President-elect Donald Trump’s arrival in Palm Beach about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday tomorrow for the Thanksgiving holiday is giving some of the famously grumpy locals, and business owners, a fit.
Tight security in and around Trump’s private club of Mar-a-Lago is expected to snarl road, boating and air traffic until late Friday, when the Republican Party leader is scheduled to return to New York.
And the area is bracing for much of the same on a regular basis.
Since Trump bought Mar-a-Lago for a mere $10 million in 1985, he has spent most weekends between Thanksgiving and Easter on the property to mingle with club members, celebrities like Bill O’Reilly and Regis Philbin and moneyed friends.
There’s no indication yet Trump will change this habit.
And that could ground Jorge Gonzalez’s small business for days at a time, making him a pretty unhappy “hombre.”
In 2008, the former Continental Airlines pilot invested $300,000 in three Piper Super Cubs to develop a flying business specializing in advertisement banners.
Gonzalez set up shop at the tiny Palm Beach County Park Airport in Lantana. From there, he tows ad banners over beaches and fairs and street festivals about 400 times a year for $500 an hour.
With Trump promoted from reality TV host to leader of the free world, Gonzalez is facing huge financial losses because Trump’s visits come attached to tight air-space restrictions.
“Because Trump’s only president elect, the no-flight zone centered on Mar-a-Lago this week is a seven-mile radius,” Gonzalez says. “But on the day he becomes president, that radius stretches out to 10 miles, and restricted air space will go to 30 miles.”
Gonzalez says his planes won’t be able to take off because the airstrip is the closest to Mar-a-Lago, and similar banner-towing flights will be banned along the coast from Pompano Beach to Stuart.
“Flight schools will be affected, too, and so will sight-seeing flights,” Gonzalez says. “If the propellers aren’t turning, we’re all losing money.”