Town of Palm Beach News

Avoid Local Airports When President Trump Visits Winter White House

According to a recent report made by Palm Beach County’s airports director Bruce Pelly, when President Donald Trump comes back to his Mar-a-Lago estate in the Town of Palm Beach for a vacation, general aviation problems at surrounding airports are imminent. The Lantana airport is going to be shut down, and aviation at several other airports in the area from Martin County to Fort Lauderdale, including Palm Beach International, will be hampered severely.

The presentation for a county commission workshop last week also states that these restrictions may well force some flying schools out of business, as well as some private flight operations.

Airports Director Bruce Pelly’s report says that firms have provided dire warnings for President Trump’s return to his “Winter White House”, as he calls his Palm Beach estate and club. Bruce Pelly claims the estimates were provided by the agencies and businesses that might be affected by this, so they are not his. Also, he stated that the report and the situation is bound to change over time, but if the President were to visit next week, everything in the report would stand.

Avoid Local Airports When President Trump Visits Winter White House

But what exactly is in the report? Of course, there are going to be certain measures and precautions taken by the FAA and Secret Service. Here’s what will be in place and what it all means:

A 1 nautical mile – approximately 1.15 statute miles – this creates a “no fly” zone around Mar-a-Lago, which means that all commercial flights would have to angle north or south instead of leaving or arriving on a straight line from PBIA.

A ring of 10 nautical miles – 11.5 statute miles – this will bar all private planes from landing at either Lantana or PBIA if they did not come from a “gateway airport” where screening by the Transportation Safety Administration is possible. This does allow commercial flights, approved law enforcement and medical and U.S. Coast Guard flights, as well as all air traffic related to Trump.

A ring of 30 nautical miles – 34.5 statute miles – this allows only planes that travel to or from fields outside of the 10 mile ring (stretching west almost to Belle Glade, south to Pompano Beach and Witham Field in Stuart).

Planes cannot leave once they land at Lantana. All flight training, parachuting, practice approaches, seaplanes, gliders and hang-gliders, ultralights, balloons, even crop-dusters, are banned. That’s not all: banner-towing and sightseeing, model rockets and aircraft, maintenance test flights, utility and pipeline surveys and drones are also banned.

According to Pelly, the estimate of Palm Beach Aircraft Services which is based on a projected number of Trump visits shows $2 million a year lost at Lantana. However, Pelly did not say how Palm Beach Aircraft Services reached the figure and their officials were unavailable for comment.

Representatives of two other firms said they would be affected by this as well. Palm Beach Flight Training stated that the grounding of its Lantana operations could even force it out of business during Trump visits, and Windward Aviation stated the Lantana site was used by 90 percent of its customers, so it would be damaging to their business as well.

Tuesday’s county workshop agenda includes a letter to Trump from Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. It represents 350,000 airplane owners and private pilots nationwide, out of which 25,836 are in Florida. Their president and CEO Mark R. Baker broke down some of the numbers for the six South Florida airports that would be affected by the restrictions: the local economic output exceeds $1 billion, and creates over 8,000 jobs with a total payroll of $290 million. Lantana would be especially affected, considering it is one of the 10 busiest general aviation airports in the States. Baker said that although the pilots understand security measures need to be in place, they would still ask Trump to consider their impact.

The affected operations within the Mar-a-Lago flight restriction zone would include three fixed-base operations and 171 planes and helicopters that generated almost 60,000 pass-through or local flights during 2015 at PBIA; three flight schools, 267 based airplanes and helicopters and 12 air-related businesses at Lantana airport; and one fixed-base operation, two repair and sales firms and four flight schools at North County Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration stated that they are working to “minimize the impact on commercial and general aviation” alongside the U.S. Secret Service and the county.

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  2. March 29, 2018 at 10:55 pm — Reply

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