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Sky 7 violated TFR?

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jimmnn

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TV news helicopter violates Presidential airspace, says FAA
F-16 from Buckley intercepts KMGH helicopter near Colorado Springs

by Scott Orr, News2

May 29, 2008

DENVER (KWGN) — A television news helicopter pilot may be in hot water after violating restricted airspace around President Bush as he visited the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs Wednesday, according to an FAA spokesperson.

An F-16 fighter jet was sent from Buckley Air Force Base to intercept the KMGH-TV helicopter, known as "Airtracker 7," after it ventured inside the 60-mile-wide Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) area, which is mandated by the federal government whenever the President travels.

According to Mike Fergus of the FAA's Rocky Mountain regional office, an air traffic controller asked the helicopter's pilot if he was aware of the TFR as he departed Centennial Airport, and the pilot answered that he was. As the Eurocopter AS350B2 approached the boundary of the TFR, the pilot was again warned that he was near the edge of the restricted area, said Fergus, and that if he entered it, an F-16 would be scrambled to intercept him. Again, he acknowledged, and then proceeded to enter the area.

Fergus said the F-16 from Buckley arrived and circled the helicopter "for several minutes" before Airtracker 7 turned and left the restricted area.

Pilots are expected to know about TFRs before they take off, but accidental violations, usually committed by private pilots in light aircraft, are fairly common.

KMGH News Director Byron Grandy said the station contracts its helicopter service from U.S. Helicopters, Inc., of North Carolina and that the pilot, Rich Westra, is not a station employee. Grandy said he has not spoken with Westra or the FAA yet about the incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration investigates TFR violations, and Fergus said that the agency would, at a minimum, interview the helicopter pilot about the violation. The first time a pilot violates a Presidential TFR, he can have his pilot's license suspended, and offenses after that can result in revocation.

Fergus said he was unsure what action, if any, the Homeland Security Department would take.
 

captaincraig44

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Oops. I guess being aware of the TFR and actually knowing where you are in relation to it are two completely separate things. Granted the area covered by Presidential movement TFRs are really rather absurd, but still . . .
Anybody hear a different voice on 123.025 yesterday or this morning coming from Airtracker 7?
 

csschupp

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Even in that helo you have about 25 minutes till he's in the center of that 60 mile radius. Imagine a 737.
 

csschupp

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Of course theoretically the F-16 could make it in under 5 minutes, circle, and wait like a shark....
 

comm_manager

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Purely anecdotal thought here but it seems that lately the media guys have gotten a touch more aggressive and snarky. Hopefully this will wake them up a little bit.
 
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