The Human Cost Of Presidential Travel
My first flight at Van Nuys airport was March 5th, 2004 when I interviewed with Van Nuys Flight Center. Van Nuys Airport has been my home base ever since. I have endured the pain and consequence of presidential travel on more than one occasion for more than one president. When a president travels to Los Angeles, there are usually several flight restrictions put in place covering over 700 square miles. As one could imagine, this impacts many airports by effectively shutting down flight training, recreational flying, sightseeing, banner towing and all of the support operations that generate income from these and similar operations. Van Nuys airport is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the country and is the 25th busiest airport in the world. It has no commercial traffic yet averages over 41 operations per hour and zero during a presidential TFR. Presidential TFRs begin hours before the President arrives and remains in effect the entire time of the visit through departure from the area. Los Angeles airspace was shut down twice in the last month for important US presidential work – no, just fund raising. There has to be a better way. We are in an incredibly tough economic environment. Van Nuys Flight Center is closed down, other flight schools are hanging on by a thread, and new pilot training is at an all time low. I know president Obama is not the first president to negatively impact my professional livelihood, nor will he be the last. I just wish there was a way to reduce the negative financial ramifications on so many people when the president needs to raise money for re-election.