The FAA has issued a notam significantly expanding the restricted airspace (TFR) around President Bush's Crawford (Texas) ranch. The TFR, which extends for a 30-nm radius around the ranch up to 18,000 feet, requires all pilots to file a flight plan, obtain a discrete transponder code, and remain in communication with air traffic control. The TFR also closes airspace within 10 nm of the ranch.
"In light of the relaxation of the security threat level to condition 'yellow,' today, AOPA questions the need for such a large restriction," said Melissa K. Bailey, AOPA vice president of air traffic. "We ask the FAA and security communities to take a serious look at the need for a restricted area this large."
The TFR impacts 14 public-use airports and an additional 22 private airports.
The notam, which is effective from 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 26, to 9:10 a.m. September 30, expands the existing P-49 prohibited area to a 10-nm radius. Between 10 and 30 nm of Crawford ranch, pilots must be on an active VFR or IFR flight plan with a discrete ATC-assigned transponder code and must be communicating with ATC. In addition, the only flights permitted within this area will be for the purposes of ingress and egress. Aircraft must proceed directly to and from the airports. Flight training, pattern practice, and practice instrument approaches are not authorized, creating an impact on flight schools and FBOs throughout the region.
AOPA has been told that flight service stations throughout the Southwest region have been given guidance on how to assist pilots who are unable to contact other ATC facilities on the ground, including information on who they may contact for squawk codes prior to departure.
Pilots are cautioned that it is imperative that this notam be followed to the letter, as a violation of this airspace may not only jeopardize their certificate, but may also expose them to the possibility of armed interception by military aircraft.
The public-use airports affected by this TFR include: