Pilot angry over presidential 'no-fly' zone

October 15, 2009 6:42:50 PM PDT
Whenever a president visits, especially since 9/11, security in the area is tightened considerably. In fact, a "no fly zone" has been declared, covering a 10-mile radius of where the president is staying for the duration of his trip. But an Oakland pilot plans to bill the government for the inconvenience.

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Jim Gray owns Oakland Flyers, a plane rental service and flight school grounded as long as President Obama is in town for a Democratic fundraiser.

With the presidential visit to San Francisco, the FAA imposed a 10-mile "no fly zone" for general aviation aircraft. It started just before 5:00 p.m. on Thursday night and runs until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.

That means Gray's fleet of Cessnas and Beechcrafts must stay right where they are.

"I think if he were going to meet with the Japanese to increase trade to California, I think it does change it a little bit," said Gray.

Gray says about 10 of his flights will be grounded during the President's visit, so he's prepared an invoice detailing the revenue he's lost. And he's sending it to both the White House and the Democratic National Committee.

"We came up with an invoice of $2,565," said Gray.

That includes not only plane rentals, but also canceled lessons for flight instructors, like Jeff Reeder.

"If it was for something related to global affairs, I'd have no problem with it. But if it's just for fundraising, kind of do it on somebody else's dime," said Reeder.

With the bill, Gray sent along a personal letter to the president.

"In keeping with the spirit of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we feel that this loss of revenue should not go unmitigated. We appreciate your timely acknowledgement and payment," he said.

The White House and DNC did not respond to our requests for comment.

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