AOPA collaborated with the U.S. Air Force to reduce disruption to civil aviation caused by the 2016 iteration of a temporary military operations area in northern Michigan. Military officials agreed to accommodate the 2016 Wings Over Northern Michigan airshow June 18 and 19, which will proceed despite the planned military activity in the TMOA during that same time thanks to a new provision. Airspace within 6 nautical miles of Gaylord Regional Airport, where the airshow will take place, will be removed from the TMOA during the event. That exclusion extends to 12,500 feet msl and leaves a buffer zone between the airshow’s airspace and the TMOA.
AOPA reached out to pilots and airports in the affected area to gather information and comments, an effort that included feedback provided by AOPA Airport Support Network volunteers who provided insight based on their knowledge of local operations. The association then had several discussions with military officials responsible for the design and implementation of the Grayling TMOA. Those discussions resulted in accommodations including the limitation of the size of the TMOA to the smallest possible airspace that is still useful for the military training exercises planned for various dates between April and August.
The Grayling TMOA will be active April 11 through 22; June 5 through 10, June 18 through 24; and August 1 through 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. It will not be charted, and pilots will be informed by notam when the aerial gunnery range is active.
IFR traffic unable to climb over the Grayling TMOA upper limit of 17,999 feet msl (the 5,000-foot-msl floor is at or below the minimum en route altitude for affected airways) will be rerouted. Notams will be issued at least four hours in advance. Nonparticipating VFR traffic will not be restricted from entering the TMOA, but will need to exercise caution and vigilance as military aircraft will conduct “aggressive three-dimensional maneuvering” that involves “abrupt, unpredictable changes in altitude, attitude, and direction of flight.”
VFR pilots are encouraged to contact flight service or ATC for the latest information on activity during the planned exercise periods.