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Thu, Mar 20, 2003

AOPA: Immediate Removal Of Mickey Mouse Flight Restrictions Demanded

AOPA knows a Mickey Mouse rule when it sees one. As such, it is calling for the immediate removal of the flight restrictions over Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. That, after an FAA spokesman told CNN that there is "no specific, credible threat for Disney."

In an angry letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, AOPA President Phil Boyer said that the association had "reluctantly accepted" the code orange airspace restrictions over New York and Washington, D.C., because the tragic history of 9/11 suggests a continued threat to these cities.

"The government pledged to use concrete, threat-based intelligence to issue airspace and other transportation restrictions," Boyer said, "and yet they concede there is no concrete threat to Mickey and Minnie. So why is general aviation being singled out this time?"

Already politicians like Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley are using the Disney example to grandstand for their own airspace restrictions even though there have been no credible threats against those areas either. AOPA is working to fend off those unwarranted airspace grabs as well.

"Disney park officials have wanted to eliminate air traffic over the parks long before 9/11," Boyer said. "Did they employ lobbyists to convince FAA to finally 'ban' general aviation in the guise of security?

"AOPA and its almost 400,000 members cannot tolerate the indiscriminate 'Mickey Mouse' temporary flight restrictions placed around Disney World and Disneyland," Boyer told Blakey. "AOPA requests immediate removal of the restrictions."

Boyer also told Blakey that the New York and Washington air defense identification zone (ADIZ) restrictions had created operational problems for both pilots and government air traffic controllers. He reminded her that AOPA had submitted a series of proposals to alleviate many of these problems while maintaining the desired level of airspace security, yet FAA has not yet responded to those ideas.

The AOPA Letter To Blakey

Dear Administrator Blakey,

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has reluctantly accepted the airspace restrictions imposed by "Code Orange" in Washington, D.C. for several weeks, and most recently in the New York City area. Both venues were targeted in the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001. By this fact of history regarding these two major U.S. cities, it can be assumed to have a continued threat level. The ADIZ restrictions imposed have created operational problems for both our pilots and government air traffic controllers. To that end, last week AOPA put forth a series of proposals to alleviate many of these problems, yet would maintain the desired level of airspace security, which have gone unanswered.

The Association and its almost 400,000 members cannot, however, tolerate the indiscriminate, "Mickey Mouse," Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) placed around Disney World in Florida, and Disneyland in California. FAA's own chief spokesman told CNN "there has been no credible threat" to these facilities. So, we ask, why are they being singled out at this time? Is it due to the long-standing wish of Disney Park officials to eliminate air traffic over their facilities, dating back prior to 9/11/01? Is it because they have employed lobbyists to convince the Federal Aviation Administration to accomplish this, under the guise of security?

We have been encouraged that the government has pledged to use concrete, threat based intelligence to issue airspace and other transportation restrictions. This recent action over the theme parks in Florida and California, both heavily traveled pieces of airspace, contradicts that pledge.

AOPA requests the immediate removal of the restrictions.

Sincerely,
Phil Boyer

FMI: www.aopa.org

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