Air Force One landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Being a photojournalist can mean a lot of stressful work, but it definitely has its perks — and one of the best experiences for an AvGeek photojournalist is being approved for White House press credentials and covering a presidential visit. I’ve been lucky enough to do that three times, and it never, ever, gets old.
This story is not about politics; it’s about the plane, the process of transporting a head of state, and what it’s like to cover the amazing ritual that is an Air Force One arrival/departure sequence.
Presidential travels are never a simple affair; watching the ballet of security and military ritual, one can’t help but to be impressed by the sheer magnitude of managing the task.
Air Force One arriving at King County International Airport on October 9, 2015 -Photo: Francis Zera | Airline Reporter
There are few aircraft as readily identifiable as the 747-200B/VC-25 known as Air Force One (even though there are actually two of them; more on that in a bit). The aircraft is designed to ferry the President of the United States, other elected and government officials, VIPs, and the White House press corps, anywhere in the world and in high style.
Any U.S. Air Force aircraft in which the president is flying carries the call sign Air Force One. But it’s the two VC-25s that are the flagship aircraft most of the world will immediately recognize as being the primary mode of transport for the current US president.
President Obama arriving in Seattle via Air Force One – Photo: Francis Zera | Airline Reporter
Suffice it to say that, wherever Air Force One shows up, interest (and security) are high. For the recent Seattle visit, on October 9th, local AvGeek interest was strong, and at least one of the sanctioned airport viewing areas was kept open for public viewing.
Speaking of security, there are two identical VC-25s, one with tail number 28000 and the other 29000. Whenever the president is traveling on one of them, the other is usually stationed somewhere in the region nearby as a backup. There are duplicate sets of presidential motorcade vehicles as well.
Below is a series of images from the president’s recent three-hour fundraising visit to Seattle.