Millions of dollars spent scrambling jets for GA pilots who bust TFRs

According to a story in USA Today, military aircraft are scrambling more than once a week, on average, to intercept general aviation planes that stray into restricted airspace. Military statistics show that the cost to taxpayers for protecting restricted airspace and the 75 annual diversions runs into the million of dollars, according to the report.


  1. John says

    TFRs do little or nothing to enhance security. Think about it- if terrorists had a small jet, they could skirt the boundary of the TFR, then suddenly turn inbound at 500 mph, and reach the target (a sports event or whatever) within a maximum of about 2.5 minutes. Do you really think they could be detected and intercepted in that short of a time? No way. The whole TFR thing is a “feel good” exercise, based on politics, not logic. It is a big inconvenience and loss of freedom; but when did the government ever care about that?

  2. flitetym says

    … oohh … I can just feel the rage out there. But I have a suggestion: push back from those keyboards and smart devices, head over to your elected official’s local office, and give these pencil-pushers some up-front, “in your face”, blowback. You see, I believe all this “social media” and email is a major problem that is “isolating the legislators from the legislated.” So, head on over, and give ’em hell.

  3. PB says

    The problem is the TFRs, not the pilots who break them. Unless the TFRs are painted in the sky (or on a GPS screen) then wandering pilots will wander into them.

    Obama comes to SoCal on a Friday afternoon for his fundraisings in the Hollywood sect, and the freeways are shut down for hours and economic chaos ensues. He is loathed for this selfish, arrogant display – all for fundraisings for the Democratic Party. It’s outrageous. A TFR is enacted for entire Los Angeles area, and pilots due cross the boundaries.

    Three more years of this – three more years. Ugh! The prospect of President Hillary is as bad.

  4. says

    I busted a Presidential TFR about 2 yrs ago. They launched a chopper from Reagan and put an F15 or whatever on the Runway at Dulles. I requested documentation per PBOR and got the radar track. They saw me coming for abut 5 minute directly penetrated the TFR about 2 miles, turned north for 3 miles, then west to return to airport. My radio was on local airport and second was on guard. They had 5 minutes to call me and they did not. But when landiing, “pilot, report to the terminal I have a number for you to call.” So I did everything I was supposted to do including filing a NASA report. IT TOOK THE FAA ABOUT 18 MONTHS TO FINALLY ADVISE ME…NO PENALTY. And as you point out…AT WHAT COST, THE CHOPPER AND FIGHTER JET. All because ATC was too busy to key the mike and do a guard frequency check.

  5. Jeff says

    This week there has been a TFR for a 3 mile radius of Kiawah Island just south of Charleston. Our VP is there visiting friends and playing golf, for 4 days! So the coast is effectively shut down, which means anyone going up the coast, has to divert out to sea or back inland taking them close to Charleston’s Class C and Air Force base and over JZI a very busy GA/Executive airport.
    Does Homeland security think someone in a 172 or a Mooney could really find the VP on the island or dive bomb him on the golf course? Really now.
    This is a prime example of the type of TFR that is ridiculous, not needed and just a real pain for no real benefit in security.
    I can’t wait until UAV’s start filling the skies!

  6. Chuck Miller says

    Of course those pop up tfr’s are truly worth every cent the cost the tax payers. Just imagine what might happen if someone with ill intent wanted to harm one of the folks being “protected” by the tfr! They would attempt to fly their aircraft into their location but at the last minute they would see that red protective dome and be rendered harmless, wouldn’t they? Or perhaps when they were doing their flight planning, contacting flight service and filing their flight plan, the would be informed of the tfr and cancel their plans. I’m sure. I for one sleep better knowing our government is keeping us safe, or at least those deemed important enough to matter. The entire issue of tfrs is laughable. The same logic used in other areas would call for signs in the front of banks stating “No Robberies Allowed”. Sometimes it seems our leader in DC forget that the is supposed to be the land of the free and home of the brave. We have let the bad guys win this one. They have forced all of us to give up a bit of our freedom.

  7. Hugh says

    I love it when someone or some entity publishes one of these proclamations, without perspective. It’s usually political or issue driven in some way, intent on causing a public uproar against somebody or something. Every military aircraft, F-15 to Blackhawk, is budgeted “X” number of operating hours wet (with fuel) each year. If they weren’t chasing a Cessna 172; they’d be simulating chasing a C-172 or simply drilling holes in the sky in a circular pattern. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t cost anything, the money is already obligated (spent). If you think there’d be money left over, you’ve never been in a military organization at the end of the fiscal year. The money will be spent!!

  8. Nick Jones says

    Perhaps the bigger question is why is there so much restricted airspace? How many of the intercepts were credible threats to national security? How many GA airplanes ran into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon? Zip, Zero, Nada, None. So why is GA deemed such a threat and why is there so much restricted airspace that excludes GA aircraft?

    • LancasterPA says

      Really? Ok, 2 blocks from my Airport S37, George Bush gave a speech in the garage of a local electrician company. The Presidents fly into Lancaster Airport (PA) and that closes everything down. Take any small two seater and put 150 lbs of C4 in it and most of us can put it right into the garage door. A personal guided missile. This is why we afford the P and VP these protections. Yes, most people knew well enough in advance to launch a plan like this. On the other hand, had someone done it, we would not be in two wars for 12 years and have 3,500 murdered Americans and I think 50,000 maimed. Just saying.

      • Sarah A says

        And so do these TFR’s really prevent such an attack from taking place ??? I seriously doubt that whatever aircraft are getting scrambled to intercept a GA TFR buster with such an intent would actually be able to stop them before the deed is done. Is an F-15 really going to get cleared to engage a GA aircraft with missiles or guns before the situation has progressed too far ??? The TFR is a Feel-Good Knee-Jerk reaction to the events of 9-11-2001. and they should be eliminated along with the so called “Patriot Act” one of the biggest farces ever in the name of making us secure.

  9. brett hawkins says

    Years ago a fellow PPL who was some kind of Navy aviation tech told me that the explosive bolts for the canopy on an F15 got blown by accident during maintenance. Estimated cost to replace said (gold coated) canopy? Over a million bucks.

    I must assume that the pilots going supersonic while running such intercepts are (a) having mucho fun and (b) getting valuable training. The idea that a 172 or Cherokee putting through the sky at 110 kts constitutes a legitimate threat to the security of the free world is a joke. Let’s cut Homeland Security’s budget by 25% and use the billions in savings to pay for a little more gas to practice those intercepts. Or, limit Michelle to one European shopping spree using Airforce One per year.

    • Hugh says

      F-15’s, when I worked on them, didn’t have gold tint; F-16’s did. Also, it’s USAF not Navy. The cost is a bit of an exaggeration.

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