Winter White House shuts down air traffic

If you fly small airplanes in Florida, there’s a pretty fair chance you own a paperweight, at least in the area where President Donald Trump has set up his winter White House from time to time.

The Federal Aviation Administration sets no-fly zones wherever the president is and most of the time, it’s not a big deal. They come and they go. And, besides, presidential vacation spots tend to be nowhere busy.

President Obama grounded airplanes on Martha’s Vineyard. There’s still a no-fly zone around Kennebunkport, Maine, but it’s not a big deal because it’s Kennebunkport.

South Florida is a whole different picture, however.


No operations are allowed at the Palm Beach County Airport when the president is at Mar-a-Lago except by going to another airport first and getting a special clearance to fly. This is roughly the same procedure used in the Twin Cities during the Republican National Convention in 2008.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association says it’s seeking a meeting with the FAA to reach a compromise, claiming six airports in the area “have a total economic output exceeding $1 billion, create over 8,000 jobs, and have a total payroll of $290 million.”

The group says if the president stays the entire President’s Day weekend, the airport would lose about $40,000.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    That’s not totally fair. The closure around Kennebunkport was related both Presidents Bush using a family cabin. I’m sure there was disruption in central Texas when G. W. Bush went to his ranch.

    The main difference is that President Trump’s “retreat” is a private club/resort with a high priced membership fee.

    • No, that really has nothing to do with it. The TFR is going to go up wherever the president is; he just happens to be in busy airspace.

      As I pointed out, Kennebunkport (it’s not a cabin, by the way) isn’t a big deal because it’s not busy airspace. Neither is MV.

      Crawford, Texas? Nowheresville.

      New York City is, which is why it was a big deal when the Hudson River VFR corridor was shut down because of Trump Tower.

      And Palm Beach is because… well… it is.

      Who the president is and how much membership is at the club is completely irrelevant.

      • Here’s the “prohibited” area that still exists around the Bush ranch. As you can see, there are no airports within it. I’m guessing that the TFR when he was in office didn’t close the Waco airport. But maybe.

        still…. Waco.

        • Jack Ungerleider

          My comment was more in response to the idea that somehow the President staying at property he owned is different with Trump. The main difference with regard to the Bush family retreat, GWB’s ranch (and yes I noticed that Waco was the closest “big” city), Martha’s Vineyard (Obama and Clinton), and if you want to go back to Reagan, his ranch in California, is they all did the country a favor and had their retreats in low population and air traffic zones. Trump doesn’t seem the type who likes to “get away from it all” and so we are left with this issue. It was bound to happen at some point. If it causes too much trouble the local gentry might ask the President to use official retreats like Camp David instead of coming to Mar-a-lago and blowing a hole in the area’s economy.

          • Anna

            I agree with you 100% and I am sure the residents of Palm Beach agree as well.

            Can the president be forced to use Camp David instead of Trump Tower or Mar-a-lago? I’m not sure but I am sure his childish ego would be so hurt if the people of Palm Beach and New York City rejected his visits, right?

            Trump doesn’t know how to “get away from it all” and would be such a Grumpy Gus if he were forced to do it, the American public would never hear the end of it.

            The people of Florida were instrumental in electing him so I guess they will have to live with the consequences.

          • RBHolb

            “Can the president be forced to use Camp David instead of Trump Tower or Mar-a-lago?”

            I don’t think he can be forced. He won’t use it, unless it’s renamed “Camp Trump.”

          • Anna

            So true. So true.

          • rallysocks

            He would double down and commute daily in that case.

  • Will

    So maybe adjust the rules here?

  • Al

    Could you explain the figure above a little more, for those of us not as in the know? Does the Palm Beach airport see large, commercial flights, smaller solo flights, both?