Some Benefit From Washington Security

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We all know about the effect of the seemingly permanent security measures imposed on GA airports in the immediate area of Washington, D.C. But all that lost business had to go somewhere and several area airports -- just outside the ADIZ -- are booming. Take Frederick, Md., for instance. According to the Gazette newspaper, revenues have almost doubled since 9/11 and traffic is up 20 percent. Compare that to Washington Executive/Hyde Field, where revenues are less than 10 percent of pre-9/11 levels, said manager Stan Fetter. But rather than knuckle under, Fetter said the airport is actually expanding, building new hangars in the hopes of attracting pilots who don't mind dealing with the transponder, communication and security measures imposed on them. Meanwhile, federal authorities cracked the door a little on the operations of the little-known agency charged with keeping the skies over D.C. clear of unauthorized aircraft. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) held an open house to display the Citation and Blackhawk aircraft it uses to intercept -- and discourage -- pilots who stray (so far, all by accident) into the restricted airspace. The military used to do all of that work but ICE has been lightening the load for 16 months. ICE aircraft are unarmed but fighters at nearby Andrews Air Force Base are always on alert if needed. "We are the cop on the beat in the skies," said Charles Stallworth, director of air and marine operations for ICE.