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Trump in Palm Beach: President’s ninth visit comes with new wrinkles


President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to Mar-a-Lago should feature the least disruptive arrival motorcade of his presidency and a brief Saturday reprieve for weekend pilots who are grounded when the president is in town.

Trump, whose eight previous presidential visits have often snarled rush hour traffic between Palm Beach International Airport and his tropical White House, isn’t expected to arrive on Air Force One until 11 p.m. or later Friday night.

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Trump is scheduled to remain at Mar-a-Lago through Sunday, but with a 5-hour side trip to Mississippi on Saturday.

Friday’s late arrival is due to Trump’s scheduled appearance at a campaign rally in Pensacola at 8 p.m. eastern time before he heads to Palm Beach.

Because of his late arrival at PBIA, Trump won’t be greeted on the tarmac by the group of supporters that usually awaits him. Trump appeared energized while spending about 18 minutes interacting with the group during his last visit.

Trump’s Pensacola rally is ostensibly for the his 2020 re-election campaign, but it could have a more immediate political impact in neighboring Alabama ahead of Tuesday’s special Senate election. That’s the race in which Trump has endorsed Roy Moore, the Republican who was recently accused of initiating sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in 1979.

On Saturday morning, Trump plans to travel to Mississippi to attend the openings of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. The president is expected to return to Palm Beach in the afternoon.

The Federal Aviation Administration normally issues flight restrictions around Palm Beach for the entire weekend during Trump’s visits. But because of the Mississippi trip, the restrictions will not be in place on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Palm Beach County’s small Lantana airport, which is about 6½ miles southwest of Mar-a-Lago, is effectively shut down while the FAA restrictions are in place. Saturday’s five-hour window will allow some activity at the airport, said Jonathan Miller, the president of Stellar Aviation, the airport’s fixed-base operator.

“It’ll allow us to operate but most of our largest customers relocate for the entire weekend,” Miller said of the flight schools and other businesses that rent space at Lantana.

“It’s of a marginal help, but it is something…Maybe some weekend pilots will take their planes out for a few hours,” Miller said.

In the town of Palm Beach, police will start closing roads around Mar-a-Lago about 1 p.m. Friday, and those roads will remain closed through Sunday. During the closure period, all forms of travel, including pedestrian travel, will be prohibited on South Ocean Boulevard from South County Road to Southern Boulevard. The travel restrictions will also extend eastward to the ocean. Residents of the closure area will be granted access with proper credentials.

As president, Trump has made eight visits to Mar-a-Lago totalling about 22 days. He’s also expected to return for Christmas, though the White House has not released any details.



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