A Cessna 172 pilot was flying between two familiar airports near the boundary of a temporary flight restriction (TFR) in effect over a baseball stadium when things began to come apart.
The reason for the flight’s deterioration was turbulence—severe enough that the airplane rolled into a steep bank and lost a few hundred feet of altitude as the pilot struggled for control.
Airspace is a challenging subject, but once mastered, the procedural rules of the airspace classes are mostly straightforward. TFRs are an exception to that formulation. Some types of TFRs may pop up with little or no warning in odd places. Other TFRs that are more predictable—even those similarly classified—may have different dimensions, prohibitions, and operating rules from one scenario to the next.
These TFR traits make it extremely important to examine every detail of any TFR noted along your route during your preflight briefing. A security TFR ordered for VIP travel, for example, might include a 10-nautical-mile inner ring of airspace that is essentially a no-fly zone (grounding operations at airports inside), and an outer ring, reaching to 30 nautical miles, in which limited operations may be permitted, usually under strict procedural requirements.
TFRs ordered for the safety of crews conducting aerial attacks on wildfires can appear in remote areas; an unwitting incursion can stop a firefighting mission in its tracks until the intruder—and the collision risk—clears out.
Not all TFRs exclude all air traffic from the restricted airspace: In San Angelo, Texas, where large drones stage border-surveillance flights, TFRs occur regularly, and the notice to airmen for a TFR scheduled Feb. 12 and 13 forbade operations in affected airspace “unless authorized by ATC” with specified transponder and two-way radio procedures.
However, there is no guarantee that when the next TFR comes along, the requirements will be identical.
The prudent pilot must plan the flight carefully, and navigate it, not complacently, but proficiently.
Discuss TFRs with your fellow pilots at AOPAHangar.com.