Airspace Restrictions Keep Most Planes Away
The image of a modern fighter jet scrambling to intercept a
vintage Jenny or Nieuport replica is almost funny... if only it
weren't true. Four pilots flying their antique aircraft to the EAA
Fly-In in Hagerstown, MD found themselves under escort by F-16
fighters Sunday, after busting a Temporary Flight Restriction over
the presidential retreat at Camp David.
Representatives with the FAA tell The Washington Post
approximately 12 planes crossed into the no-fly zone from about
0900 to 1200 EDT Sunday, after radio contact could not be
established with those planes... many of which don't have
electrical systems, let alone radios. The planes came within the
30-mile radius of a TFR over Camp David, and the National Fallen
Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg.
Four aircraft were intercepted by jets scrambled by the North
American Aerospace Defense Command.
At the Hagerstown Fly-In, participants were wondering where the
planes were. Their questions were soon answered... as witnesses
describe seeing a lone propeller-driven plane, with an F-16 flying
circles around it.
"The F-16 is an evil,
menacing scary sound, and at the same time -- amazing," said Tracey
Potter, owner of Hagerstown Aircraft Services. "I can't imagine
what the feeling would be when that fighter aircraft is screaming
around you. If he decided to squeeze a couple of rounds off, he'd
blow your airplane right out of the sky."
An announcement went out to the crowd describing what was
occurring... a scene that outraged some pilots.
"I think these TFRs [temporary flight restrictions] are poorly
coordinated, poorly publicized and not very effective," said Dennis
Boykin, chairman of the Leesburg Executive Airport Commission --
and who is very familiar with no-fly zones. "It's not that I'm
unpatriotic, not that I don't believe my commander-in-chief is
special. I just don't understand what they're doing with all these
bureaucratic regulations. They haven't convinced me there's a
threat from these little airplanes."
Boykin did not attend the Hagerstown event, the Post adds, due
to the security restrictions near the airport.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told reporters the pilots who
entered restricted airspace could have avoided the incidents, had
they had radios onboard, and checked the NOTAMS.
"Pilots are supposed to check the notices to airmen that we put
out that are in effect for the area," Brown said, adding the pilots
face disciplinary charges... including possible suspension of their
NOTAM 7/9215 was issued
Friday, superseding the original NOTAM 7/9090 due to a change in
It would seem the TFR had a definite negative impact on the
Hagerstown Fly-In. About 20 planes showed up; the event typically
sees well over 100, according to Potter.
"It really killed our event. . . . It's a real kick in the
head," said Potter, who spent six months organizing the fly-in.