<span>Courtesy of a chartered Delta Airline 767, the New Orleans Saints standard traveling party was whisked from the Crescent City to Miami this morning. It marked the next step in the team's preparation for Super Bowl XLIV, which will be played on Sunday evening.
The Saints' charter was sent out of a private aviation area at Louis Armstrong International Airport after the airport's fleet of fire trucks and the emergency fire and rescue workers formed a tribute to the team by shooting high-pressured water cannons arching over the wide-bodies Boeing aircraft.
The Saints departed Louis Armstrong International Airport in Kenner about the same time that the New Orleans morning rush hour was tapering off. Following an uneventful flight, the charter then landed at Miami International Airport just before noon eastern time.
All of the Saints players, except the players that were named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad, accompanied the Saints on their charter flight this morning. QB Drew Brees, LB Jonathan Vilma, S Roman Harper, RT Jon Stinchcomb, C Jonathan Goodwin, G Jahri Evans and S Darren Sharper met the team at the team hotel after fulfilling commitments at last night's Pro Bowl, which also was played at the site of Super Bowl XLIV, Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
The Saints then settled in for the hour-and-forty five-minute flight over the Gulf of Mexico. After arrival the Saints were escorted to their team headquarters in Miami before heading back out for an afternoon practice at the Dolphins practice facility. A handful of Saints personnel had earlier traveled to Miami to begin the cadre of preparations for the team at the team's hotel, practice facility and to address handfuls of other logistical matters that directly and indirectly affect the standing operating procedure of the Saints.
Other than the earlier than usual departure time for the charter, the flight and the passengers onboard the flight were the same operating procedures that generally accompanies the team throughout the season when the team travels to away games.
Saints Head Coach Sean Payton said that the team would rely on recent past experiences in being away from the team's Metairie headquarters to help transition more easily. In 2008 the Saints spent two full weeks getting ready for upcoming games on the road, with the first instance occurring prior to week one when the team evacuated from New Orleans and headed to Indianapolis prior to and during Hurricane Gustav. The Saints returned to New Orleans late Friday afternoon went on to down the and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 24-20, at the Superdome. Six weeks later the Saints once again packed up and headed out for a full week of preparation on the road, with it being the longest road trip in team history, as the team traveled to London for the NFL's International Series, a game the Saints also won, 37-32, over the San Diego Chargers.