Presidential Air Space

This news item relates that two small planes were intercepted when they crossed into President Bush’s 10 mile restricted airspace as he attended a fundraising event near Seattle.

Does the President now have his own personal no-fly zone that follows him everywhere? Is this measure new?

Do any other officials get thier own no-fly zone? Can they join the “10 mile wide” club?


I think it has always been the case that Airforce 1 has been the subject of special flight restrictions on other aircraft. Advisories and NOTAMS (Notices To Airmen) about temporary restricted areas around accident sites, military exercises, Presidential flights etc. are quite ordinary.

Sure, I’ve heard about flight restrictions around the White House and Air Force 1, but this was the President attending a private fundraiser in Seattle, and there was still a no-fly apparently following the Prez around town. This seem quite different.

Yes, the president and other high-ranking officials have their own no fly zones called ‘TFRs’ for ‘temporary flight restrictions’. These TFRs have caused lots of problems for general aviation as they often pop up with little notice, with poorly worded descriptions of the restriction as well as inconsistent dissemination of the notices. That’s one reason why we hear about these pilots accidentally flying through prohibited airspace.

From the AOPA website

… and …

It doesn’t matter whether the President is going to a public event, a private event or on vacation. It doesn’t matter whether he’s on the big Air Force 1, the smaller executive-type jet he uses on some trips or Marine One (the helicopter). There have always been restrictions on flight space and airport use by other aircraft.

I’m willing to bet those restrictions have been tightened since 9/11, but the idea is not new.

They have. The AOPA’s page on flight restrictions has been constantly updated since Sept. 11. The restrictions (called “temporary,” but more or less permanent now) tell aircraft to avoid airspace near anywhere the President goes, or may want to go; also including nuclear power plants, dams, refineries, industrial complexes, military facilities, stadiums, Disneyworld, inanimate objects, animate objects, the surface of the Earth, and the sky.