Flying stuff 16 May 2007 11:43 am

APEC meeting to massively disrupt aviation in and around Sydney – even gliders to be grounded!!!

Sydneysiders are growing weary of hearing about the disruptions that will happen when APEC hits town at the end of August. It seems that the massive security precautions that will be in place for the event will touch every part of our lives.

According to today’s Daily Telegraph, mobile phone service will be blacked out in the immediate vicinity of George W Bush. That may not be a HUGE issue, because businesses in the city are being asked to close down for the duration, and a special public holiday has been gazetted!

UPDATE: it’s just been announced that three city railway stations will be closed for twelve days. Just why are we hosting this thing?

Proof positive that the security arrangements have gone crazy is the ban on aviation announced yesterday. In essence, most light aviation in the Sydney basin will be grounded for ten days at the time of the Summit. Full details can be downloaded here.

The ban covers a circle of radius roughly 80km, centred on Sydney Airport. To be exempted from the ban, light aircraft operators will have to pre-register themselves, lodge flight plans and gain special approval numbers. It’s highly unlikely that permission will be granted to fly into a special exclusion zone that runs (roughly) from Lucas Heights to the coast and north to the northern suburbs. At special times on the three days of the actual meetings, there will be no flying at all.

This special airspace plan effectively grounds the Southern Cross Gliding Club for ten days. The nature of glider operations (subject to wind and weather) makes the filing of flight plans virtually impossible. And the requirement for all aircraft to be fitted with transponders (devices that transmit an identifying signal to the control tower when polled) prior to granting exemption really is the last straw – none of our aircraft have transponders!

So, the terrorists won’t be able to use gliders to attack George W.

To minimise the impact on club revenue and to make sure that members have the opportunity to go flying during the APEC period, the club is investigating the running of a special camp. Locations under review include Goulburn, Bathurst and Warkworth (Hunter Valley).

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