Flying GA on the Holidays | Aviation


It’s going to be a busy, crowded Memorial Day weekend, especially for those traveling by air, according to forecasts.

The FAA said it expects nearly 313,000 flights during the seven days it counts as the holiday period. This would surpass last year’s total for the same period but fall several thousand flights short of pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

On the other hand, the travel group AAA, which counts travelers instead of flights and over five days instead of seven, said it expects nearly 3.4 million people to venture out. By its calculations, air travel over the holiday weekend is expected to increase by 11 percent over last year and exceed 2019 levels by 5.4 percent, or about 170,000 travelers. AAA also said this Memorial Day weekend “could be the busiest at airports since 2005.”

But the AAA is talking about big airports and big transport category jets. What is the weekend outlook for personal general aviation flights? What can pilots expect as they arrive at their holiday destinations? FLYING checked with airport and FBO managers across the country to get a better sense of just how busy things are likely to get.

Our inquiry grew in part out of necessity. While planning to fly my family from Sussex, New Jersey (KFWN), to Bar Harbor, Maine (KBHB), this weekend I began to wonder how many others might have the same idea. Will there still be space to park on the ramp? Am I too late to reserve a rental car?

Luckily our timing was good. Cars are available and staffers at the FBO, Modern Aviation, said, “We can always make room.” Like most of the airports surveyed, KBHB is expecting a busy weekend with steady arrivals and departures, ranging from small piston aircraft like ours to turboprops, jets, and helicopters.

This is a fairly large county airport with intersecting runways, 5,200 and 3,363 feet long, and no control tower. It is the kind of place where a vintage taildragger and light jet have a good chance of approaching the traffic pattern… read more

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