Restricted Area — What Restricted Area?

By Renée Sward, General Aviation Inspector, Calgary Transport Canada Centre

Every pilot learns about restricted areas when getting their licence. What they may not necessarily know is that restricted areas aren't marked out with big hash marks on the ground. Without using a current aeronautical chart, and accurately knowing where you are, you can't really tell if you are flying in a restricted area. Just because you can hop in your aircraft, punch a few buttons, and fly directly to your destination, does not mean that it's a good idea to do it. Good route planning is essential for safe cross-country flying.

Not only is flying through a restricted area without authorization a violation of the regulations, it can be really hazardous. For example, the Suffield restricted area near Medicine Hat, AB is used for heavy artillery practice. How heavy? Try to imagine an artillery shell weighing about 35 lb and traveling at near 1 000 kts. Its trajectory takes it over 18 000 ft high and it lands more than 10 km (6 mi.) away. The range personnel take every precaution to make sure the area is clear of all traffic before firing. Unauthorized traffic that is seen by range personnel causes interruptions and delays. The result if the firing range personnel do not see your aircraft could be far more serious. Please take the time to review a chart, plan a smart route, and file a flight plan when you fly cross-country.