Wednesday, January 02, 2013

TFR Jan 2-6: All Sites Closed except Dillingham

Update 1/2/2013: TFR reinstated, January 2-6.
Update 12/26: end date changed to December 26.
Update 12/21: start date changed to December 22.

Flying on Oahu is restricted from 03:30 AM on January 2, 2013 to 11:59 PM on January 6, 2013, while the President is here. Paragliders will only be allowed to fly within a 5 nm radius of Dillingham airfield, between 9 AM and 5 PM, after confirming authorization from HNL ATC each day.

See the NOTAM describing the TFR on the FAA website for details. Updated NOTAMS are issued frequently regarding the TFR - please check the list for the most recent changes.

The consequence of any infraction will be immediate scrambling of fighter jets. The FAA document threatens federal civil and criminal penalties as well as the use of deadly force.

Although the entire island is under the flight restriction, we will be allowed to fly paragliders within 5 nautical miles of Dillingham Airfield between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM HST, along with the sailplanes and skydivers.

We will need to designate one pilot to call Honolulu Airport Air Traffic Control at 808-840-6201 before the first pilot flies on a given day. ATC may tell us that there is no flying authorized on a given day, and they won't explain why. It will probably be because of presidential movement. If they authorize the flying, they may ask for contact information. They may also ask us to call again when the last pilot lands for the day. Please call me if you have questions about this protocol or if you run into any problems with it.

See this mapping tool for a map of the Dillingham area where we will be allowed to fly between 9 and 5.

The Dillingham ridge is known to be nicely soarable in light north wind, but that is a pretty rare combination of wind strength and direction. There is also a flying site within the allowed perimeter on the west side at Makua, which generally works in light to moderate westerly flow, which is an even more rare direction. These are not our best sites for our typical conditions, but lately we've found that Dillingham actually works okay on many tradewind days (especially the lighter ones). Any kind of light winds or sea breezes will probably be our best chance for getting in the air over there.

Our newest favorite launch from the climbing wall trail is currently closed by the DLNR. Alternate launches include the Kealia launch favored by the speed flyers, and also the drive up launch from the west side. Keep in mind that last year the drive up option was closed because of the TFR, so it would be wise to call ahead to the Air Force guard shack and check before heading all the way over there. There is another launch we've used that is a hike up from a point about a mile down the 4WD road on the Dillingham side. It would require a mission to scout out the trail and launch spots which will be overgrown beyond recognition by now.

Also, the other islands are not affected by this TFR, so pilots on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai will still be flying during this period. Depending on how the weather turns out, there's a good chance many of us will be scheduling flying junkets to those islands at some point.

I'll post more details about this as I get more information. Thanks for your cooperation. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

(On the east coast until Jan 3)