SMO — Pilots wishing to use Santa Monica Airport have to wait until 9 a.m. Friday, with the Federal Aviation Administration putting temporary flight restrictions in place while President Barack Obama was in Los Angeles.
“Any pilot who violates the restrictions can face FAA sanctions as well as criminal charges,” Ian Gregor of the FAA said.
Only airlines, law enforcement aircraft and approved ambulance aircraft were able to fly within a 10-mile radius of SMO between 2:30 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. Friday. During that time, private pilots were not able to fly into or out of Los Angeles International Airport, Santa Monica Airport and Hawthorne Municipal Airport.
Obama was scheduled to arrive at LAX at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. He attended a fundraiser at Sony Studios in Culver City and then a private fundraiser at the Tavern restaurant in Brentwood.
While the restrictions were in effect, private pilots were able to fly into and out of airports within 10-30 miles from Santa Monica Airport. Private pilots were able to travel through that airspace provided air traffic controllers could handle the workload. However, all pilots flying in this area have to have filed flight plans, must have talked to air traffic controllers and were required to use transponders, which provide controllers with data on the type of aircraft, its altitude, airspeed and destination. The transponders had to broadcast a code that is unique to each aircraft.