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Dumbbells and flares....Dumbbells and flares....

Dumbbells and flares....

There's a little more than a week until the Democratic National Convention in Boston, seven until the Republican Convention in New York, and 15 until the Presidential election. What does it all mean? More and more temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) across the country. Both conventions will be "protected" by 60-nm-diameter TFRs with internal GA no-fly zones. Boston's Logan airport will be closed to GA, and IFR traffic into nearby airports will need slot reservations.

Click for larger image

Then consider the campaign TFRs. Take a look at this TFR graphic: two large, 60-nm-wide circles connected by a 10-nm-wide corridor extending up to 17,999 feet. It looks something like a dumbbell, and it's a general aviation "no-fly" zone within the corridor. This is the kind of airspace protection the Secret Service feels the President needs for his campaign bus tours. Even if he stops in just one city, he gets a 60-nm-diameter TFR. And he'll be visiting a lot of cities between now and November. So will presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry.

(Security officials say he'll get a TFR too but likely not as large as the President's.) And the bad news for pilots? These tours (and TFRs) can pop up with less than 24 hours notice.

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Bust a TFR and you
may see a light
show like this one.

Meanwhile, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has asked us to tell you that in its efforts to "safely enforce TFRs, NORAD interceptors have developed procedures to communicate with aircraft that have unknown intentions." If a military fighter fires a flare in your vicinity, it means, "Pay attention! Contact ATC on the local frequency or 121.5. Follow the interceptors' visual ICAO signals." (The AOPA Air Safety Foundation has a handy reference card listing the ICAO intercept signals. And note that according to NORAD, "Non-compliance may result in the use of force."

"Pilots must remain alert to the possibility of a campaign TFR," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "These bus tour TFRs can blockade a huge section of a state, as happened last week in Pennsylvania. And the security forces are serious about enforcing sanctions against any pilot who inadvertently flies through one."

( AOPA's Real-Time Flight Planner can display the bus-tour TFRs.)

July 15, 2004

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