Security Theater intersection with Coronapanic Theater: illegal to fly over an empty stadium

The Boston Red Sox are playing in Fenway Park again, but fans aren’t allowed into the stadium. After the jihad of 9/11, the major league sports teams were able to realize their dream of blocking banner-towing airplanes from flying over stadiums. The banner-towers were competing with the teams for in-stadium advertising dollars. The dream of eliminating this competition had been out of reach for decades due to a legal/FAA doctrine that airspace belongs to the public and therefore the teams couldn’t own the airspace above their stadiums.

After 9/11, the teams got Congress to lean on the FAA to put in a “temporary flight restriction” (the temporary restriction will soon turn 20 years of age!) forbidding all aircraft from overflying within 3 nautical miles and 3,000′ (of course, a helicopter 3 miles away and at a normal helicopter cruising altitude would not really be an “overflight” since it wouldn’t be visible from the stadium). This is in the name of “security”, though it is unclear what the practical effect could be on security since the typical terrorist is already violating a variety of regulations and laws by carrying out a terrorist act.

Given that the stadiums are 99 percent empty, has the rule been relaxed? No! So we’re not allowed to do our helicopter tours over Boston (we don’t need to fly over Fenway Park, but it is quite close to the center of the city, so a Fenway TFR makes the tour essentially impossible). Families heading to Cape Cod in little planes won’t be able to take the conventional shortcut through Boston and over Logan Airport.

This was sold as a way to keep a determined jihadi from wiping out 30,000+ people with a Cessna 172 or similar (though, as noted above, it was unclear how it ever could have worked to achieve that end). But now it is being applied to ensuring security for a handful of baseball players who are all alone in the stadium.


  • “Baseball Is Playing for Its Life, and Ours” (NYT, August 2): protected from attack by family Cessnas and four-seat Robinsons, the young healthy baseball players are nonetheless besieged by a virus whose victims average 82 years of age with underlying health conditions. “Baseball was entering the war against the pandemic, and the world was positioned to benefit from the information that would be gathered. The league, armed to the teeth with power and privilege, access to testing, cash flow, precision data collection, and high-powered, lower-risk athletes playing outdoors, was supposed to prevail. … baseball and other sports will help get us there by aggressively gathering information about the risks we are all facing. In the end, this will be prove to be more valuable than anything normalcy can provide. We are playing to survive.” (i.e., we will learn more from Major League Baseball than from all of the MD/PhDs working for the Swedish government!)

4 thoughts on “Security Theater intersection with Coronapanic Theater: illegal to fly over an empty stadium

  1. Temporary Suspension of Temporary Flight Restrictions maybe?

    Theater? But aren’t the F15s going to take you down when you bust it? I mean, they are going to scramble, intercept, decide, and shoot you down in the time it takes the Cessna to fly the 1 1/2 miles from the edge of the TFR to impact in the stadium!

  2. You are a very very Un-American person! Sportsball is the official religion of the state, and the single largest driver of economic growth and prosperity in the city, nay, the entire country. Manufacturing, service sector, those are all entirely tertiary to the flow of advertising dollars, which makes all of America function. Anything which blasphemes or interferes with the sacred flow of advertising dollars must be suppressed, with force of arms if needed.
    It would be sad if the military shot down your helicopter for infringing on the rights of our advertisers, but would be a small price to pay for the economic security and patriotic fervor that was preserved.

    • And one Iron Law that we’ve learned can almost never be violated is that once restrictions are in place and the bureaucratic apparatus has been created to enforce them, they never go away. They just get re-purposed, rationalized and sent back for more appropriation.

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