As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the government is informing small plane pilots that if they enter the no-fly zone during the summit, they might be shot down.
This is no joke. It will be enforced for May 19 to May 21.
The flight advisory was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. The advisory bans non-commercial aircraft from flying within 10 nautical miles of downtown Chicago at altitudes below 18,000 feet.
A nautical mile is about one minute of arc of latitude along any meridian. It amounts to 1,852 meters, or about 1.15078 standard miles.
In addition, the restrictions include an outer ring from 10 to 30 miles around downtown Chicago. Only planes arriving or departing at local airports will be allowed within that outer ring. Flight training, seaplanes, and other types of flights will be banned from the outer ring.
Any plane violating the flight restrictions will be intercepted.
“The United States Government may use deadly force against the airborne aircraft, if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security threat,” the advisory says. “Be advised that noncompliance with the published (notice to airmen) may result in the use of force.”
The advisory says lesser violations by airmen might result in civil penalties and the suspension of airmen certificates, as well as criminal charges.
As CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports, what those restrictions mean is, for three days, there will be a virtual no-fly zone extending from Lake County, Indiana, to Lake County, Illinois. The zone will also stretch well into DuPage County and over Lake Michigan.
“It’s an easy three days off of work,” said Chopper 2 HD pilot Jeff Fair. He’s familiar with all the airports that will be affected by the temporary flight restrictions.
He said the restrictions will essentially shut down general aviation – which refers to all flights that are not military, scheduled airline, or scheduled cargo flights.
“There will be no (general aviation) activity within those three days,” Fair said.
The only aircraft allowed to fly within the restricted area include regularly-scheduled commercial passenger and cargo carriers, police, and military planes supporting the Secret Service.
This no-fly zone is not new. The 30-mile no-fly zone is enforced for all presidential visits. Similar flight restrictions were also in place immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks because of terrorism-related concerns.
The airports affected by the flight restrictions range from big ones like O’Hare and Midway international airports, to other multi-runway fields – like Lewis Airport in Lockport – as well as small airstrips like the one in Bolingbrook.
At least a dozen airfields fall within the restricted area.
Meantime, when President Barack Obama comes to Chicago for the summit, he’ll stay at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers along the Chicago River.
CBS 2′s Mike Parker reports NATO host committee officials held a briefing for residents of the surrounding Streeterville neighborhood on Wednesday, warning them that traffic in the area will be an unholy mess during the summit.
There will be tight security around the Sheraton and other downtown hotels where NATO dignitaries are staying, and there will be dozens of motorcades taking the delegates to and from the summit at McCormick Place.
More than 200 Streeterville residents got that word at a meeting Wednesday night with NATO summit planners.
Arnette Henintze, a former Secret Service agent who has been consulting with the NATO host committee, said the bottom line is 60 heads of state will be staying at downtown area hotels.
That means street traffic will likely be a nightmare at times, especially when NATO delegates and their motorcades are on the roads.
The tight security measures will have a negative impact on people living, working, shopping, and visiting downtown.
“You will see three- and four-car motorcades. You’ll see 12- and 15-car motorcades. And if you see the president’s – and a couple of other heads of state’s – you’re going to see 20- and 30-car motorcades,” Heintze told local residents.
Michael Jackson, the district manager of CD One Price Cleaners, works at Michigan Avenue and Cermak Road, one block outside the security perimeter that will be established around McCormick Place during the summit.
He welcomes the extra security, but hopes his customers won’t feel pressured to stay away.
“I believe that Chicago has shown a reputation of handling things correctly, and I don’t think that’s going to be any different in this particular case either,” Jackson said, adding that he was “absolutely” confident in leaders and officials in keeping everyone safe.