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Flight School Bills White House, DNC for Revenue Lost to TFR

October 22, 2009 — Temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) due to the movement of the President of the United States or other high-level officials have become a common disruption to general aviation since 9/11. TFRs essentially halt many general aviation activities, like flight training, but GA businesses affected by the shutdowns haven’t often attempted to collect their lost revenue. When Oakland Flyers, a flight school based at Oakland International Airport, had to cease operations for 17 hours during last week’s visit to the Bay Area by President Obama to attend a fundraiser, owner Jim Gray decided to invoice the White House and the Democratic National Committee, (DNC) which hosted the event, in attempt to collect lost revenue.

“We invoiced lost revenue for the aircraft rental and for the flight instructors which are paid independently,” Gray said. “The flight instructors lost money on this deal as well. They get paid by the students directly. We put together an invoice for both items.”

The invoice totaled $2,565 for 10 canceled flights, which had been scheduled from late afternoon on October 15 until 10 a.m. the next day. Even though the airport’s location is clear across San Francisco Bay from the president’s physical location in downtown San Francisco, it was still inside the 10-mile no-fly ring, meaning all training flights were grounded during the TFR. Gray feels it’s not fair for his business to be shut down for an extended period of time due to a partisan function, as opposed to official government business, a reason he would more readily accept. He also takes issue with the fact that airline and cargo operations were allowed to continue operations because they operate under instrument flight rules.

Reaction in the GA community has been very supportive according to the numerous e-mails Gray has received from across the country. “There are flight schools that have also been affected by these kinds of things,” Gray said. “Pilots are thinking that these TFRs are punitive to general aviation for really no valid reason. By doing this (sending the invoice), maybe it will raise some attention for everybody to put in their two cents and we’ll see what happens.”

Gray says the DNC did contact the flight school to inquire about the dollar amount of the invoice, but he has not personally spoken to anyone. The DNC did not return calls to EAA.org regarding this story.

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