AOPA has learned that security officials made a last-minute decision to prohibit VFR operations within 25 miles of Washington, D.C., during President Bush's State of the Union address tonight. At 4:55 p.m., the FAA released a notam establishing a temporary flight restriction (TFR) from the surface to FL180 from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. EST. (IFR operations will still be permitted in the 15- to 25-mile radius of Washington.)
"Such short notice on a restriction of this magnitude gives local pilots little, if any, opportunity to plan," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "AOPA is very concerned that some pilots won't get word in time to prevent an unintentional violation."
Centered on the Washington Vortac (DCA), this 25- nautical-mile restriction effectively closes nine airports to VFR traffic and is in addition to the existing TFR that prohibits all general aviation operations within 15 statute miles of the Washington Monument. At 11 p.m. the airspace will revert back to the existing 15-mile radius.
Airports that will be closed to VFR traffic tonight include Freeway (W00), Tipton (FME), Suburban (W18), Montgomery Co. (GAI), Davis (W50), Dulles International (IAD), Lee (ANP), Manassas (HEF), and Maryland (2W5).
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