5 Places Airplanes Can't Fly Over

On February 22, 1935, it became illegal for planes to fly over the White House. While the sight of an airplane flying overhead is normal for most people, there are areas in the United States where planes can't fly. These no-fly zones cover places that range from historical to top secret. Here are 5 places that airplanes can't fly over...


The White House You might think the White House barred planes from flying overhead for security reasons. But in this case, the no-fly zone was created on this day in 1935 because President Franklin D. Roosevelt couldn't sleep with the drone of engines and propellers overhead. The ban is still in place, although it hasn't kept all aircraft out. There have been a few incidents in which an aircraft breached the no-fly zone, including one in which a small plane crashed two stories below President Clinton’s bedroom. In 1974, an Army private stole a helicopter from Fort Meade and hovered above the White House for six minutes and landed on the South Lawn.

Area 51 If you were hoping to fly an aircraft over the infamous Area 51 to see what you could spot, you'd be in for a nasty surprise. The area around it is restricted to most, but not all, air travel. The only commuter flights allowed to fly to Area 51 must originate from a specific terminal at a specific airport (Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport). The planes themselves must use the call sign “Janet” to get clearance to enter the airspace. While these restrictions may add to the forbidden appeal of sneaking around Area 51, it's a legitimate military zone that handles top-secret information. It's not an area you'd want to mess around in. 


Disneyland and Disney World Both Disney properties in the United States have no-fly zones that extend in a three-mile radius around each, up to 3,000 feet above the park. They were included in a massive air-safety-focused act of Congress, Operation Liberty Shield, enacted in 2003. While the zones prevent plane noise from interrupting people's days at the park, critics say the zones do nothing to prevent terrorism and only prevent banner-towing planes from flying over the park. Some conservative groups have treated the zones as free-speech issues because they can't fly protest banners during some of the parks' events. 

A Number of Presidential Properties What do Mount Vernon, Kennebunkport, and Camp David have in common? They're all presidential-related properties that have no-fly zones. Mount Vernon was George Washington's home, which has a no-fly zone up to 1,500 feet above mean sea level; Kennebunkport is home to the Bush family compound at Walker's Point, which has a no-fly zone up to 1,000 feet above mean sea level; and Camp David is the Maryland retreat where many presidents have gone to relax and to hold historical meetings and conferences. It has a no-fly zone of up to 5,000 feet above mean sea level.

Pantex Nuclear Assembly Plant This spot is located about 17 miles northeast of Amarillo, Texas, and it is exactly what it sounds like—it’s a site for the production of nuclear weapons. Pantex also dismantles excess nukes and keeps tabs on existing ones. It’s one of several locations run by the National Nuclear Security Administration—but it’s actually the only one with a no-fly zone. As you might expect, the site is also closed to the public.