April 30, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
Pilots planning to fly general aviation aircraft to Costa Rica through May 7 should check carefully for flight restrictions in effect in connection with a scheduled visit by President Barack Obama and other leaders.
Rick Gardner of Caribbean Sky Tours, AOPA’s authorized representative for the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, said that during the trip only the Limon, Costa Rica airport, on the Caribbean coast, would remain unrestricted by the president's arrival.
“Unfortunately, Limon does not have the infrastructure to handle any significant volume of traffic and has very limited parking ramp available. Therefore, Costa Rica has essentially shut its doors to General Aviation,” Gardner said in an advisory to clients.
AOPA Manager of Security Tom Zecha urged pilots to check carefully on the status of the “substantial” restrictions on Costa Rica’s general aviation operations. “In a place like Costa Rica, general aviation is vitally important in an environment of jungle and mountainous terrain that makes travel by ground transportation difficult and painstakingly slow,” he said.
Complicating planning for pilots as of April 30 was that not all notams about flight restrictions had been published, leaving Gardner’s staff to gather information about airport restrictions from agents and local authorities.
Obama’s visit to Mexico and Costa Rica May 2 to 4 “will be an important chance to discuss our collective efforts to promote economic growth and development in Central America and our ongoing collaboration on citizen security,” said a White House press statement issued about the trip in March. In Costa Rica, he was to meet with leaders from Central American countries and the Dominican Republic, the White House said.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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