President Barack Obama will be returning to Chicago for the first time since being sworn in as president and that means pilots flying in the area will have to be aware of new flight restrictions impacting one of the nation’s busiest chunks of airspace.
Obama is expected to go to Chicago several times each year, so pilots should become familiar with the airspace restrictions in order to keep themselves out of trouble.
His first visit is scheduled from 4:30 p.m. local on Friday, Feb. 13, through 10 a.m. local on Monday, Feb. 16. The FAA already has established a 30-nautical-mile-radius temporary flight restriction (TFR) for this weekend, encompassing much of the Chicago Class B airspace and shutting off part of the shoreline along the southwestern edge of Lake Michigan.
The TFR has an inner 10-nm-radius GA no-fly zone, which will affect general aviation flights arriving and departing Chicago Midway International Airport. Another 10-nm-radius TFR will be centered over Chicago O'Hare International for the president's arrival. AOPA anticipates that the FAA also will issue a TFR for his departure.
Gateway airports have been established to allow pilots to be screened and receive a waiver before flying into Midway when a TFR is in place. Pilots may stop at Rockford International (RFD), Greater Peoria Regional (PIA), and South Bend Regional to be screened by the Transportation Security Administration. All passengers and crewmembers on board must supply government-issued photo identification to the TSA officials. Pilots departing Midway during the TFR must also be screened. See the FAA’s Web site to apply using the special event waiver format. All applications must be submitted at least 48 to 72 hours prior to departure. See AOPA’s plain-language version of the notam for TSA screening details and hours of operation each airport.
If you complete the screening at the gateway airports to fly into Midway, please send us an e-mail and let us know how the process went. AOPA will share the information with the Obama administration.
Pilots should exercise extreme vigilance when flying in the area while the TFR is active. Download a copy of the intercept procedures to carry with you in the aircraft, and take the AOPA Air Safety Foundation’s “ Know Before You Go: Navigating Today’s Airspace” online course.