If you live in Boca Raton, you probably know when President Donald Trump is headed to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach or back to the White House in Washington, D.C. Restrictions over a 10- and 30-mile radius of airspace means flight paths change and private aircraft divert to Boca Raton Airport to get out of the way.
“This past weekend, we did see a significant increase in jet activity into Boca Raton, most likely from pilots and passengers who did not want to deal with potential delays at Palm Beach International Airport during the Temporary Flight Restrictions,” Boca airport executive director Clara Bennett said after the presidential trip Feb. 10 to 12.
Another trip was planned for Feb. 17 to 20 and posted for Boca airport users at http://bit.ly/2lkswyP.
“There’s a significant increase in activity compared with usual seasonal levels,” Bennett said. “As a result of the increased activity, we are seeing an increased number of calls from the community in reaction to the increased flights over their homes and the modified flight paths dictated by Air Traffic Control.
She predicted more of the same: “If this trend continues, there will be air traffic impacts in the surrounding neighborhoods during each presidential visit.”
“Flight schools are affected in that there is no flight training allowed during the Temporary Flight Restriction,” she said.
“They may come to do practice landings, and when the president’s in town we can’t do that here at home,” said Jeffrey Johnson, dean of the school of aeronautics at Lynn University. “We’ll go over to Pahokee or AirGlades
He’s not optimistic that will change during Trump’s four years of backs and forths.
“The FAA said they would revisit the restrictions, but I don’t see it changing much,” Johnson said about the Federal Aviation Administration. “If he comes for an extended amount of time, it will be more of an impact. We’ll have to fly outside the ring more often. It’s obviously for the safety of the president, so you do what you need to do.”
Boca Raton Pilots Association got a briefing on the POTUS TFR, what pilots call the temporary restrictions, at its Feb. 1 meeting.
“Flight paths may come in more from the west,” to avoid the restrictions, said president Len Knight. “It probably increases traffic in Boca because of the gateway procedures. There are no gateway [screening] procedures here so there’s no delay.”
Former Boca Raton Pilots Association president Jim Costa said he has seen as many as 33 aircraft parked tail to noise.
“I’m trying to brief pilots on procedures,” particularly when the Boca airport control tower is not in operation overnight [11 p.m. to 7 a.m.] and pilots have to rely on getting a code on a frequency that may put them temporarily on hold because they’re so busy,” Knight said. “A few guys who called got no response for 5 or 10 minutes.”
So what happened when John F. Kennedy was in office [January 1961 to November 1963] and his winter White House was the family’s oceanfront estate in Palm Beach?
“That was a different time before Sept. 11,” Knight said.