Waivers, Air Shows, And Venues

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Aerobatic Pilot Aims For Loophole...

One of the air show circuit's rising stars is hoping the Transportation Security Administration can provide a loophole in its stadium overflight ban big enough for him to fly through. Michael Mancuso (solo performer and former member of the award-winning Northern Lights aerobatic team) was to become the first-ever official show pilot for the Indy car race circuit. But the orange alert and the war in Iraq have put the brakes on that deal. Apparently the TSA is (generally) OK with multiple performers flying at air shows ... but not one pilot flying air shows near race tracks. "It's too bad because we were so pumped up about this," said Mancuso. Since 9/11, anyone wanting to fly over a major sporting event or other activity at a stadium seating more than 30,000 people has needed a waiver from the flight restrictions that keep aircraft three nautical miles and 3,000 feet from the stadiums. Mancuso had his waivers in place for the Miami and Phoenix Indy races but they were cancelled when the nation's security posture increased to orange from yellow. He said he understands the need for increased security but the practical application of the waiver ban doesn't make much sense.

...NOTAM Inconsistencies Revealed

Mancuso's only hope may be the broad interpretation of a section of the NOTAM that allows pilots to apply for waivers "for operational purposes of an event, stadium or other venue." He said he's been told that as an official event pilot his act might be interpreted as an operational part of the Indy races. A TSA spokeswoman contacted by AVweb over the weekend said she couldn't reach officials able to respond until today. Although the FAA issued the NOTAM, the TSA is responsible for issuing waivers, according to FAA spokesman William Shumann. Mancuso's situation illustrates some apparent cracks in the logic behind the NOTAM. He noted that air shows sometimes attract far more people than sporting events and are not covered by the NOTAM. Mancuso also wondered about the fate of an air show in Georgia that's held at a racetrack and also noted that the NOTAM applies to stadiums with seating capacity of more than 30,000 -- even if there are far fewer fans actually in the stands for an event. "Common sense says this is absurd," he said. The waiver ban will keep him out of up to 10 Indy race events. "It's costing me a ton of money," he said.