March 19, 2003
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is calling for the immediate removal of the flight restrictions over Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. That after an FAA spokesman told CNN that there is "no specific, credible threat for Disney."
In an angry letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, AOPA President Phil Boyer said that the association had "reluctantly accepted" the code orange airspace restrictions over New York and Washington, D.C., because the tragic history of 9/11 suggests a continued threat to these cities.
"The government pledged to use concrete, threat-based intelligence to issue airspace and other transportation restrictions," Boyer said, "and yet they concede there is no concrete threat to Mickey and Minnie. So why is general aviation being singled out this time?"
Already politicians like Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley are using the Disney example to grandstand for their own airspace restrictions, even though there have been no credible threats against those areas either. AOPA is working to fend off those unwarranted airspace grabs as well.
"Disney park officials have wanted to eliminate air traffic over the parks long before 9/11, "Boyer said. "Did they employ lobbyists to convince the FAA to finally 'ban' general aviation in the guise of security?
"AOPA and its almost 400,000 members cannot tolerate the indiscriminate 'Mickey Mouse' temporary flight restrictions placed around Disney World and Disneyland," Boyer told Blakey. "AOPA requests immediate removal of the restrictions."
Boyer also told Blakey that the New York and Washington air defense identification zone (ADIZ) restrictions had created operational problems for both pilots and government air traffic controllers. He reminded her that AOPA had submitted a series of proposals to alleviate many of these problems while maintaining the desired level of airspace security, yet the FAA has not yet responded to those ideas.
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