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January 16th, 2009
07:10 PM ET

Follow that presidential train! (Not)

Program Note: Tune in to see more about President-elect Barack Obama's train trip tonight on AC360° 10pm ET.

Mike Ahlers
CNN Producer

Pilots, do you want to see Barack Obama's train trip from the air?

Well, we hate to disappoint. But the Federal Aviation Administration is establishing "moving" flight restrictions that will prevent private pilots, news helicopters, balloonists and others from getting anywhere near the train, which will retrace Abraham Lincoln's 1861 trip from Philadelphia to Washington.

The FAA has established two concentric rings of restrictions, with the center being the location of the Obama train. The most severe restrictions are in the inner most ring which has a 10 nautical mile radius. This ring is limited almost exclusively to planes or helicopters providing security for the president-elect and his entourage.

The outer ring has a 30 nautical mile radius. Pilots may travel in this area provided they meet strict requirements, including filing a flight plan, communicating with air traffic controllers, and transmitting a discreet radio signal.

Commercial jetliners are largely off the hook. The airspace will remain open above 18,000 feet.

The FAA action, known as a "temporary flight restriction," has been employed before. Moving temporary flight restriction are sometimes used to help protect a traveling president.

FAA spokesman Paul Takemoto said flight restrictions start at 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday in Philadelphia, and move with the train. Pilots can consult http://www.faa.gov for additional details.

The FAA is imposing additional airspace restrictions in Washington on Sunday during pre-inaugural activities, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, the day of the inauguration.


Filed under: Barack Obama • Inauguration
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Carole S.

    I grew up in Philadelphia and am watching the journey of President-Elect Obama's train on television. It reminds me of long ago when I stood at a North Phila. station watching the funeral train of Robert Kennedy – another historic moment I will never forget.
    Carole S. Hershey,PA

    January 17, 2009 at 12:53 pm |