Everyone PLEASE learn from my TFR violation!

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Everyone PLEASE learn from my TFR violation!

Postby joemurffy » Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:25 am

Well, I’ve received the type of letter from my FSDO that everyone dreads receiving, so instead of being the one who usually tries to learn from others’ mistakes, I’d like to give back and be the unfortunate source of others’ learning.

The meat of the letter (attached) is contained in the following paragraph:

Due to the pilot deviation which occurred on November 6, 2010, at the Ames Municipal Airport in Ames, Iowa and pursuant to 14 CRF § 61.51(i)(1)(i) and § 91.417(c), you are requested to present to this office for inspection your pilot logbook, the aircraft logbooks or other records required to be maintained for inspection by the Administrator. Please forward these records to this office within 10 days of receipt of this letter.

What happened was that while flying a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) mission (transportation, not search and rescue) I landed at Ames airport (AMW) while there was an Iowa State football game in progress. The stadium meets the requirements of NOTAM 9/5151, and the airport is within 3nm of the stadium. Ames is an uncontrolled airport that is serviced by the Des Moines TRACON, located approximately 30nm to the south. The stadium is to the NW of the field, and I was arriving from the east. Earlier in the day I had flown IFR from SW Iowa to Dubuque (DBQ), but my return route was to be via two VFR legs, with the stop being at AMW.

Having received a full DUATS briefing prior to my flight up to DBQ just a couple of hours earlier, I did only an abbreviated self-briefing for my VFR flight from DBQ to AMW. During this briefing I verified what I knew to be a beautiful day across Iowa and checked for restrictions along my route of flight via the FAA’s TFR website. I also checked the NOTAMs at both DBQ and AMW. I did not call for a FSS briefing (1st MISTAKE), not that it would have prevented my entering the TFR in this case, since “stadium TFRs” are not routinely available to anyone other than the local TRACON. Also, not being a football fan, and not intimately familiar with the Ames area, I did not think to check atypical flight-planning sources for game-day information (2nd MISTAKE).

So, we launched out of Dubuque, VFR, with no intention of even getting flight-following (3rd MISTAKE). I did not have a formal VFR flight plan filed/opened, but remember that a VFR flight plan does not require contact with ATC. What I did have was a CAP mission/route and a formal release. This formal release includes a phone conversation with a flight release officer just prior to engine start. Not exactly the same as a VFR flight plan, but someone did know when to expect us at Ames - the same group that would likely be sent to look for us if we went missing.

Prior to arriving at AMW we monitored their ASOS and self-announced our position a couple times, beginning about 10nm east of the field. After landing and parking the FBO staff informed me of the current TFR and to give Des Moines a call. I instantly realized what had happened, and was very humble when talking with Jason from the Des Moines TRACON. He said that he had to pass my information onto the local FSDO, as well as letting me know that I could still fly out of the TFR by getting in touch with them while on the ground to receive a transponder code and departure instructions. I did double-check for flight restrictions for my last leg of the day, and made sure to carry flight-following. When checking for flight restrictions again online, and by then calling WX-BRIEF, I was told, in no uncertain terms, that there were no active TFRs along my route of flight, to include my departure airport (AMW). But, as a number of you already know, and I now know, I shouldn’t expect to be told of NOTAM 9/5151 airspace restrictions.

Also attached to this posting is the Aviation Safety Reporting System report that I submitted the next day, so I have that going for me. Also, I will maintain my humble and positive attitude throughout this entire process. As for complying with the FSDO’s direction, I’m going to have to call them and ask about sending in aircraft records that aren’t mine to send in. They/I will have to work with CAP to provide them if absolutely necessary.

I’ll try to keep this thread updated on how things progress. Being that I’m slowly working towards my CFI certificate, this will end up being a very good lesson learned for both me and my future students. I’m going to treat it as a learning opportunity, and I hope that is what it might prove to be to the people reading this, as well.
FSDO Letter.jpg
Letter from FSDO
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NASA ASRS - 1.jpg
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NASA ASRS - 2.jpg
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Joe Murphy - KPMV

N4706E / N115CC "Circus, Circus"
'51 Aeronca Champ 7CCM / '79 Bellanca Super Viking
'Once you fly fabric, you won't settle for metal.'

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Re: Everyone PLEASE learn from my TFR violation!

Postby ATC_Ben » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:24 am

A couple of (possibly silly) questions from down under...

1. What do the aircraft logbooks have to do with the matter?? It's not like you can say "the plane made me do it".
2. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot with this TFR 'arrangement'?? Here is an incident from someone that is out of town... what about from others further afield?? I'll use myself as an example, say I head over the pacific to visit for a couple of months and figure, hey, I'll do some homework and jump through all the TSA crap and FAA stuff and get an approval/licence/certificate/whatever to convert/certify my Aussie private licence and commit some aviation while I'm over there. See the sights and what have you. Get checked out in a 182 or something similar with an FBO and get let loose to discover the place. Now how on earth am I supposed to know 'where the frack' (as David would say) every football field is that qualifies for this NOTAM blowing snow arrangement (only if and when a game is on I understand?) if a.) the breifing office doesn't know it's active (speaking to someone [for free no less] would be a novelty for an Aussie) b.) DUATS doesn't know it's active (Similar to our own DIY 'NAIPS' system I'm guessing) and c.) the FAA's own TFR website doesn't know it's there compounded by d.) the things aren't even listed on the damn map... No bloody wonder people bust these things!!

Given all the reasonable steps taken, I'm a little scared of attempting to get a pass from the TSA/FAA to go flying over there if it's so damn easy to get tangled into a mess. And I'd imagine the reaction would have been a little less forgiving if there was a foreigner on the other end of the phone!

How is this not slowly killing GA over there?

If you come on down under and you do some paperwork for the regulator, they'll let you loose. Heck even without the CASA paperwork if you bring your licence you can always go up dual. Bring a fair bit of spare cash though, it ain't that cheap here! (user-pays everything... yay... not!). But we'll let you (traffic permitting) orbit Melbourne City (Including over the MCG (one of our biggest stadiums, seats 90,000+)), fly in Sydney Harbour near the bridge and around the coast near Sydney, etc, etc... in fact just about anything is available if you ask you may well get it pending traffic! In my former job as an aerial photography pilot we had some jobs that were in the middle of active military control areas, restricted areas and right next to Brisbane international airport (off the departure end of the runway no less). All that took was a phone call before departure to the relevant person and away we went! Seriously what would that take over there now? Top secret clearance and a probing by the TSA?

Out of interest out of the entire landmass of Australia, we only have one prohibited area... guess where it is??
- Prime Ministers residence.... no
- Governor Generals residence... no
- National Parliament... no
- An air force base... no
- Sydney Harbour... no


wait for it

The Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility located near Alice Springs, Northern Territory (pretty much in the middle of the country). And what's there??

We can't tell you, but in addition to the Australian Defence Force logo on the gate, who else do you think is there??

That's right... The US DoD! Nothing against protecting your folks down here... but more than the PM or GG... seriously??

And as a comparision to DC with it's ADIZ, SFRA, FRZ, and more prohibited and restricted areas than you can poke a stick at, our nations captital, Canberra (which doesn't even have a 24hr Approach control or tower service!) has but 4 restricted areas inside of 20DME. No ADIZ in sight and the restricted areas are for... no not the residences of the PM or GG, nor Parliment House... no they are:
- R424, Mills Cross Radio Telescope, SFC-3500
- R425, Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC), SFC-3600
- R426, CDSCC, SFC-FL120
- R455, Australian Army - Firing Range, SFC-2700.
The most dangerous thing we have there is the CDSCC radio telescope which is capable of transmitting at 400KW... not a typo, 400,000watts! If they go above 125KW additional temporary restricted areas are activated for the duration of the transmission as required. But only to 14nm radius depending on the elevation used, up to unlimited as you'd expect... unless you want to be fried!
Caelus latus sursum

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Re: Everyone PLEASE learn from my TFR violation!

Postby champguy » Mon Dec 06, 2010 1:08 pm

Come to Oregon and you can fly about anywhere you want, whenever, just don't fly over the U.of O. Stadium when the "Ducks" are having a home game.
How do you tell. Ask anyone.
If there is no one around, they are all at the game. Now you know.
Remember, not all who wander, are lost.

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Re: Everyone PLEASE learn from my TFR violation!

Postby turbo » Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:49 pm

i believe you can send copies of the records they need. if the originals are lost in the process of sending you will not be happy. find out exactly what is needed so you can have it included.

i went through the ringer with a fsdo 2 years ago about an 'incident' and it was very intense. i was as helpful as i could be to them but they know how to make you sweat. it worked on me. it lasted a month. at the end of the month he call and said he thought i had learned my lesson. there was a letter kept in my file for 2 years in case anything came up in that time i would be in 'trouble'. well a 2 year letter came last week that said my time was up. well it wasnt worded quit that way and what i was thinking is WHAT DID I DO THIS TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i reread the letter a few times, wow was i relieved. i hate getting FAA/FSDO letters.

hope this helps. have a drink or whatever soothes the nerves and good luck.
summers s. windsor, ct/ winters stuart, fl RV-6/ R-44 / Gyroplane "The government is a body of people notably ungoverned." Image

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Re: Everyone PLEASE learn from my TFR violation!

Postby sballmer » Wed Dec 08, 2010 12:15 am

I have to agree that NOTAM 9/5151 is something our alphabet soup organizations ought to fight more.
It looks like AOPA wowed to "battle" this back in 2002: http://www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/2002/02-3-135x.html.
But as far as I can tell, all that came out of this is that AOPA compiled a list stadium locations: http://www.aopa.org/whatsnew/9-5151.html.
Really? All I have to do is to go through a list of ~100 stadia and make sure none of them lies in my flight path. And if one does, I have to Google
what the local sports team is called, only to check that my flight is not during one of their home games? Thanks AOPA. But that is not what I thought "battle" means.

I know that I have to, "...before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight." (FAR 91.103)
But what fraction of the internet content do I really need to read to legally comply with that regulation?

In the past I found local pilot mailing lists, ATIS broadcasts and tower controllers to be a much better source of information.
But none of these would cover an uncontrolled airport inside such a landmine-TFR, as in joemurffy's case.

How about, just for one day, we turn this game around, and we pilots start posting our flights on our homepages. All the various sporting leagues will have to do is check our home pages and schedule their games around it.

What is that? This is not practical? Really...

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Re: Everyone PLEASE learn from my TFR violation!

Postby joemurffy » Sat Dec 11, 2010 12:07 am

Quick update:

- Received my receipt from NASA, so I'm covered in that area. I have been advised by an attorney with AOPA's Legal Plan (first year I've ever signed up for it, and so glad that I did) to not mention the NASA form unless this moves into certificate action, and that would be above the FSDO level.

- Spent about 45 minutes on the phone with the inspector who signed the letter in order to get clarification about the scope of records to send. For this person, scans are preferred, vice originals. And since this was a VFR flight, he only needs to see back far enough for me to prove that I'm current (i.e. flight review, take-offs and landings, etc.) Same with aircraft logbooks (i.e. only back to the last annual for engine and airframe, doesn't need to see propellor log, airworthiness certificate, AD listing, and any 337s). He also wants a factual statement, which won't be a problem. Overall, it was a good conversation, and I hope he hung up understanding that I take aviation very seriously. DARN! I forgot to let it slip that I listen to this podcast. On second thought, maybe that wasn't such a bad thing to forget. (I tease because I love. . .)

- The goal is a warning, and I expect to have at least a 2-year warning letter. This is preferable to a violation, and wouldn't prevent my filing another NASA form if something were to happen in the future. If I receive a violation, I'm prevented from using the NASA route for 5 years.

Thanks for the comments from everyone. ATC-Ben, having flown a little in Australia (as well as having had BBQ at Steve Visscher's house with him and Grant), I really appreciated your perspective. Oh, and I DO have a Top Secret clearance. That and 25 cents will get me a cup of coffee in this situation.
Joe Murphy - KPMV

N4706E / N115CC "Circus, Circus"
'51 Aeronca Champ 7CCM / '79 Bellanca Super Viking
'Once you fly fabric, you won't settle for metal.'

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Re: Everyone PLEASE learn from my TFR violation!

Postby svmelb » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:21 am

Major props to you, Joe, for being so up front about your incident. It allows all of us to learn from your experience, and despite all the complexities here, hopefully it will prevent others from finding themselves in the same situation.

Oh, and ATC_Ben, you'll need more than just a couple of months to navigate the TSA crap alone. Not like the good old days when I learned to fly over there. Take Joe's advice - drop in here some time soon for a beer or three!

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Re: Everyone PLEASE learn from my TFR violation!

Postby PilotBillFromTexas » Sun Dec 12, 2010 11:51 pm

The winds have been pretty strong this weekend but they were expected to die down this evening. So, I decided to just do some pattern work and get my night currency back again tonight. I checked DUATS and it was all of the usual stuff.

My plane is hangared at Grand Prairie, TX airport which is 3 miles from the Cowboys stadium in Arlington. I think that you see where this is going. GPM is towered and thank goodness that someone else asked them when the TFR would begin because the Cowboys are playing tonight. I quizzed the tower guys some more. Evidently the TFR line is just short of the tower itself on the east side of the field. So, if you stay in right hand traffic for 35 then you are just outside the line. I'm not that brave to test it.

The game is still on as I type this and I checked DUATS again and there is not a single mention of the TFR anywhere that I can find.

This is a problem.

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Re: Everyone PLEASE learn from my TFR violation!

Postby joemurffy » Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:23 pm

Happy Holidays, all! I suppose that I should share an update. Nothing has been decided yet, and I have been playing phone tag with the inspector, but I'm sure that we'll get a chance to talk again after the Christmas weekend.

I did send in my response to the FSDO on 13 December. I'm not going to put the entire thing on here, but I will share the body of the email and my statement. You'll be able to see from the included Tabs what other items I did provide. Please note, I am being pretty open about my name and tail number, but I think that anyone who really wanted to do some investigative work could find these out, anyway. If anyone could explain to me why doing this is totally stupid, please enlighten me.

Everybody fly safely over these holidays, and check weather (and NOTAMS!) often. Remember, it is better to be down here, wanting to be up there, than to be up there, wanting to be down here.

Joe Murphy


Please find the requested documentation in support of your investigation of my 6 November, 2010 airspace violation attached at Tabs A-G. All scans and documents were either obtained or created by me, and they are all correct and true to the best of my knowledge. I believe that the time-frames of the documents is consistent with what you explained you needed from me to show that the aircraft and I were both current and legal to fly. If you need anything else, please do not hesitate to contact me. My electronic logbook, for instance, contains much more complete information for each flight; but I think that what I've generated contains sufficient data for the process you outlined to me.

The one other piece of information that you asked of me was the tachometer time on N919CP at the time I landed at Ames. This was 1513.0hrs.

Very respectfully,
Joe Murphy
xxx-xxx-xxxx cell
yyy-yyy-yyyy work

Tab A - Murphy Ames TFR Statement
Tab B - Flight Review, 28Mar2010
Tab C - Logbook, 2010
Tab D - N919CP AF Log
Tab E - N919CPEng. Log
Tab F - N919CPProp. Log
Tab G - N919CP AD Listing

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Re: Everyone PLEASE learn from my TFR violation!

Postby joemurffy » Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:26 pm

My statement wouldn't attach. Hmmm?? Here it is just pasted.


SUBJECT: Pilot Statement of Events for 6 Nov 2010 TFR Violation at Ames, Iowa

On 6 November, 2010, I flew a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cessna 172 on an Air Force assigned training
mission. Although I do fly as a Mission Pilot in Emergency Service roles, on this day I was acting in my
capacity as the Iowa Wing Inspector General for CAP. There were three legs in support of a squadron
inspection in Dubuque - RDK to DBQ (IFR), DBQ to AMW (VFR), and AMW to DBQ (VFR).

In advance of my IFR flight from RDK to DBQ, I made myself aware of all available information
concerning that flight in accordance with FAR §91.103. As part of my process in support of a cross
country flight, I downloaded a DUATS flight brief, checked NOAAʼs Aviation Weather Center, the FAA TFR
website and NOTAMs for all airports of intended or potential use. There were no flight restrictions in
Iowa, and the weather conditions were to be VMC throughout the day. This flight was completed with
nothing significant to report.

Although I had originally intended to fly directly back from DBQ to RDK upon completing the squadron
inspection, my passenger requested to be dropped off in Ames for a funeral that evening. I confirmed that
this was acceptable with CAPʼs Iowa Wing, Director of Operations, and filed my flight in accordance with
applicable CAP procedures. In addition to CAP specific requirements for a mission, my preflight planning
again included checking NOAAʼs Aviation Weather Center, the FAA TFR website and NOTAMs for all
airports of intended or potential use. I do not remember if I obtained a DUATs brief for the flight from DBQ
to AMW, but I believe that I did. I did not file a VFR flight plan with FSS, but I did obtain a flight release
from a CAP flight release officer just prior to engine start, and closed the same upon arriving at Ames.
Since the weather was VMC along our route of flight, and since there were no listed flight restrictions, I
made the decision not to obtain flight following from ATC after leaving DBQʼs airspace. Other than having
a strong headwind, the actual flight was conducted with nothing significant to report. Several miles from
AMW I obtained local weather conditions from their ASOS, and continued to periodically check for
updates. Between 8-10nm from the airport, I announced our position on the CTAF, and continued to do
so every few miles until I entered a left-downwind for landing.

At about 1500 I landed at Ames Municipal Airport to drop off one passenger. Upon landing I was told to
contact the Des Moines terminal control center as a result of having landed into National Defense
Airspace, as defined by FDC NOTAM 9/5151. This airspace was in effect for a Division One football
game, and it encompassed AMW.

Prior to my final flight of the day, from AMW to RDK, I again checked the same items that I had done prior
to my first two flights, as well as call WX-BRIEF for an abbreviated briefing. My main purpose for the
abbreviated briefing was to ask for any flight restrictions at either my departure or destination airports, as
well as along my route of flight. Although I was assured from the flight briefer that there were not any, I
still contacted Des Moines Clearance Delivery while on the ground at AMW to obtain departure
instructions. I maintained flight following for the remainder of this VFR flight, with nothing significant to
Joseph C. Murphy
Private Pilot, 3138706
Joe Murphy - KPMV

N4706E / N115CC "Circus, Circus"
'51 Aeronca Champ 7CCM / '79 Bellanca Super Viking
'Once you fly fabric, you won't settle for metal.'

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