The Federal Aviation Administration has imposed flight restrictions over Dick Cheney's new Maryland home, angering private pilots who say they can't fly overhead even when the vice president isn't around.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association spokesman Chris Dancy said Tuesday the FAA only imposes restrictions at Cheney's Jackson Hole, Wyo., home when he's there. He questioned the need to have the restrictions in place at all times over a home in Maryland, which has much more air traffic.
Cheney's new home is on the Chesapeake Bay in St. Michaels, Md., about 30 miles east of Washington. The restricted airspace has a radius of one nautical mile and was established Nov. 22.
The vice president's official residence is on the grounds of the Naval Observatory in Northwest Washington, part of the region covered by airspace restrictions that were put in place after the Sept. 11 attacks.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the St. Michaels' restriction is classified as temporary, though she acknowledged there is no date for it to be lifted.
Airspace restrictions are an inconvenience for private pilots. If they stray into restricted space, they could have their pilot's license taken away, be escorted away by fighter jets or, in a worst-case scenario, be shot down.
Flight restrictions over President Bush's house in Crawford, Texas, stay in place even when he isn't there.
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The government wants permanently to restrict a wide swath of airspace over the Washington area and make it a crime if a private pilot knowingly enters a zone that extends from Maryland to Virginia.
When pilots see the light from green-and-red laser beams, it means they've flown into restricted airspace.
The FAA has received more than 18,400 comments from individuals, corporations, airports and industry associations, largely in opposition (e.g., 99 out of 100 submissions).
Lawmakers have tried for years to close the corridor for reasons of safety and security.