the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Damn Lies

Posted by Jeff Id on April 28, 2009

I don’t buy the horsecrap story about a photo op. Something happened here, a fighter pilot called in to a radio program today to describe the classic herding pattern of the F16’s formation which he picked out from the video on the news. He described it as, one in close ready to shoot down and one behind in case the primary get’s hit. I actually got my aeronautical degree because I was planning to join the Air Force. After a couple years I realized I don’t tend to follow rules very well and had fallen for the intricacies of the science in the planes rather than the flight. Anyway, there are a few technical details missing from the media reports. – Nothing unusual there (no sarc). Still I take the word of a trained military pilot pretty seriously.

There are several other reasons why this story about a photo-op is absolute crap. First, in order for one of the presidents planes to be used an alternate backup vehicle must be provided in case primary Airforce one fails (there are two 747’s for that reason). An ex-secret services agent called in to make that point on another radio program. The contingency plans are deeply layered. For instance there’s a plan for bio-attack, dirty bombs, nukes in the city, conventional war, terrorist attack on Washington, snipers and apparently conservative soldiers returning from Iraq. For that reason, the moving of an important asset such as the AF1 backup plane would require substantial restructuring of the contingency plan. Therefore, it’s impossible to conclude that any use of the presidents 747’s would not be very well known by the president. His direct permission is almost certainly required.

Next, for the F16’s to take photos, we need to consider that they are single pilot craft. In a straight line flight on autopilot the pilot may be able to pick up a camera and shoot but it wouldn’t be easy while circling . And it wouldn’t be much of a pic by the little fuzzy dot trailing the 747 in the photo above. So the F16’s probably weren’t there to take nice photos. Besides being very difficult to take from through the window of an F16, wouldn’t you take a helecopter or a nice two seater F18 jet? It doesn’t make sense. Perhaps these had special instrument clusters on the bottom for surveillance but those would hardly be used for PR photos.

Also, it’s important to consider that there isn’t any reason why someone couldn’t just photoshop the 747 in New York and save the $200,000 it probably cost for this flight. Photoshoping the 747 would cost around $75 dollars for me to have it professionally done and you would need image processing algorithms to be able to tell if it was fake.

Another reason this photo shoot is a cover up is that even a liberal socialist president who thinks we need to make nice with terrorists wouldn’t dare fly a 747 low over New York. It simply wouldn’t happen. If we imagine a scenario where the president truly didn’t know about this, it certainly would have had to pass a dozen other people to be approved. Are we honestly to believe that none of them figured out that people might be scared by a low flying jet trailed by F16’s over NY? —Frankly Mr. Obama, I’m not that stupid.

My conclusion, if this is not an out of control airplane there is no possibility that the President, Biden and everyone else in security didn’t know about this flight well in advance. The changes to security from all the possible attack options are too complex. If they did know about it, there was a reason for this which is well beyond my understanding.

This conclusion though by itself isn’t reasonable, because the press secretary spent 5 minutes stammering trying to make an answer. They would have had a pre-written response if this had actually been a photo shoot. They would have absolutely anticipated panic in New York and would have had a statement ready. Do you honestly believe these people didn’t consider it might start a panic to low fly a 747 around NY. Give me a break!

What we are left with is an out of control plane, piloted by someone unknown who took it directly to ground zero in New York for unknown and covered up reasons chased by F16’s in attack formation.

Not that hard to believe.

Now to the crazy stuff.

We know modern avionics can land a plane like a 747 without a pilot at the controls, it is also possible to fly the plane by remote (i.e. predator style). Is it inconceivable that they built in a plane takeover mechanism which by radio/satellite can incapacitate a pilot, i.e. gas or something and activate a remote landing?

Ignore this part if you want but technically and from a security standpoint, it makes sense to me.

84 Responses to “Damn Lies”

  1. Jeff Id said

    I know there are at least a couple of ex-military here. Am I nuts or does it make sense? What am I missing?

  2. Ryan O said

    Agreed. There is no way this is a photo op. Notice the position of the F-16 – even if it’s one of the 2-seater versions – there’s no way to take a photo-op quality picture that way. Publication-quality photo ops are always done with the photographing aircraft alongside and above or (if a camera pod is being used, which is normally what would be done) above the aircraft being photographed.

    I have literally hundreds of pictures of military photo ops for various aircraft, and the angles are always done that way. The first reason is safety of the aircraft: to ensure they don’t accidentally collide (like the Valkyrie collision: ). This is especially important over populated areas. And you damn well don’t take pictures while friggin circling.

    I’ve never heard something so blatantly stupid. Well, I probably have . . . but I can’t think of anything right now.

    Photo op my ass.

  3. Ryan O said

    BTW, my younger brother is a pilot in the Marines, and the whole reason I went Navy initially was to fly. My eyes turned to shit – relatively speaking – so I instead chose to fly underwater.

  4. Ryan O said

    Besides, even the following half-assed photoshop rendition has to come out better than a picture from an F-16 trailing Air Force One:

  5. Page48 said

    I glad you posted this. I’m surprised that more people haven’t raised the question. I’m not ex-military, but I also think it’s nuts. The photo-op explanation is kookoo.

    Actually, the whole situation is even more nuts if this really were some sort of approved “photo-op?” Were they going for a pic of the 747 wing-tip superimposed on the top of the head of the statue? Does anybody seriously think someone could get good pics from the fighter plane.

    I can’t fathom what was really going on. I hope the ex-military types will weigh in as you’ve asked.

    Hey, I just thought of something. Ask for the pics. Surely they took something if that was the mission.

  6. Jeff Id said

    #5, I’d file a FOIA for the pics if I thought it wouldn’t result in an audit of myself, my company, my sister, my mom and dad and everyone else I’ve ever met.

  7. Page48 said

    RE #6

    I hear ya’ – you don’t see me doing the asking, either!

  8. Page48 said

    Maybe somebody just took Air Force One (or whatever it’s called when it’s without the president) for a joy ride! Makes more sense that photo-ops, anyway.

    Does anybody know which direction the big plane was headed when last seen?

  9. Ryan O said

    #8 Down. Muahahahaha.

  10. Jeff Id said

    Ryan, TCO, I very much appreciate the service you guys provide to us citizens.

    There aren’t that many times I get to say that but the risks you and your families take and took previously are appreciated to the highest degree. I won’t discuss the sacrifice which non-military regularly espouse and obviously cannot understand but from an outsiders view it’s very impressive.

    In the meantime, this particular photo cover up may have been necessary for Obama’s career. I just can’t believe it worked. I think the press’s strings are being pulled.

  11. Page48 said

    “I think the press’s strings are being pulled.”

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Ya’ think? Couldn’t be? Really?

    What floors me is just that the silly photo-op explanation was accepted everywhere without question. A few may have pointed out the unnecessary expense but that was about it.

  12. TCO said

    It’s no big deal man. All the males in my family did it. And all my friends did it. If anything, would think it bizarre not to have served. Anyhooo…this is all theoretical since I might just be faking it…

    I donno. It could have been a photo op, approved on high, and the President hanging out underlings. Or it could have been some sort of test of systems or the like. I have a hard time beleiving it was a joy ride. Those planes are full of comms gear for the end of the world nuke wars and the like. They don’t do joy rides.

  13. TCO said

    Or just exactlyt what they said itr was

  14. Jeff Id said

    I’ve got a cousin with a similar experience where something was shot out of the sky over Kalamazoo Michigan and crashed in town. The radio stations went nuts until they received phone calls telling them if they discussed it anymore, there would be trouble. He saw it himself and called the station.

    “The powers that be told me we cannot discuss this anymore on the air.”

    I’ve been pushing him to write a post but in the meantime, how’s that for an answer!

  15. Page48 said

    “They don’t do joy rides.”

    It was a joke.

  16. Jeff Id said

    #13, Suuurrre it was.

  17. Ryan O said

    Jeff, weird. Look up where my workplace is located – you have my email so shouldn’t take too long.

    TCO: I don’t buy the joyride thing, either.

  18. Page48 said

    Geez, let me explain. I said (paraphrasing myself) that taking the plane for a joy ride made more sense than the photo-op story. It was a joke. I didn’t mean it seriously.

    Although I do think it makes more sense than the photo-op story (LOL – more joking).

  19. Page48 said

    Maybe the Administration just wanted to scare New Yorkers sh*tless.

    Makes as much sense as the photo-op story.

  20. TCO said

    Jeff: You are starting to sound like a nutter…

  21. Jeff Id said

    Yeah well, my tinfoil hat has a hole.

    I just don’t buy the story. It doesn’t make sense in any way I think of it.

    In your #13 post you said maybe they’re accurate. Can you explain the chain of command decisions which would allow the president to be without his backup plane, for a photo op with F16’s trailing in classic shoot to kill formations at low altitude across New York with no prior warning to the city mayor? All without Obama knowing.

    Seriously, I’m very open to being wrong on this. I’ll put my incorrectness in big bold letters because it’s an honest question. Can anyone think of a scenario where these pieces all fit?

  22. Page48 said

    “Can anyone think of a scenario where these pieces all fit?”


    Actually, I find it all very spooky.

    Sorry for hogging the post space, but this whole thing gives me the creeps.

    The only thing I can think of that might be legitimate (in terms of keeping the fly-by secret), is if the administration had some sort of inside info that someone in or around New York had some kind of surface-to-air capabilities and they decided just to throw up a great big recognizable target.

    Probably a nutso idea on my part – as I said, I’m not ex-military.

  23. Jeff Id said

    #22 Good suggestion but then there would be some warning issued and a clean press statement afterward. Seriously, if you heard the press secretary when he was first questioned about this, he was completely caught by surprise. Several minutes of stammering, honestly it was impressively bad.

  24. Jeff Id said

    Sorry, I shouldn’t comment so much myself b/c I’ve had my say. Still, there is an apparently reasonable explanation???????????

  25. Page48 said

    Re: #23, “Seriously, if you heard the press secretary when he was first questioned about this, he was completely caught by surprise. Several minutes of stammering, honestly it was impressively bad.”

    I actually didn’t hear Gibbs’ on the subject, but how can you tell one press conference from another? He has stammered his way into an “impressively bad” performance, overall, if you ask me.

    Seriously, what do you think about the fly-by?

    I’m just a person out in the hinterland with no connections to mainstream politicians or journalists, who’s just trying to grasp reality. I’m also not ex-military (did I mention that – LOL) and have no military training, whatsoever.

    But, I know hinky when I see hinky and the whole thing was weird.

  26. Page48 said

    RE: #24

    Ok, I read the official explanation for which you have provided a link.

    Call me cynical. I don’t buy this. I would love to hear Gibbs on this quote, explaining the debacle as “two training missions that became in the end a picture mission.”

    Say what?

    Cal me crazy. This is a stupid explanation.

    Oh, well, Obama is furious and has formed a committee to investigate.

    I feel safe, now.

  27. Jerry said

    Actually this makes sense…

    because today they release the costs of the whole thing…and why would they release this so fast? Is it because it makes people believe that they aware of the situation so to demise any other theories?

  28. Page48 said

    I have one more question and then I promise to shut up. I’m basing my question on the article linked in #24.

    Apparently, Obama was uninformed about the “missions.”

    The military scheduled the “missions” that became a “photo-op.”

    Does anyone know how many times in the past that the military has scheduled “photo-ops” using the President’s personal airplane in a realistic setting without the President’s knowledge?

    Does anyone have the exact flight path of the big plane?

    (I realize that the military no doubt tests these planes frequently and in various ways – for safety reasons – without informing the President, but what kind of a doodoo-head would schedule a low fly-by of NYC without considering panic – I thought that’s what military planners were paid to consider)

  29. Curieux said

    I agree with your argumentation Jeff, but there is two other possibilties :
    1 they need to calibrate new radar ABOVE New-York with a big and OLD CIVILIAN aircraft and the military peoples just forgot to plan an explaination to the street people – they probably did not imagine they frighten them.
    2 Obama’s daughters want to have a close look at New-York from above…

    My favorit is the second 😉

  30. Matt Y. said

    I totally agree that the explanation makes no sense whatsoever. That doesn’t mean it’s not true though, especially when it comes to the government. Lacking some convincing evidence otherwise, I chalk it up to stupidity.

  31. Ryan O said

    There are some things the government is stupid about. There are others it is not. Our government is not universally incompetent.

    There is no way if this were a planned photo op that Obama did not know when it was going to happen, where it was going to happen, what the flight path was, and what was in the F-16 pilot’s sh!t from the previous night. The President knows everything about AF1; the President has to approve everything about AF1. A White House staffer doesn’t get to make the plane fly on a whim as this would be an enormous security risk.

    I have no idea what they thought they were doing with this stunt, but it wasn’t a photo op. Furthermore, if it was anything planned, then Obama knew exactly what was happening.

  32. Jeff Id said

    If it was planned, it sure wasn’t smart. I just don’t believe the explanation. In the first press conference, the press secretary didn’t have a clue what to say. After that it became a photo op. Several hours later they found someone to take the fall.

    I wonder if it was a poorly thought through joy ride. It seems impossibly bad and doesn’t explain the F16’s formation behind. Crazy stuff, now where’d I put my tinfoil hat?

  33. AEGeneral said

    This was the equivalent to sending the Bomb Squad to a government building in Oklahoma City.

    Anyone with an ounce of common sense wouldn’t have planned this. And given how many people would have been involved? Sorry, I’m not buying it. This wasn’t planned.

    Where do the pieces fit? Um….either a seagull got sucked into the plane engine, someone hijacked the plane and was trying to re-enact the Hudson River miracle, or it was Bush’s fault.

    Sarcasm aside, I don’t know where the pieces fit. But “planned photo op” is less believable than the above paragraph. We’ll probably never find out what really happened.

  34. joshv said

    I think this was a planned friends and family ride on Air Force One – a thank you gift to big doners. It’s clear that at least some authorities in NYC knew about it beforehand, so the idea that this was some unscheduled joy-ride or hijacking just doesn’t hold water. The “testing out new automated control systems” theory doesn’t work, as they would *never* pick NYC for such a test. They’d do it in the middle of the desert where there is no risk to civilian populations if something went wrong.

    The people who planned this little thank you trip thought that AF1 would be recognizable from the ground, not realizing that from a distance it just looks like a really big jet. In retrospect this seems pretty damned obvious, but I can see how the planners might think “well people won’t be worried because it’s Air Force One”.

    Obama knew about it – it’s the freaking presidential jet for Christ’s sake.

  35. Joseph said

    I believe the photo-op explanation, but I never thought the photos were being taken from the F-16, for all the reasons presented upthread. I think the film was being shot from probably multiple rooftops by Hollywood film crews stationed in advance. I think this was done all with Obama’s blessing, as a favor to someone. I do think Obama is stupid enough to do this. He has done nothing but act like a rock-star since being elected. I think this is footage to be used in a future film. Because of the stink it has raised, it might not be used now, but who knows.

    Is this more or less crazy than the other possibilities?

  36. JKrob said

    One more thing – it couldn’t have been an ‘official photo shoot’ …it was way too hazy to get anything of good quality which would be wanted for an ‘official’ photo.

    However…consider this – could it have been for some future hollywood movie? AF1-type aircraft trailed by a combat aircraft in shootdown formation flying low through Manhattan. Have a camera crew on a tall building on the NJ & NY side of the Hudson River, have them make a few passes, shoot some scenes, go home. Fill in everything else with computer FX later. Liberals love to be involved with hollywood. Just a theory…and it wouldn’t suprise me at all.


  37. JKrob said

    Woops – Joseph (#35) beat me to it :-\

  38. Curieux said

    @ Jeff Id #32
    the F16’s formation behind is what make me prefer my second (and more funny) explaination.
    So, that’s how i will tell this fairy tale.
    Obama’s daughters had to get to Washington for unknow but necesseraly good reason. They were on approch to JFK or La Guardia and then one asked, “Oh please captain, i would love to see Central Park, braodway and wall Street, would you do that to me ? You know my father is your President and I am sure he’ll appreciate this”.
    The captain, “yes miss your wishes are orders” so would you like to make one or two flight over ? May be more ?

    That it’s, you get an old 747 around New-York followed by an F 16 and all the New-Yorker in the streets or at their windows to look what happen.

    Sorry, for my English, I am french and i don’t know how to start that @##@@??8! dictionnary on.

  39. JAE said

    Well, the photo-op story doesn’t seem to hold up to scrutiny. If it were just a training mission of some sort, that would have been admitted right away. Which makes me think something very weird happened. If BHO isn’t telling the truth, he may regret it, big time. He’s gonna have a very hard time convincing a large chunk of the public that it was just a photo-op and then justifying the hypocracy of spending $300,000 and a lot of carbon on it.

    It is a very entertaining Administration, that’s for sure!

  40. Page48 said

    RE #’s 35 & 36

    I like the movie idea with crews on multiple rooftops.

    Wouldn’t the production company have to get permits from the city, though?

  41. DeWitt Payne said

    I suggest everyone take a deep breath and read an account from a more authoritative source like the article in today’s WSJ which isn’t moneywalled yet. It sounds very much like a bureaucratic screw up to me.

  42. JKrob said

    and here you go…

    The AF1 escorted by a ‘Red-Tailed’ F-16 from the Alabama Air National Guard 187th Fighter Wing which used to be the 99th (Tuskegee Air Men)…
    Movie getting ready to come out – Red Tails (Tuskegee Air Men & George Lucas)…
    President Obama (black…sorta)

    it all makes sense. I bet they think that once the movie is released & the viewers see the clip, they will have forgotten this issue (hahahah!!)


  43. JAE said

    “It sounds very much like a bureaucratic screw up to me.”

    At least. I still say BHO is lying, when he said he didn’t know about this (not like the first time he lied, LOL). Either that, or he is not in charge. Either way, it ain’t good.

  44. Page48 said

    “Either way, it ain’t good”


  45. Anne said

    Off Topic

    Have you seen the latest PR fluff piece on Real Climate, authored by (the Group).

    All the usual alarmist stuff, but some pretty strong statements RC, like:

    Global warming of 2° C would leave the Earth warmer than it has been in millions of years, a disruption of climate conditions that have been stable for longer than the history of human agriculture.

    “Given the drought that already afflicts Australia, the crumbling of the sea ice in the Arctic, and the increasing storm damage after only 0.8° C of warming so far, calling 2° C a danger limit seems to us pretty cavalier.”

    I particularly like the crumbling Arctic ice statement. Gavin is always bitching about anybody using weather examples to establish climate trends, so they must mean the longer term trend. Except, hey didn’t reference any evidence, like:

    A NASA sponsored science blog!!!!

  46. Joseph said

    I think an FOIA requesting copies of the “photos” that were taken should settle this. Anyone know how to do one of those?

    I don’t buy the White House explanation. “The President was furious”. Yeah, right. That sounds too much like the phony outrage Obama displayed concerning the contractually-obligated AIG bonus payouts. Heck, even Bush was aware of that situation while still in office (and W was probably damn glad he wouldn’t have to deal with it). Obama must think we are all stupid.

    This is just the kind of stunt I would expect from a sitting President who does guest appearances on late night talk shows.

    Obama’s chances for re-election in 2012 keep growing dimmer and dimmer. Good.

  47. TCO said

    Well…you little RINO pussy Bush-lovers had a chance to go anti-bailout. Instead we had deer in the headlights John McCain. Anchor man of Annopolis. Fuck him. Crappy pilot too…

  48. JAE said

    Yeah, TCO, screw ’em all. Time for a real change, not for more “progressive Republicans.” Back to basics.

  49. Terry said

    This is a complete BS explanation, but I’m betting it will be sorted soon enough.

    That altitude in lower Manhattan, not to mention the moving bubble around an airborne AF1/2 is restricted (forbidden) airspace, and all kinds of people in the FAA (and a bunch of other TLA gov agencies) would have known about this either well before if it was truly a photo-op, or immediately thereafter if it wasn’t. No way in the world to keep that many people quiet as to what happened and who authorized it. Just a guess, but I think this could spell the end of the media honeymoon the administration has enjoyed these last three months.

    I don’t know, and am not willing to guess if it was a stupid gaffe or something else, but it’s pretty easy to trace down what was happening when a given flight was in the air – especially heavies, and especially over large cities. In the end though, there’s a bunch of lying going on, covering up whatever the hell happened.

  50. Fluffy Clouds (Tim L) said

    I have not heard anything on any of this!!!!

    Jeff Id said
    April 28, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    I’ve got a cousin with a similar experience where something was shot out of the sky over Kalamazoo Michigan and crashed in town. The radio stations went nuts until they received phone calls telling them if they discussed it anymore, there would be trouble. He saw it himself and called the station.

    “The powers that be told me we cannot discuss this anymore on the air.”

  51. Jeff Id said

    #50, It wasn’t ever in the newspapers but it went on for an hour on radio and there were a couple of comments on the internet. I knew two people who saw it. There was a large section of Kzoo blocked off for a couple hours while the military came in and cleaned it up.

    It was a big life lesson to me in our government’s ability to hush its watchdogs. Something I wish more people got.

  52. TCO said


  53. Jeff Id said

    I’m sure you’re not insinuating that I would lie.

  54. TCO said

    No. You might repeat you some bullshit though. Like…I mean I had this friend of a friend who saw Bigfoot. You know…a friend of a friend. Still bullcaka.

  55. Jeff Id said

    #54 You better believe I wouldn’t lie. That shit won’t ever happen on my blog, I’d delete the whole damn thing first.

    Aside from that crap, I didn’t reveal the detail of my experience on purpose. I was really hoping to get the first hand accounts published here rather than my own.

    I personally knew the people who saw it and I heard it directly from them by phone while it was happening, along with several others after the fact. One of them is my cousin as I said with his girlfriend at the time who I also knew. In addition, I did some Google work right after the fact and found a couple of comments from other witnesses.

    Whatever it was, the govt covered it up quick.

    Again, I’d like someone else to explain the detail because there is a bunch of corroborating word of mouth evidence. I even heard it years later from another friends first hand account which also matched the original.

    There is an airbase nearby KZoo, it is a minor base and the whole thing happened at night. I assume it was some kind of test gone wrong shot down by missiles over a city! But since Mich is a border state, weird stuff happens and there are occasional sonic booms from fighter jets on guard duty.

  56. TCO said

    Just publish it. What’s going to happen? Sheesh. You sound like one of those 70s style Bermuda Triangle beleivers.

  57. jae said

    TCO (1) reveals his basic ridiculous picture of himself (pure omniscience): (2) blows his welcome; and (3) fucks his integrity. AGAIN. I am so surprised and feel so bad about that.

  58. Jeff Id said

    TCO, you bubblehead. If you don’t want me to bring up the govt’s cover up’s you could just ask.

  59. Jamie said

    He really cannot spell, can he?

  60. TCO said

    I don’t want you to discuss this further, Jeff.

  61. WhyNot said

    It looks fake to me. Size of plane relative to buildings just doesn’t seem right. Plus if you look real close to the picture, one can infer a rough sun location by the shadow information on the building to the right. Based on this, the shadow pattern of the plane should be slightly different. But this is just my opinion. Not a very good photo with minimal information and size to enlarge.

  62. Marc K said

    I think this president has already proven he doesn’t really understand image and perception by his antics with Chavez. He is learning though and I think this was an attempt to start fixing this problem but his, and staff, inexperience is showing again.

    I have a Masters in Fine Art with minor in Graphic design and currently am a Macintosh Systems Specialist for a VERY large university. Yea the arts don’t pay well and I got a little smarter. For $75 you would get a Photoshop image any Photoshop pro could tell was a fake in a minute or less. Try $2500 for a good image of AF1 over NYC, still chump change. Even so there would be plenty of people crying foul about a fake image. “That never happened”… “I f it had we would have heard about it. AF1 flying over NYC that would have been big news!”

    Did the president know about this? certainly he did and it shows his lack of understanding about things. Someone will take the fall on this and there will be a book in about 3 years detailing it. He is really that unknowing, maybe not stupid but truly out of touch.

    Jeff I truly respect your analysis of various topics but this is borderline psycho conspiracy nonsense. You really are smarter than this and them.

  63. page48 said

    Re: #62, in part, “but this is borderline psycho conspiracy nonsense”

    Not, really, Mark K – it’s just extremely difficult to believe that any sane person in the administration actually thought this was a good idea.

    Besides – it’s fun.

  64. Marc K said

    they were planing to replace the old lady they had to do photos. Which shows even more lack of understanding or just plain old contempt for American made.

    And really didn’t most of us out her in fly over country laugh at the whack-o New Yorkers running scared in the streets. It isn’t too hard to believe the Oboma admins didn’t understand all this. I mean He is the average New Yorkers wet dream of a president after all.

  65. Dragon said

    While for one, i do agree that that specifics of this whole ordeal are suspicious, there are some holes in your article. I am a current soldier in the US Army and I have worked presidential security and escort detail before. Just to fill in some info:

    1) There are more than 2 AF1s. There are 4 of the customized Boeing 747 type and a few other smaller, personal sized aircraft for smaller missions, destinations and security. The multiple 747s are used as backups as well as security/decoys to throw off potential hostile observers.

    2) The whole operation was initiated by the Air Force. The F16 Fighting Falcons where in a trailing formation, but not in an attack/warning formation. In a attack/warning formation, the two fighter aircraft would flank to the direct sides of the plane to get a visual on the pilot(s) and guide them out of restricted airspace while keeping a visual on all actions of the pilot at the time. If the pilots on the offending aircraft did not comply with instructions, one F16 would fly into targetting position while the other maintained visual contact and offered final warnings. The communicating F16 would not peel off until communications have failed and the attack has been given the green light for strike.

    3) Even the Pentagon and the US Air force wouldn’t risk greenlighting an attack on such a large aircraft, especially AF1, over New York City, they would exhaust every possible avenue long before a firing alternative was given. They know that shooting the aircraft down would cause massive collateral damage.

    4) If the photos were to be taken from the flanking jets, they would not be using regular F16s. They would need planes that either already has photo equipment installed and is specially made for that purpose which some special F16s are. Or they would need to use 2-seater aircraft because the front pilot would guide the craft, while the second pilot handles the photo equipment. Judging from the photos and video i’ve seen, Air Force One was banking around a certain point in the city so the photos could have been taken from a pre-positioned photographer in one of the buildings, but I could be wrong.

    5) when you factor the specifics of the 3 planes as well as the potential costs of evacuating so many of the buildings in downtown NYC and the resulting chaos thereafter, the costs mounted to $450k+ from initial estimates.

    6) Contrary to popular belief, not everything the government does is a conspiracy theory. Obama hired his aides for his trust in their abilities and competency to get the job done without constant supervision. For something like a simple “photo shoot”, with Obama and Biden away for diplomatic protocols, the Security manager would be in a position to make a judgement call on his own. “The Air Force is requesting permission to use one of the aircraft for photo ops”. Thats not exactly something you would need to hold hands on. The decision was made, the mission was conducted with poor judgement and now the whole line from the president all the way down to the specific aviation section is taking the inevitable heat for it. When punishment comes from the CIC(Commander-In-Chief), alot of people are getting harsh penalties and losing rank, money, and time.

    7) The notifications were sent out ahead of time, but like most regular government officials, they didn’t answer their phones or check their messages when the necessary notifications were sent out. If you’ve ever tried to call key officials or important personnel, you’d know what I mean. The way the military works is when a mission has already been green lighted and given a time for execution, the necessary people will be notified. If they don’t answer the phone, a message will be left if possible and the mission continues.

    You may wonder how I can be in the Army, yet know so much about aircraft and operations. I grew up fascinated with all aircraft, mainly fighter jets and everything that makes AF1 unique. I was in the Navy first onboard the USS Kitty Hawk so I’ve seen some of the best jets in action as well as know a little bit about the different formations and general protocols spanning the different branches and DoD in general. I joined the US Army Infantry because I liked getting dirty and living the true soldier experience.
    I apologize for my rant, but I like to make sure proper information is set out and I am usually the voice of reason in these types of situations. 😛 Now please research things a bit more before you guys jump to conclusions.

  66. Jeff Id said


    It’s always helpful to hear from those with experience. We’ve had a couple of other military personnel comment on this post.

    “Now please research things a bit more before you guys jump to conclusions.”

    This comment needs addressing.

    First, consider the title of the post – Damn Lies and then the fact that the point of the post was that this was no ‘photo op’.

    Second, consider that the information in the post came from a fighter pilot and secret service agent who described the attack pattern of the jets on video and security measures required to fly the jets.

    “If the pilots on the offending aircraft did not comply with instructions, one F16 would fly into targetting position while the other maintained visual contact and offered final warnings.”

    I don’t claim expertise in this, I only mentioned that a US fighter pilot saw the formation on video and concluded it was an attack formation. If the pilot was simply trailing behind as stated in your scenario, there is no way this was a photo op right!?

    I believe there are only two 747’s rather than four as you stated, from multiple articles as well as the security officer who used to work with a past president. From a quick search on wiki.

    Reagan ordered two identical Boeing 747s to replace the aging 707 that he used for transport.[5] The interior designs were drawn up by First Lady Nancy Reagan, who used designs reminiscent of the American Southwest.[5] The first aircraft was delivered in 1990, during the administration of George H. W. Bush. Delays were experienced to allow for additional work to protect the aircraft from electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effects.

    The post is correct for the info I can find as are many of the comments. The whole scene was crazy.

    I don’t know what happened and don’t believe the gov’t explanation. There is no way people would be so stupid as to fly a 747 at low altitude around NY even by the military. Just consider the odds that NY was picked as the city to pull this in? Think about it! Really! What’s wrong with photoshop? And there is no way that 1 of 2 planes allocated to the president flies without his knowledge yet the press secretary is caught by surprise. Also, there’s no way these F16’s were on photo duty.

    The combination makes the whole explanation a DAMN lie.

  67. TCO said

    Jeff: Your nutterness…sad really. Makes me spend that much less time looking at your jump to conclusions Steig stuff.

  68. page48 said

    RE: #64, in part, “And really didn’t most of us out her in fly over country laugh at the whack-o New Yorkers running scared in the streets.”

    Geez – I can’t believe you said that. If I had been in New York on 9/11, I think I would have keeled over at the sight of that plane the other day. I wouldn’t know AF1 if it was sitting on a runway, much less up in the sky.

    Re: #65, in part, “The whole operation was initiated by the Air Force.”

    I feel a lot safer knowing that!

    Seriously, I’m not a conspiracy minded sort of person. I think, in this instance, it’s actually comforting to think that there’s more to the story than the official explanation. As I said somewhere upthread, who wants to think that anybody in the upper ranks of the military is this stupid – not-to-mention cruel.

  69. Jeff Id said

    #67, I know. If my goal was to be a climatologist I wouldn’t talk about politics at all. Can you articulate in more than 5 sentences where my logic fails?

    I would love to be shown another reasonable and much less stressful way to see the situation.

  70. Jeff Id said


    I feel the same way, it would be comforting to know what really happened. If the military was really that stupid, it’s actually more frightening than a hijacking.

    TCO, can you imagine authorizing this …. um….. mission?

  71. Fluffy Clouds (Tim L) said

    If that cat could talk, what a tale he’d tell

    ‘Bout Della and the Dealer and the dog, as well,

    But the cat was cool, and he never said a mumblin’ word.

  72. Marc K said

    You know the FAA in NYPD were notified about this ahead of time and no one is denied being notified? So how the ____ can anyone say this planed event was something other than stupid? Come on really!
    etc etc

  73. Jeff Id said

    #72, If you think it was just stupid, do you also think the president wasn’t aware of it? Sure it’s possible it was just that stupid, but I’m not buying it was a photo op yet. A joy ride makes more sense perhaps for the people who managed to give him the $500million for his campaign.

    Check out the explanation for the F16 from the first link in 72.

    The photo op was combined with a training exercise to save money, according to another administration official who also spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak publicly about the behind-the-scenes discussions about the flight.

    The article also stated the F16 flew alongside the jumbo which is what Dragon described would be done to see inside the cockpit.

    “The F-16 jet that flew alongside came from the D.C. National Guard’s 113th fighter wing.”

    I only have seen a couple of pics and short video’s myself so I can’t judge the formation from differing accounts.

    There’s more to this than we’re being told. I bet we don’t see even one decent ‘real’ picture.

  74. Matt Y. said

    The joy ride/paypack for large donors scenario definitely sounds plausible. Maybe the could release the passneger manifest, since this is the new era of transparent government and all .

    #64 – I don’t see the humor in taunting survivors of a terrorist attack regardless of political leanings.

  75. Hu McCulloch said

    An interesting thread.

    What caught my eye was the mention in the Bloomberg article that all personnel involved were AF. Having learned about AF fliers from watching Top Gun, isn’t it reasonable to assume that a young pilot with access to the spare AF1 did this on a dare, or under the influence of something? Then two F16s scrambled to find out what was going on, determined there was no threat, and escorted the plane to an airfield.

    The “photo op” story would then make sense as a lame cover-up of the pathetically bad security involved that would allow this to happen.

    So by all means, FOI the photos!

    Also, how hard would it be to paint an unemployed 747 to look like AF1 as a stunt or movie scene?

    Jeff — What was the date of the Kalamazoo incident in #50-51?

  76. TCO said

    1. Never underestimate the power of stupidity. I’m capable of authorizing and have (unless I’m a poseur) gotten people hurt, caused incidents, been given a letter of instruction, etc. etc.

    2. Even if there was something freaky on this story, what really gets me is Jeff Id talking about his relative and the hush hush on an overflight or something. I call bullshit. I call nutter. And I’ve been to the Test Station (area 54). Unless I’m just googling and making it up. I mean SHEESH. The guy sounds like one of those damn 70s cliched movies or TV shows with the hush hush military. Are we going ot hear about Operation Blue Book next? About Bermuda Triangle? Veliokovsky?

    3. Hu: It’s the NAVY! Not the Air Force in Top Gun. And hikinks over CONUS and over NYC are a good way to get your wings clipped…Now shouldn’t you be doing some econ stuff? Come on now…

  77. Jeff Id said

    #76, No Roswell or Bermuda here just the facts and some speculation. Do you really think the govt. doesn’t cover some of it’s idiocy/embarrassment?

    You are in denial.

  78. TCO said

    I think you are full of shit, CIVLANTian.

  79. Marc K said

    Hu. LOL that’s a good one “Having learned about AF fliers from watching Top Gun…” and just incase you were serious. Again I repeat this event was planed people were notified ahead of time.

    Jeff, Yes it’s possible there were donors on the plane. Maybe even the Obama kids were on it. If I were the Presidents kid I want to go for a ride wouldn’t you? Would all that look bad, yes, is it really a big deal, no.

  80. Hu McCulloch said

    RE TCO #76,

    Hu: It’s the NAVY! Not the Air Force in Top Gun. And hikinks over CONUS and over NYC are a good way to get your wings clipped…

    My bad. But would petty rules stop a Lt. Cruise? Surely a load of gumption is what shows you have the Right Stuff. This guy may be sitting in the brig (wrong service) at Guantanamo, but I bet he emerges a major!


    Gotcha! Its Velikovsky Please disquality yourself from all future discussion of this important matter …

  81. TCO said

    Are you a nutter? Don’t make me smack you around with the Brealey and Myers book.

  82. TCO said

    Unless you’re ripped that is…

  83. Joseph said

    Big surprise this. The White House has decided not to release the photos.

    Can’t release photos that don’t exist.

  84. curious said

    For info. Louis Caldera resignation story –

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