Mar. 4, 2004 - With the first day of spring barely two weeks away, and better flying weather either arriving or soon to arrive over much of the country, general aviation activity is going to pick up substantially, and those pilots need to make sure they're completely familiar with constantly shifting airspace restrictions.
"Whether you're flying along the Eastern seaboard and have to cope with the Baltimore-Washington Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), or near one of the dozen Department of Defense temporary flight restrictions, or around any of the scores of cities Presidential candidates will visit, it's the pilot's responsibility to know where not to fly," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "At the same time, it's the government's responsibility to distribute accurate information in a timely fashion, and that's something that AOPA will continue to press for."
AOPA and the Air Safety Foundation have a number of tools to help pilots stay out of trouble, including the Real-Time Flight Planner, an ADIZ tutorial, and ASF's " Know Before You Go" online airspace education course.
"Real-Time Flight Planner is probably the single most effective tool AOPA offers for staying out of restricted airspace," said Boyer. "It was designed to take advantage of flight restriction data that the FAA makes available online and graphically displays both active and upcoming TFRs almost the instant they're published."
For pilots who either operate from or will be transiting the Baltimore-Washington area, the ADIZ tutorial outlines the procedures you'll need to follow. And "Know Before You Go" offers an excellent refresher on special-use airspace, such as TFRs, and the rest of the National Airspace System.
The consequences for violating a security-related TFR can be severe. Pilots may find themselves intercepted by military or other law enforcement aircraft. If that happens, it can literally be a matter of life or death for a GA pilot to understand and respond to signals from the intercepting aircraft. The Air Safety Foundation has developed an intercept procedures card that is available online in printable form. AOPA urges pilots to learn it, print it, and carry it.
"Think about how your airborne activity looks to a nervous public on the ground," said Boyer. "Be aware of changing security measures that may affect your flying. And remember to check notams just before you take off."