Though it hardly opens the floodgates for GA operations stifled by Presidential TFRs during the Trump tenure, the first Presidential VIP TFR of the Biden Administration, in place this past weekend over Wilmington, Del., did include limited provision for accessing airports within the inner 12-mile ring of the restricted airspace.
TSA screening to enter the airspace was available at two gateway airports. But those gateways—Washington Dulles (IAD) and Newark Liberty International (EWR)—are not exactly known for being GA-friendly.
Still, it’s a step forward that flights screened at the gateways can now land at New Castle Airport (ILG) in Wilmington, Del., and New Garden Airport (N57) in Toughkenamon, Penn. With a 3,693-foot runway (6-24), New Garden is not likely to attract operations that would be most likely to be departing from IAD or EWR, so more work needs to be done if it’s to find relief from future TFRs.
ILG is a different story—an active business-aviation hub with several large maintenance facilities, including Dassault Falcon Jet’s factory service center. Flights can even depart from ILG with TSA screening available on the field.
Though the TFR will still preclude most operations at New Garden and New Castle within the 12-mile ring, it will not be a complete shutdown. Also, there are five public-use airports near the edge of the 30-mile outer ring that are excluded from the TFR restrictions and remain open to GA operations.
Pointing out that the dates of last weekend’s TFR changed after the first issuance, AOPA warned pilots that such changes are “normal” to check NOTAMs before flight, and to read them carefully to be sure what activities are prohibited.