I’ve been planning a trip from Sanford/Orlando FL (KSFB) to Boca Raton, FL (KBCT) since the beginning of January for a weekend of College Softball as well as my wife and daughter’s birthdays. My only fear leading up to this weekend, was if President Trump would be visiting Palm Beach, FL (KPBI) at the same time. Usually presidential trips are not announced prior to and will usually only give about a 2-3 day notice for obvious security reasons.
My worst fear popped up yesterday (3 days before my trip) when I received an Alert Notification from AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) letting me know that there will be a VIP TFR (Temporary Flight Restrictions) starting Friday afternoon and ending Saturday afternoon. At my first thought, “crap, now what?” I’ve never had to navigate this before and thought, Boca Raton falls well inside the veil and for some reason, I remember someone telling me that you could only fly into this type of TFR with an IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flight plan. I’m going to have to cancel my trip since I’m not presently current with my Instrument Rating. What a way to put a wrench in the family vacation plans.
I really don’t want to create a National Security breach or find myself on the local or national news being escorted by fighter jets and handcuffed and perp-walked just because I needed to get my family to the ball field.
Being one to not let things stop me just because there is a little hiccup, I then started looking at the time frames of the TFR and noticed, “OK, maybe I can fly in earlier on Friday before the 3:15 pm activation time and still make it work”. The plan started to look better as I started modifying my departure schedule.
Thinking that this can’t be that difficult, I decided to call 1-800-WX-BRIEF to get a better understanding of what this TFR means and what my options really are. The weather and flight plan briefer was very helpful and was able to answer all my question in detail. To my surprise he told me that I only needed to file either a VFR or IFR flight plan, but didn’t necessarily have to open it. Just have it on file. I would also have to have positive control by ATC (squawk and talk) prior to entering designated area and will be asked if I have a Flight Plan on file.
Just doing a little home work and talking to the right agency made all the difference in the world. I can now move forward with my family vacation plans to South Florida knowing how to navigate what I thought, was the impossible. Remember, if you have any questions or don’t understand what you can and can’t do, just call someone. It can mean the difference between a great trip and a night in jail.
I’ll be sure to update this post with any additional information once I return.