December 1, 2008
AOPA Communications staff
Chicago residents are just beginning to come to grips with what it means to them to have the President of the United States living in their hometown. Local reporters are exploring the impact of presidential security arrangements.
One reporter, WMAQ-TV’s Phil Rogers, looked into what having a presidential vacation home in a major metropolitan area would mean to aviation. Rogers is himself a pilot and well versed in general aviation issues.
Security officials and the FAA currently impose a 2-nautical-mile-radius temporary flight restriction (TFR) from the surface up to 3,000 feet when President-elect Barack Obama travels. But with AOPA President Phil Boyer’s help, Rogers looked at what might happen if security officials follow the policy currently in place over President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.
It is important to note that President-elect Obama has not decided where to vacation while president, nor have the security agencies decided what measures will be needed.
Using graphics and cold hard numbers, Boyer and Rogers explained the effect a 10-nm GA no-fly zone and 30-mile “squawk and talk” zone would have on the Chicago area if Obama maintained his current home as his vacation spot throughout his presidency: 21 airports and more than 1,600 based aircraft.
“The Secret Service protective detail has only one job, and they do it extremely well,” said Boyer. “But hopefully Phil Rogers’s story shed some light for them, the people of Chicago, and perhaps even the Obama transition team, on what continuing the current policy might mean.”
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The FAA’s “lack of an executable plan, unresolved technical issues, and ineffective collaboration with industry,” are “programmatic challenges” to moving toward the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), Assistant Inspector General for Aviation Audits Matthew Hampton testified June 25.
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