July 4th military flyover, fireworks delay flights at Reagan Airport

President Donald Trump's July 4th celebration includes a military flyover, which will impact Ronald Reagan National Airport operations.
Image: US-POLITICS-HOLIDAY-INDEPENDENCE
U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, fly past Lincoln Memorial during the "Salute to America" Fourth of July event on July 4, 2019.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

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By Phil Helsel and Allan Smith

Military flyovers in the nation’s capital for Fourth of July celebrations prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to suspend operations at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport for around 90 minutes Thursday night.

Operations were to be suspended at the Washington airport from 6:15 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., and the fireworks were expected to impact the airport from 9 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., the FAA said.

A Delta spokesperson said two arrivals and one departure may be delayed by events surrounding President Donald Trump's Independence Day celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.

United Airlines said seven flights may be delayed due to the July 4 events in Washington, and it issued a travel waiver for those traveling into or out of Ronald Reagan National Airport.

American Airlines said it runs a reduced schedule worldwide every Fourth of July, based on customer demand, and it would continue to coordinate with the FAA and changes to its schedule could occur based on airspace closures.

"Hopefully, at worst it's a delay," Joseph Bishop-Henchman, whose Fourth of July flight home to Washington from California is affected, told NBC Washington. "Maybe they'll divert us to Dulles or something, which is not enjoyable."

But he expressed frustration at what he called a last-minute change. “On one hand, this is the price we pay for living in the nation's capital, but on the other hand, why is this all being done at the last minute?” Bishop-Henchman said.

While air traffic has been stopped at Reagan airport for past flyovers, it has not been stopped for fireworks — but this year, the fireworks have been moved to West Potomac Park which is closer to the flight path, NBC Washington reported.

The FAA said that Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and Dulles International Airport would not be affected.

Thunderstorms also were occurring in the Washington Thursday, the National Weather Service said. A downpour soaked people who arrived early for the president's event.

The weather service tweeted Thursday evening that most of the activity had shifted south of Washington, but some lightning strikes continued in the area.