Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Air Force One - Outside and In

A few years ago I arrived at Canberra airport for a flight to Melbourne.

It was 5.30 in the afternoon and the airport was packed, as it always is at that time of day. However, on this day it was even busier than usual because domestic flights were delayed.

What delayed us all?

President George W Bush had been in town and Air Force One (and support aircraft) were in the process of leaving.

Canberra Airport has a 10,000 foot runway and while it can easily handle a fully laden 747 for landing it's much more difficult to get one out of the place.

As Air Force One taxied to the end of the runway and out of my sight I took up the best vantage point I could.

I heard it fire up its engines to full throttle and shortly afterwards appear from behind the terminal on its take off roll.

The wings on a 747 are so wide that the outside engines sit over the sides of the Canberra airport runway meaning that huge amounts of dust and grass were being kicked up into the air by the mighty plane's engines. As it was going on dusk the combination of setting sun, grass, dust and thundering aircraft made a terrific spectacle.

The nose pulled up near the end of the runway and it began a slow, slow climb out of the nation's capital the like of which I had never seen.

To round out the entertainment it was followed by two other 747s packed with support staff, journalists and vehicles.

To this aircraft aficionado it was a great day and well worth the hour and a half delay.

I read the other day that the President's pilot is also retiring from the Air Force after taking what will then be ex-President Bush back to Texas. Apparently, it's convention and the First Officer then becomes the new President's pilot.

Wanting to know more about Air Force One I went hunting on Youtube and came up with the following clips that are well worth watching.

Air Force One Tour: The Outside



Air Force One Tour: The Inside



Air Force One: Reporters tag along



That last one is also interesting, as it shows how well treated the journalists are.

And how much fun will it be for the Obama's kids to travel on Air Force One?

I'd like one of my own (Air Force One, that is).

(Nothing Follows)


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