callsign. Likely the majority of Open Skies callsign aircraft operating in FAA controlled airspace would be those aircraft operated by foriegn nations including the UK, Germany, Russia, etc. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Feb 29, 2020 at 15:20

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