Pilots in the Washington, D.C., area can expect flight restrictions during President Bush's State of the Union address next Tuesday evening (January 28). Security officials have informed AOPA that a 30-nm temporary flight restriction around the nation's capital is being considered for approximately three to four hours during the President's speech to Congress and the nation. General aviation operations (Part 91 and 135) on instrument flight plans will likely be allowed to fly within the restricted airspace. Officials are still considering whether to permit VFR operations with discrete transponder codes and communication with ATC.
The TFR will be monitored closely for violations. In a meeting Thursday afternoon with AOPA President Phil Boyer and Andy Cebula, an AOPA senior vice president, a high-ranking security official said, "No pilot wants to make that mistake."
AOPA recently called on newly confirmed Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge to avoid last-minute restrictions and to ensure that pilots were given adequate advance warning of a TFR surrounding the event.
"While AOPA is not advocating for a TFR for the President's upcoming State of the Union address," AOPA President Phil Boyer said in a letter to Ridge, "we would surmise that with all of Congress, the administration, and many celebrities in the same place, airspace around the nation's capitol will be a concern."
The TFR surrounding last year's State of the Union address was issued just hours before the speech.
Pilots are reminded to check notams prior to any flight for the latest information.