12 Places Airplanes Aren’t Allowed to Fly Over
You probably know that planes can’t fly close to the White House—but did you know about Mount Vernon and Disney World?
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Many of these no-fly zones are actually fairly recent, at least in permanent form, which makes sense after national security surged in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But this one has been around for decades! This beautiful spot, comprising over a million acres in Minnesota, was designated a no-fly area way back in 1949. President Harry Truman signed an executive order, another way that a place can become a no-fly zone. Considering this, perhaps it’s more surprising that more natural spots, including national parks, don’t get the no-fly protection. But this is one of very few no-fly areas whose purposes are purely recreational. And as part of Minnesota’s Superior National Forest, which in turn is part of the U.S. National Forest System, it does still have a governmental association.
Bush Family Ranch
This “Western White House,” also known as Prairie Chapel Ranch, was acquired by George W. Bush in the late 1990s. He and his wife Laura finished construction on the house itself in 2001 and it has been a popular getaway for his family ever since. It’s just outside of Crawford, Texas, and has seen many celebrated visitors besides just the two former presidents boasting the Bush name, including many foreign dignitaries. A few years ago, the no-fly zone surrounding the Bush Family Ranch was breached; it turned out that the prohibited area, P-49, had been slightly expanded with a temporary flight restriction. The offending, unknowing pilot had to land at the nearby Waco Airport, wait 90 minutes for the Secret Service, and undergo an interview and plane inspection. But presidents have to follow rules too; learn about some things no U.S. president is allowed to do while in office.
These spots are not the end-all, be-all for where planes in the United States can’t fly—far from it. “In addition to these permanent sites, the FAA imposes temporary no-fly zones around major sporting events and a variety of military bases while exercises are being conducted,” Burnham told RD.com. And these temporary flight restrictions are actually pretty frequent, as you can see right on the FAA’s website; there may even be several in a single day.
A fairly new player complicating the business of no-fly zones? Drones, and their rising popularity. The FAA is struggling to monitor these usually unmanned objects and where they can and cannot fly. Traditional no-fly zones “are for commercial and private aircraft; unmanned drones face far more limits as to where they can fly,” Burnham explains. “In general, drones are prohibited from flying over a wider range of military facilities, federal prisons, nuclear test sites, airports, and specific national monuments—particularly those which contain critical infrastructure, like the Hoover Dam.” Finally, states, counties, and cities can also pass their own legislation restricting drone usage, and those restrictions can vary greatly depending on the area. Read on to find out some things your airplane pilot wishes you knew.