Security officials' decision to make the presidential-movement TFRs (temporary flight restrictions) at the Wright Brothers National Memorial effective at 7 a.m. local time on Wednesday has effectively barred any general aviation pilots from flying in to attend the Centennial of Flight celebrations.
"If the original TFRs were ironic, these updated times are outrageous," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "They begin before sunrise and slam the door on the two closest airports to virtually all Part 91 pilots. Certainly the President deserves protection when he travels. But because his security personnel continue to insist on demanding oversized TFRs, the inheritors of the Wright Brothers' legacy—America's pilots—are being penalized."
The TFR over the Wright Brothers National Monument is 50 nm in diameter. It effectively shuts down Dare County Regional Airport (MQI), the GA airport of choice for this event. The TFR will be effective 0700-1200 local on December 17. The 0-10 nm ring is a no-fly zone. From 10-25 nm, as has become usual with presidential-movement TFRs, pilots must be on an active VFR or IFR flight plan, have a discrete ATC-assigned transponder code, and be in radio communication with ATC.
A second, 30-nm-diameter TFR centered on Elizabeth City Coast Guard Station/Regional Airport (ECG) has been issued for the President's arrival (0700-0930 local) and departure (1050-1200 local). It also shuts down nearby Currituck County Airport (9W7).
"If security officials had allowed the FAA to issue 3- or even 5-nm-radius presidential-movement TFRs like they used to, Dare County Airport would still be an option," said Boyer. "Instead, pilots who had hoped to fly in for the day to help celebrate now face an overland journey of more than 50 miles from the nearest available airports."
The closest airport outside the TFRs is Hyde County (7W6) near the town of Engelhard, which is under the Pamlico B Military Operations Area (MOA) and is surrounded by numerous other MOAs and restricted areas. Hyde County is a public-use airport but, according to AOPA's Airport Directory Online, has no FBO. It is approximately 60 miles by road from the Wright Brothers Memorial.
The next closest is Northeastern Regional Airport (EDE) in Edenton. The town of Edenton is the FBO and, according to AOPA's Airport Directory Online, has both self-serve 100LL avgas and jet pre-mix available 24 hours a day. EDE is more than 80 miles from the memorial.