May 31, 2010
Flying Under a Presidential TFR
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.