The long, intense negotiations led by the FAA with security officials has resulted in a plan for getting local pilots back in the air at Hyde Field, Potomac Airpark, and College Park Airport. Those three Maryland airports, which are inside a 15-mile temporary flight restriction area around Washington, D.C., have been closed since the attacks on September 11th. Beginning tomorrow, the Secret Service will begin the background check process by fingerprinting pilots (by appointment only) at the College Park Annex. Only pilots and operators based at the three airports prior to September 11th are eligible for this special security process. In addition to submitting prints, pilots will also be required to show three forms of identification, an official photo ID, pilot license, and current medical certificate.
"This is an important first step toward restoring operations at these airports," according to Andy Cebula, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. "While far from ideal, it is important to get based pilots flying again to demonstrate that operations out of these airports do not pose a security risk to the nation's capital."
Fingerprinting is the first of three steps that must be taken before security officials will allow the FAA to approve based aircraft operations to resume. Once the Secret Service has processed the prints and paperwork, which will take at least a week, the FAA will set up times to individually brief operators regarding flight procedures and issue personal identification numbers (PINs) for use when filing flight plans. Finally, the FAA will issue a special federal aviation regulation (SFAR) to permit operations to resume.
Based pilots should make an appointment by calling the College Park (CGF) operations desk at 301/864-5844, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.