Short Final: POTUS TFR


In 2004, I was flying to Tampa Exec when George W. had a POTUS TFR centered at nearby Tampa International. The TFR had the usual no‑fly 10 NM inner ring. Depending on where you measure it from, the two airports are 10.1 NM apart. As near as I could tell beforehand, the don’t‑you‑dare no‑fly ring extended to just about the far end of the runway I was planning to land on, Runway 23. The clouds and vis were well above the ILS minimums. ATC’s final instruction: “Yeah, try real hard not to go missed.”

Landed fine and all was well, until my taxi was later searched by very serious‑looking guys. Turned out that George W. and I were staying at the same hotel that night…

Scott Humphries

Houston, TX

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  1. That reminds me of a story of my own. In the fall of 1999, just a month or two before George W. was elected to his first term, I was a student pilot preparing for my check ride and flying out of Austin Bergstrom (KAUS.) Then-President Clinton had flown in earlier to give a speech or something but this was before the time of the all-encompassing presidential TFRs, as I recall there was only a small TFR or maybe just a ground stop during the time that the President was actually arriving or leaving. Since the President’s motorcade had already left the airport, it was operating normally.

    Anyway, as I was rolling to take off on runway 17L, the tower called with a traffic warning. “Cessna 52Y, be advised your traffic is a Boeing 747, touch and go on the parallel.” I turned my head to the right just in time to see Air Force 1 — well, not officially since the President was not on board — touch down and almost immediately take off again on 17R.

    “Traffic in sight, pretty hard to miss!” I responded to the tower, as Air Force 1 headed around for another T&G.

    I figured that the pilots must have assumed they’d be coming to Texas a lot if Bush won, and were getting in some local practice! Anyway, that’s the first and last time I’ve ever seen a 747 doing a touch and go. I hate to think how much every circuit around the patch was costing us taxpayers!