Vacationing President’s TFR Rankles Vineyard Pilots

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The last time a sitting president vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard was during the pre-9/11 Clinton years, so when plans were laid for next week’s visit by the Obama family, the extent of the flight restrictions was a bit shocking to local pilots. “This is the most restrictive TFR we’ve seen,” said James Coyne, the president of the National Air Transportation Association, who has a home on the Vineyard. “I can’t think of any example of such severe restrictions. It’s far, far more draconian than under Clinton,” he told the Vineyard Gazette. The TFR extends for 30 nm for eight days, affecting seven local airports, which are in the midst of the busy tourist season. GA pilots who want to land at the main Vineyard airport (KMVY), which is within a 10-nm inner ring, must apply for a waiver 72 hours in advance and stop at one of several specified “gateway” airports for inspection first. “It’s really unfortunate … we’d hoped for some relief for the Katama tours,” said Coyne, referring to the popular grass field on the island, which offers biplane and glider rides. Since Katama is inside the 10-nm ring and there is no TSA screening facility there, the field will effectively be shut down.

Outside the 10-nm inner ring of the TFR, GA airplanes can take off and land if they follow certain procedures, but flight training, crop dusting, banner towing, and several other operations are restricted. AOPA spokesman Chris Dancy said the final TFR was not as bad as it might have been. “AOPA did make the case for a less restrictive TFR and in fact was successful in advocating for gateway access to the inner ring — the first time since the 30-nm presidential TFRs were instituted that GA has had access to the inner 10-nm ring,” Dancy told AVweb on Wednesday. Dancy added that now that the Notam is published, “it becomes incumbent upon pilots flying in that area to make sure they comply.” He noted that when a presidential TFR was implemented in Arizona earlier this week, there were eight violations. “So it will be imperative that pilots in New England check Notams immediately before departure, and that if their route of flight will take them anywhere near Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard, that they know and follow the procedures for operating within the TFR,” Dancy said.