As the political silly season for the fall elections gets cranked up, expect TFRs to blossom like mushrooms. Today’s world, unfortunately, requires an additional step for even the most basic VFR flight. You’ve gotta get a security briefing either from FSS or the web even though there may not be a cloud within 500 miles and you’re just out for a local flight near the home drome.
The security situation could be much better executed in places but I’m beginning to see why dot-connecting is a bit challenging for more than just the government. Last week significantly more than a few VFR pilots blundered into the presidential TFR over Martha’s Vineyard as the first family was taking vacation. This was even after significant effort was made to lessen the inconvenience to the flying public to accommodate vacation high season. A couple of these pilots were reportedly repeat offenders. One person described a pilot who recently violated a TFR as “Clueless and harmless.” The first part of his comment is correct and it’s not something to be proud of. I don’t want to be operating in the same airspace with clueless aviators because if they are a bit foggy on TFR airspace, there are likely other significant gaps in their knowledge as well.
The second part is incorrect and does significant damage to GA to our relationship with the government, the political establishment and to the public’s image of GA . AOPA, on the advocacy side, is working hard to bring some sanity into this equation but don’t hold your breath. The AOPA Air Safety Foundation provides free and easy access education to all pilots to guide them through. Armed with some basic knowledge it’s quite possible to negotiate around TFR airspace without a huge amount of hassle. If that’s too much to ask, then you’d better fly IFR everywhere but that’s certainly no place to be clueless either.
Remember the infamous Cessna 150 from Smoketown, PA that “cluelessly” busted Class B and the DC ADIZ? Several non-harmless things happened as a result of that. It was a huge media mess, a significant relaxing of the ADIZ rules that were about to be put in place were indefinitely put on hold and the pilot’s certificate was revoked. Not suspended – revoked. I’m having a hard time finding winners in that scenario. GA pilots were the big loser on that deal – well beyond one clueless and not-so-harmless pilot.
Until the world becomes a friendlier place, which may be awhile, it’s incumbent upon us to play the game. It’s a part of the PIC thing. We all long for the simpler aeronautical life of the past but regardless of how balled up this may be, it’s the system we have – not the system we want (seems I’ve heard that somewhere before). The U.S. is absolutely the best place in the world to fly despite some of the hassles. To quote the spokesperson for GA Serves America, Harrison Ford, ” Let’s keep it that way.”