May 31, 2010
The President of the United States returned to our shared hometown of Chicago for the Memorial Day Weekend. As a result a series of Very Important Person Temporary Flight Restrictions (VIP TFR) were put into effect for the airspace around the Chicago area. Historically, a visit from the President and the resulting restrictions were enough reason to keep me on the ground. I had heard of too many horror stories of pilots having their licenses suspended or revoked for infringing on the restricted airspace.
My home airport, Chicago Executive (KPWK), was outside the ten-mile no fly zone that surrounded the President's Chicago home. However, it was located within the 30 mile radius of the Temporary Flight Restriction. After being taunted by a weather forecast calling for a long weekend filled with clear and sunny days on the forecast I decided this would be a great opportunity to learn how to live with the TFRs and enjoy a new flying learning experience.
I scheduled the Windy City Flyers G1000 enabled Cessna and a flight instructor for Saturday afternoon. We spent some time on the ground before the flight talking about the TFR and the requirements for flying into and out of an area under a Temporary Flight Restriction. We were required to file an outbound flightplan and an inbound flightplan. Once submitted, we needed to obtain an use a discrete squawk code while in the restricted area. We also needed to be in two-way radio communications with ATC while flying in the area. Faster aircraft need to adhere to a 180 knots or less airspeed, something we were not concerned with in our Cessna. Be sure to look at the AOPA TFR Map before every flight or ask your pre-flight briefer about NOTAMs and TFRs.
After obtaining our squawk code from ground control we took off from Chicago Executive Airport. The tower directed us over to Chicago Approach shortly after liftoff with whom we keep two-way communication with until we had cleared the TFR airspace. Once a safe distance from the restricted airspace we closed our flightplan. I was surprised that several planes were flying so close to the border of the TFR. A slight miscalculation by those pilots would likely result in a minimum of a 30 - 90 day suspension of their license.
I spent the next hour under the hood in simulated instrument conditions working on basic flight maneuvers including straight & level flight, straight climbs and descents, standard rate turns and a combination of climbs, descents and turns.
On the way back to Chicago we opened our return flightplan, obtained a new discrete squawk code and talked with ATC all the way back to Chicago Executive. I stayed under the hood until we were on a mile and a half final for runway 16 where I completed the flight with a nice smooth landing. The 0.8 hours of simulated instrument time was my first in just under six years. I enjoyed both learning how to operate within a TFR and also logging some instrument time. I am looking forward to continuing to train for my instrument training as time allows.
August 17, 2008
Ever wonder how a pilot knows to stay clear of an airshow? According to Federal Aviation Regulations 91.03 "Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight." Therefore it is the pilot's responsibility to determine whether there are any hazards along the intended route of flight.
A pilot can take advantage of many online services to fulfill this requirement or make a call to flight service briefer. Before each of my flights I contact Flight Service for a last minute check on the weather and also to double check for TFR (Temporary Flight Restrictions) or NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen). If I had been intending to fly along the lakefront I would have learned during this process that there was a Notice to Airmen restricting flight within five miles of the airshow center.
In the example of the Chicago Air & Water Show they communicate the location by using the show centers location in regards to the Chicago O'Hare VOR. For example the Airspace is defined as having a show center located at 13.6 nautical miles out from the Chicago O'Hare VOR on the 106° radial. The flight restriction is then for a radius of 5 nautical miles from that point from the surface to 16,000 feet.
You can view a sample of the Notice on the FAA website.
May 19, 2005
"Last week one pilot made headlines, the other 588,656 did not" is the headline of an advertisement the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) ran in Wednesday's USA Today and Roll Call, the primary newspaper on Capitol Hill. This ad of course refers to last weeks Washington D.C. airspace violation by two general aviation pilots in a Cessna 150.
The rest of the ad which can be viewed on the AOPA website goes on to talk about all the organization has done to ensure pilots safely navigate the complex airspace restrictions established aften September 11, 2001. The article talks about the temporary airspace flight restrictions (TFRs) e-mails that are sent out to AOPA to members within range of the TFRs. They sent almost 5 million of those messages last year alerting pilots of restricted airspace. Safety is very important to AOPA so much so that it connected with 327,222 pilots and flight instructors last year through its online and live seminars.
If you have not read the advertisement yet download the PDF now from the the AOPA site.
October 28, 2004
A pilot based out of my home airport had a surprise escort back to Blue Ash today by two United States Air Force fighter jets after he flew too close to a rally for President George W. Bush.
The local NBC affiliate's website, ChannelCincinnati.com, stated, "The Secret Service determined the pilot made an honest mistake and didn't pose a security risk, and he was freed to go." Although he was freed by the Secret Service I would expect it is likely he could suffer penalties or suspensions of his license for flying into a restricted area.
Here in a battleground state for presidential election pilots should be well aware of the need to check prior to every flight as to whether a Temporary Flight Restriction is in place due to Presidential candidates being in the area.
May 4, 2004
The Bush/Cheney '04 tour cruised through the midwest today and affected air traffic all along the way. The FAA released Temporary Flight Restrictions in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas today. There was a 30 nautical mile restricted area for venues and a 10nm no fly bubble along the bus route.
This is a greater restriction for a Presidential bus tour than in years past. According to an AOPA representative the difference between Presidential Campaign restrictions prior to September 11, 2001 and now is as follows: "What makes this different is that whereas the old TFRs were three miles in radius, this is expected to be ten, and it's expected to extend nine times higher. That's 100 times the airspace that used to be affected." You can read more about the Presidential TFR's on AOPA's website.
Additionally, you can view the actual TFR from the FAA here.