November 11, 2009
AOPA is weighing in, trying to salvage a 40-year tradition - the Cleveland National Air Show at Burke Lakefront Airport. Both the TSA and the FAA say they're required by Public Law 108-7 to prohibit the air show this coming Friday. That's the law enacted by Congress that prohibits air operations within 3 nm and 3,000 feet of a Major League Baseball, National Football League, or NCAA Division I football game or a NASCAR race. The Cleveland Indians have a game at Jacobs Field, about two miles from the airport, at the same time the air show is scheduled.
"AOPA is using our extensive relationships with these agencies and with Congress to try to bring some common sense to this situation," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "It's hard to believe that terrorists could be masquerading as nationally known air-show performers or could be wearing the uniform of our military services."
Some of the performers scheduled include a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet, an Ohio Air National Guard C-130 Hercules, and the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team.
AOPA's interpretation of the law is that the Department of Homeland Security (TSA's parent agency) and the FAA do have the latitude to grant the Cleveland Air Show a waiver for Friday night's performance. Public Law 108-7, Section 352 permits waivers to the "blanket" sporting event TFR, "as authorized by air traffic control for operational or safety purposes."
Air show organizer Bob Rutherford made a personal appeal for help to Boyer on Sunday. But AOPA staff had already started to try to solve the problem last week after members alerted AOPA to news stories about the possible cancellation of the air show.
AOPA's Senior Vice President of Government and Technical Affairs Andy Cebula has talked with top officials at both agencies, as well as friends of aviation on Capitol Hill.
"We don't believe it was the intent of Congress to prohibit a well-established and well-regulated air show," said Cebula. "So we've asked key members of Congress to weigh in with TSA and FAA and push them to allow the air show to go on."
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