Last month while on an extended layover in LAX enroute to Seattle, I was caught a bit by surprise when Marine One flew down the runway and landed at a remote stand on the west side of the airport while I was plane spotting along the north side of the airport.
At first I thought perhaps it was not actually “MARINE 1”, because in order to be Marine 1 the President would need to be aboard. Even at that point I figured it was nothing more than a regular Marine helicopter flight ferrying a dignitary or 2 to the airport. However, things got very quiet at the Airport during what is normally a very busy time during the mid-afternoon. I figured it was just a lull in the action and that it would soon pass. I would be proven wrong.
Soon after Marine 1 arrived at the airport, I noticed out of the west side of the airport the iconic Air Force One making her way down taxiway Echo towards Runway 24L. Suffice to say that I was caught completely off guard and just starting chuckling at my good fortune. After all, how many times has anyone actually seen Air Force One live and on an actual ‘mission’? This would rank in the top 3 experience of my plane spotting ‘career’.
What’s my number #1 experience you ask? Being in Frankfurt to watch Lufthansa’s 747-8i D-ABYA depart on her inaugural flight to Washington DC.
Once Air Force One departed, 2 Boeing C-17 Globemaster aircraft carrying the President’s support vehicles (limos / security vehicles, etc) would also depart for home.
After seeing Air Force One depart, I can only wonder when will it be finally decided to replace this workhorse with a new 747-8i? After all, the current airframe is actually a ‘vintage’ Boeing 747-200 (but for ‘military purposes’ it is referred to as a VC-25A). Even though it is obviously updated with the newest and most secret technology, it is still a 23 year old aircraft!
And by the way if you are wondering about the ‘Air Force 1’ call sign, it was created in 1953 after the airplane carrying President Eisenhower was using the same call sign as another commercial flight and was creating security risks and confusion for air traffic controls. From that point on, ANY aircraft (Except Marine 1) that is carrying the president (it could be a Cessna 172!) is automatically assigned the call sign of Air Force One.
So with our further ado, I’ll let the photos tell the ‘rest of the story’: