TFRs are necessary to protect the President
Rehoboth airspace restrictions hurt DE/MD summer aviation enterprises
AOPA worked with Secret Service to allow safe coexistence
A bunch of General Aviation pilots are faced with an operational obstacle imposed, for good reasons, on your business and personal flights. The restriction comes from a federal organization known for being opaque. Assuming that your fellow pilots can even figure out who should be contacted, the policy arguments that will move this official are not known to the average, ordinary citizen. A proposal, which would alleviate the limitations, is not likely to be heard, much less accepted. The federal executive has a very long list of overdue, high visibility assignments; she/he is not likely to be moved.
That’s why GA pilots pay their annual AOPA dues. The Secret Service official, who would not answer your call, sees a call from Frederick, MD and grabs the phone. He/she listens intently because, based on previous meetings/conversations, the AOPA representatives are knowledgeable, articulate advocates who speak the language of protecting the President from aircraft. Likely, a proposed solution will recognize the Service’s requirements, will provide the association’s membership some relief and will be a solid, precise proposal—little work by the civil servant will be needed before the package can be forwarded to the boss for approval.
Here are two stories that prove this value of the GA pilots’ professional association’s capabilities!!!
The Delaware be aware special use airspace rules cut out fewer airports than ones from the former administration.
Though it hardly opens the floodgates for GA operations stifled by Presidential TFRs during the Trump tenure, the first Presidential VIP TFR of the Biden Administration, in place this past weekend over Wilmington, Del., did include limited provision for accessing airports within the inner 12-mile ring of the restricted airspace.
TSA screening to enter the airspace was available at two gateway airports. But those gateways—Washington Dulles (IAD) and Newark Liberty International (EWR)—are not exactly known for being GA-friendly.
Still, it’s a step forward that flights screened at the gateways can now land at New Castle Airport (ILG) in Wilmington, Del., and New Garden Airport (N57) in Toughkenamon, Penn. With a 3,693-foot runway (6-24), New Garden is not likely to attract operations that would be most likely to be departing from IAD or EWR, so more work needs to be done if it’s to find relief from future TFRs.
ILG is a different story—an active business-aviation hub with several large maintenance facilities, including Dassault Falcon Jet’s factory service center. Flights can even depart from ILG with TSA screening available on the field.
Though the TFR will still preclude most operations at New Garden and New Castle within the 12-mile ring, it will not be a complete shutdown. Also, there are five public-use airports near the edge of the 30-mile outer ring that are excluded from the TFR restrictions and remain open to GA operations.
Pointing out that the dates of last weekend’s TFR changed after the first issuance, AOPA warned pilots that such changes are “normal” to check NOTAMs before flight, and to read them carefully to be sure what activities are prohibited.
President Biden’s Delaware travel is no day at the beach for Ocean City’s banner-towing airplanes and skydivers
Jeff Barker, Baltimore Sun 1 hr ago
Joe Biden is hardly the most beloved of chief executives in Republican-friendly Worcester County. The Maryland county, which is home to Ocean City, hasn’t voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since 1964.
Biden didn’t help his cause, the locals say, by planning a visit this week to the nearby Rehoboth Beach area of Delaware — a trip necessitating flight restrictions that caused a scramble by the operators of Ocean City’s iconic banner-towing planes, sightseeing planes and skydiving companies to salvage business during their peak season.
“There’s a lot of trash-talking” about Biden, said Jeanice Dolan, owner of Skydive OC, which had booked about 150 “tandem” skydives — a jump made with an instructor in tow— during a week that may now coincide with Biden’s vacation plans about 30 miles away at the home he bought in 2017.
Harford County Airport in Churchville is one of many airports that has had to develop contingency plans because of temporary flight restrictions when President Biden is at his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
Dolan’s sky diving company was grounded during a two-day Biden trip to Rehoboth in early June, and she imagined having to call even more customers this time to cancel their 12,000-feet jumps overlooking the scenic Atlantic coast
After consulting her congressman, Republican Rep. Andy Harris, Dolan said she reached an accommodation with federal officials allowing jumps to continue— and saving $50,000 in potentially lost revenue — if the pilots stay within a 5-mile radius of the Ocean City airport, and a manifest is filed 12 hours in advance…
“We saw this a lot with [former] President Trump too in Florida,” said Christopher Cooper of the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, a Frederick-based membership organization that works with the FAA and Secret Service to help airports and aviation businesses cope with temporary restricted zones. “Florida is not a wide state, so a TFR can wipe out a large section of it.
Wilmington is close enough to Maryland that the Harford County Airport needed to obtain a “carveout” —a waiver of sorts — early this year enabling it to fly planes even when Biden is in his home state.
Biden arrived in Wilmington on Friday, and the Harford airport said it was advised that temporary flight restrictions were in effect for the weekend.
“We have about a 1.2- or 1.3-mile radius off the center of our airport — a fairly small circle where you have to take off and stay inside of that area,” airport manager Kevin Hess said.
Hess says airport revenues— for example, from plane rentals and fuel sales— decline somewhat during restricted periods, although he’s not sure by exactly how much. “When you talk to people, yes, they are less likely to fly. It’s another thing to worry about,” he said.
When restrictions are in place, Hess positions large signs near the runways and other locations. The signs say “TFR” in oversized, red lettering along with “CHECK NOTAMS,” which refers pilots to official guidance called Notices to Airmen.
Ocean City’s airport — home to all sorts of planes, from Piper Cubs to Gulfstream jets — also does “all kinds of outreach” to ensure that pilots know what’s off-limits, said airport manager Jaime Giandomenico.
The FAA won’t say how frequently pilots cross into unauthorized airspace during presidential trips. F-16 fighter jets are sometimes summoned to escort a wayward plane out of the zone (recent experience).. Pilots can temporarily or permanently lose their licenses for such infractions.
“If we see a big jet beside us — or a helicopter —we know we’re on the wrong side,” joked Bob Bunting, who said he is vigilant about making sure his Ocean City area sightseeing, advertising and crop-dusting planes don’t veer into restricted airspace.
Bunting’s company, Ocean Aerial Ads, pilots the planes that move languidly across the beach carrying “Happy Birthday” messages, wedding proposals and banners for beer companies, restaurants, nightspots and other clients.
“When you’re dealing with a banner plane flying 35 miles per hour down the beach, you’re not much of a threat,” Bunting said.
But he said his planes’ routes must be limited during Biden’s stay, and that all must be equipped with radios allowing the aircraft to be easily tracked. He must also file flight plans in advance.
“If the people make a [sightseeing] reservation the night before, I’ll say, ‘I’m going to go 5 miles down the coast of Assateague and north up the coast of Ocean City.’ It’s not that difficult, but we’re used to not having to do it,” Bunting said.
Harris — whose congressional district includes parts of Carroll, Harford and Baltimore counties, as well as the Eastern Shore — recently teamed with Democratic Rep. C.A.. Dutch Ruppersberger of Baltimore County on legislative language allocating $4 million to compensate businesses for economic losses from flight restrictions due to presidential travel. Harris has also worked with businesses such as Skydive OC that are trying to remain in the air during such trips.
“It is usually small operations who are impacted when their skydiving and banner planes are grounded, and the $4 million now included in the bill will go a long way in making them whole,” Ruppersberger said.
Among those interested in applying for such grants is Bunting, who said his company had no choice but to buy the special radios if it wanted to keep its planes flying when the president is nearby.
“We’ve spent $25,000 to $30,000 out of our own pocket,” he said.
Bunting said he appreciates that federal authorities generally seemed to be trying to accommodate his desire to keep his businesses going this week. The FAA did not respond to questions about specific flight arrangements made with companies such as his during the Rehoboth Beach trip.
“Is it a pain? Yes. Are they halfway working with us? Yes,” Bunting said. “We don’t know if it’s really doable until we put all this in action. It’s a lot going on.”
These Delaware ANG operations flying over the Rehoboth beaches.
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