A convention security preview

Twin Cities general aircraft pilots are among the first to get a glimpse of tightened security during the coming Republican National Convention in St. Paul late this summer.

In addition to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport, there are seven small airports that ring the Twin Cities, mostly serving small airplanes.

At a meeting of pilots who fly out of South St. Paul’s Fleming Field this week (disclaimer: I rent a hangar at Fleming), an airport official said while specifics are still to be worked out, law enforcement will have a series of no-fly zones extending 3, 10, and 30 miles from the Xcel Center, “depending on who’s in town.”

He said pilots who are inbound for any of the airports will likely have to land in Eau Claire or St. Cloud to be checked out before being allowed to proceed.

Most general aircraft pilots in the region fly “visual flight rules,” meaning as long as they stay out of specific airspace, they’re free to fly when they want and where they want. It’s unclear whether those pilots will be allowed to fly during the week.

Additional military jets are expected to be stationed in the area during the convention to intercept stray aircraft in the Twin Cities.

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