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New York to White House: Are You %$#&*^& Nuts?

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No, make that the entire country to the White House.

Monday's flyover of New York for a photo op of the 747 that serves as Air Force One was the most stunningly stupid decision by a group of adults authorized to use government airplanes that it's possible to imagine. On a scale of 10 for utter idiocy, it's a 13. It makes those clueless guys who busted the Washington ADIZ in a Cessna 150 a couple of years ago look like Lindbergh finding Paris with a compass and a watch.

The most disgusting part of it—it's damn near evil—is that the FAA and the White House notified the NYPD of the flyover ahead of time but classified it, preventing its release to the public. There is no other way to described it than this: These agencies engaged in negligent terrorizing of a public still traumatized by the September 11, 2001 attacks. While we're talking about resetting relations with Cuba and Venezuela, what we really need to be doing is resetting our own government, or at least the part of it that deals with the highly charged relationship between airplanes and the national security apparatus. And surprise!...it applies to Air Force One, too.

Somewhere, I'm sure a few people are saying, "Oh, New York, get over it." I wasn't in New York on September 11th, but I know many people who were. I can't look deep enough to get over it. When I saw the pictures of Monday's fiasco, I had the same gut wrenching dread that we all had on that awful day almost eight years ago. It still seems like yesterday to me. I don't think the country is anywhere near being able to tough it out when an airplane as big as a 747 flies that low over New York or any other major city. Nor should anybody be testing the premise.

And this was done by the same people who have the unmitigated gall to frisk the citizenry before boarding airliners, to bar general aviation aircraft from ever more airspace and to generally make life miserable for the rest of us while they do they very thing that scares the hell out of all of us.

It's hard to know how even to respond to this sort of lunacy. I for one expect President Obama on the tube today explaining himself and illuminating us on who he has fired. I don't care if he knew about it or not. It's his watch. We just loaned him the airplane.

Meanwhile, to whomever originated this stunt, how about this: A 12-year-old with a copy of Photoshop could have gotten your photo op with a lot less grief than this mess will create.

Comments (73)

You forgot to comment on the appalling arrogance of the White House and USAF spending the money this ill-advised photo flight must have cost. Who was it that said the auto execs were foolish for wasting money on needless airplane trips when the budget's tight?

Posted by: Brian Veazey | April 27, 2009 8:44 PM    Report this comment

I agree that it was a major SNAFU (Situation Normal, all ____ up) for a major league Part 121 jetliner (a mighty Boeing 747, no less!) to fly at low altitude over NYC given what happened eight years ago this September 11. Its the same as it would have been in the wake of December 7, 1941 if a squadron of B-17 flying fortresses were to have flown low over Hawaii. You can be sure US Navy and US Army gunners would have been very trigger-happy!

Two years ago, our nation was in shock when an emotionally disturbed student at Virginia Polytech killed 30 people and then himself. I argued to many of my acquaintances that the solution to such tragedies is to permit sane, law abiding citizens to carry handguns so they can shoot back in self defense.

However I want to assure everyone here, that I have very mixed feelings about allowing private citizens to possess human-portable surface to air missiles. On the one hand such armament could prevent the next September 11, 2001 (or the next Pearl Harbor?). On the other hand, what if the president or some other dignitary were aboard the 747 that flew low over New York City on Monday? Or, 400 members of the public in addition to the flight and cabin crews?

Whoever is to blame for said snafu, should be out of his or her job as fast as it would take a SAM to fly from the surface to whatever height above ground that plane was at.

Posted by: Alex Kovnat | April 28, 2009 8:02 AM    Report this comment

The White House needs to be able to justify to the American taxpayer each and every use of Air Force One. We shouldn't be paying for a "glamour" photo-shoot mission of this equipment regardless of where it takes place. Ill-conceived in every way.

Posted by: Jean-Francois Reat | April 28, 2009 12:52 PM    Report this comment

Appallingly bad judgement and highly insensitive to a city (and country) so violently traumatized just 8 years ago. Wow has it really been 8 years? Like you Paul my gut wrenches to this very day whenever I see video of those planes and those towers burning. I wasn't in New York that day but as (bad) luck would have it I happened to turn on the Today show just as they were showing Tower 1 on fire and speculating that a small plane might have hit it. The freakiest thing (chills run up my spine just thinking about it) was while watching the live video of Tower 1 a large plane enters the picture from the right and then disappears behind Tower 1. What was so strange is when watching it I was so fixated on the building that it didn't occur to me to wonder where that passenger jet went because it never came back into view. It wasn't until a moment later then when they changed cameras that you could see both towers were on fire. Only then did it register that the plane we saw fly onto the screen actually hit Tower 2. I and millions of other people were sitting there watching this carnage on live TV. I'll never forget that day or those images as long as I live. Just horrible! What happened in New York yesterday was simply inexcusable.

Posted by: Mark Simmons | April 28, 2009 5:57 PM    Report this comment

Gee, I dunno. According to this same White House there is no war on terror so aircraft flying low over any city should no longer be cause for alarm. Of course this is the same administration who demonizes corporate jets at every possible opportunity and refuses to reveal the type or cost of the "military jet" used to transport Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio back to Washington D.C. on February 13th to cast the final vote to, in effect, pass the massive spending bill, then return him to Ohio after keeping the Senate open for many hours after normal closing for him to vote. Senator Brown had recently lost him mother and I have empathy for him in that regard. However do you really think the same courtesy would have been extended to a senator voting against the massive spending bill? Nah, me neither. IOW they really don't care.

Posted by: Mike Thompson | April 28, 2009 8:45 PM    Report this comment

This is a silly rant. The president, secretary of defense and secretary of the air force all have more important things to do than approve every stupid operation conducted by the air force on a daily basis (the air force and other branches of the armed services do hundreds of stupid things every day, often that have consequences far more serious and costly than the NY fly-over). If that were the job of the White House staff, they'd have no time for anything else. If anyone should be fired, it is the New York mayor's office staffer who neglected to pass along the advance notice so the event could have been publicized by the people whose job it is to do those things. Let's get serious, folks.

Posted by: nicholas budd | April 29, 2009 3:49 AM    Report this comment

I agree with N. Budd. I am disappointed that the editor of AvWeb would take this incident and use it to bash the current administration. Sure it was dumb, but to use this lower-level decision as an opportunity to rant against the current President is silly and obviously political. The last Administrations antics were never condemned in this publication and there were really good reasons to do so. The poor economy that the Bush years created has hurt GA to its bones...if not killed it. If those non-stop, hugely poor decisions were not condemned, then let's not start the silly season so soon after we get a President who is actually trying to help. Perfectly? No, but a vast improvement.

Having said all that, can we (AvWeb) leave the partisan politics aside.

Jeff

Posted by: Jeff D | April 29, 2009 6:08 AM    Report this comment

This is not political thing it is merely a manifestation of a bureaucrat gone wild. Air Force 1 is a national asset and as such is not to be used to further a political agenda or some photo op desire for an insensitive idiot. Paul is correct in his feelings. We as Americans lost almost 3000 people that horrible day. To pull such a stunt in NYC is disgusting. I fly in and out of TEB on many occasions and still can't believe that the twin towers are gone. Every time that I climb aboard a fire engine to answer a call I am reminded of the FDNY 343 who gave their lives. This bureaucrat must lose his/her job. Also it may be a good idea for them to go to a NYC fire station and talk to the crews who lost brother firefighters that fateful day to understand the significance of their actions.

N Budd and Jeff please go to http://www.nyfd.com/9_11_wtc.html and then tell me if this is a silly rant.

We need people in government who can think making decisions regarding the use of national assets, not PR agents. Thanks Paul, right on. Leo CFI and Firefighter

Posted by: Leo LeBoeuf | April 29, 2009 7:41 AM    Report this comment

Partisan politics my foot.

This was a stupid stunt and if it had been done nine months ago the media would have been screaming so loud it would make Mr Bertorelli's piece look like a church bulletin. Why are some people so afraid of holding this administration accountable?

Posted by: Steven Dieck | April 29, 2009 7:51 AM    Report this comment

Jeff,

I can't speak for Paul Bertorelli, and maybe he'll post a response of his own, but I think it was very stupid to do the fly-by regardless of who is in the White House. I think most of us would have said the same thing if George W. Bush were still President.

You need to re-read Paul's comments. They do not blame the Obama Administration for anything, other than this stupid stunt, and he asks President Obama to hold someone accountable for it. Where is the partisan politics in that?

Nicholas, this was CLASSIFIED, so it was not able to be publicized.

Paul also mentions that the FAA was negligent, and criticizes the TSA (I assume he's alluding to the TSA in his comment about being frisked). These two agencies have been in bad shape for years...long before Obama made it to the White House. So again, where was Paul openly critical of all things Obama, and where was he expressing his partisan poliltical agenda?

Posted by: David Brown | April 29, 2009 7:56 AM    Report this comment

N Budd and Jeff,

You miss the point. Try to be a little less synchophantic of the Administration and the media. Do you believe this boneheaded decision was really made by a low-level staffer somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon?

These folks in NY were terrorized by their own country. On Obama's watch. What do you think the reaction would be if it happened on the Bush/Chaney watch? The media outcry would be off the charts.

I hear that that the NYC PD was told about the event before hand but were told NOT to disclose it as it was a matter of national security.

Unbelievable!

We Americans should be a little more concerned about our eroding liberties, like LASP, Operation Playbook and the TSA, and less concerned about not hurting someone's feelings in the West Wing.

Posted by: Ross Bennett | April 29, 2009 7:58 AM    Report this comment

I want to be able to do photo flybys of the Statue of Liberty also. Doesn't the name of that monument mean anything? Aviation is fundemantal to American freedoms. If I see another outburst like this one I will say goodbye to AvWeb...

Posted by: dan devillers | April 29, 2009 8:04 AM    Report this comment

Does anyone see the irony of this administration using the most expensive private business jet in the world for a publicity joy ride photo op, while bashing the use of corporate aircraft for legitimate business travel? This stunt, and Arlen Specter's party switch on "principle", are the two most current defining events of our present two-faced unprincipled national political leadership.

Posted by: Pat Brown | April 29, 2009 8:22 AM    Report this comment

The "Administration" buck stops with Mr. Obama. Regardless, the most damning of this event is that AIR FORCE ONE is the most globally recognizable BUSINESS JET that flies. It's business mission may be government and higher security and communications than the rest of the GA biz jet community, but remains to serve leaders of an organization to better conduct their business and utilize their time more efficiently just as any corporate leader would do, even the Big Three auto companies. If the Administration can justify cost of operations for a non business use of AF1, then the Administration needs to apologize to the Biz Jet industry and its customers, and be held for judgement of losses by the Airframers, employees, and related support companies and personnel which have suffered losses due to the Administration's comments.

Posted by: PAUL STENGER | April 29, 2009 8:33 AM    Report this comment

This is fundamentally a story about bad judgment in aviation. You may be seeing it as political because I'm criticizing someone you voted for. (I voted for him, too, and would again.) The point is, agencies like the FAA and the Defense Department expect GA pilots to exercise good judgment in avoiding the D.C. ADIZ and TFRs so we should not be at all reticent to criticize the government when it fails to use the good judgment it insists of us. Some years ago, I was on an aircraft carrier that got rear ended by a missile cruiser. The cruiser skipper was below decks at the time and the carrier captain was eventually found at fault. Still, the cruiser captain was relieved because it was his command. He was in charge. Same deal here. We wouldn't expect the President to resign over an incident like this, but he's still the skipper and ultimately responsible. And remember, his inaugural speech included the call for a new era of responsility.

So, as I used to say from the back seat of my Dad's 1953 Oldsmobile to his constant irritation, are we there yet? If heads don't roll after this fiasco, apparently not.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 29, 2009 8:38 AM    Report this comment

Hey, I never apologized for the boneheaded stunt. I just do not think its appropriate to blame the Presidnt for a dumb decision that was, in all likelihood, made at a much lower level.

I suspect this is the kind of decision that was made with little deliberation, by the military for a nice propaganda photo. For anyone to believe that Obama somehow approved of this stunt is politics on its face.

I suspect those quick to blame this White House for this SNAFU are the same ones who have excused the Bush Administration for torture, Abu Ghraib, and Katrina, etc. I can respect consistancy, but the politics here is obvious.

Dumb stunt, yes. Obama's fault, no.

Jeff

Posted by: Jeff D | April 29, 2009 8:55 AM    Report this comment

Seems to me the President would have to have known about the photo shoot in advance. Air Force One has to be available to the President 24/7 and ready to fly anywhere on a moments notice in case of an emergency. I know the #2 plane was probably sitting in the hangar at Andrews, but I believe the President is probably informed whenever one of the planes is sent out on a special mission like this. This is only common sense. There will be some sacrificial lambs in the President's staff so that he can claim his ignorance in the matter.

Posted by: Dennis Crenshaw | April 29, 2009 8:59 AM    Report this comment

Are flyovers at NASCAR events dumb stunts that should not be funded by taxpayers? This flyby and photo shoot was announced and approved by all the appropriate agencies. Should the F-22 not be allowed to fly at airshows - it is by far a more expensive USAF asset. Do folks run into the streets whenever a Ryder truck rolls by? The fundemental issue here is that the terriorists appear to be winning. I used to be able to go out to the plane and say good-bye to my Dad when he went on business trips, and then go up on the observation deck to watch the plane depart. This nation needs to re-evaluate the freedoms we used to have and strive to recover them....

Posted by: dan devillers | April 29, 2009 9:05 AM    Report this comment

Jeff - Come up with the name (doubtful) of the bonehead that approved the mission, and the public will losse the outcry upon him/her. Otherwise, until such time, the person ultimately responsible for actions in this administration is the President, no politics involved, dem or rep. .

Posted by: PAUL STENGER | April 29, 2009 9:41 AM    Report this comment

Come on folks - it was a dumb thing, and the president has already indicated his extreme displeasure with those who OK'd it. I'm confident some one with be getting more than a sad face in they're personnel file.

Press and public relations people have a propensity to act before they think. I have had a run-in or two with them, both when in the military and since, where they showed extreme insensitivity.

Had this happened at some time before 1/20/2009 there would have probably been a big cover up. Never fear, heads will roll.

Posted by: Dennis McNish | April 29, 2009 9:56 AM    Report this comment

The only dumb bonehead thing I can think about this is that it was not publicized as an expression of American freedom. The dumb thing is that it was somehow classified as 'secret' or something because of the fear that is pervasive in our society. How cool would it be to see a VC-25 (AF1) flying low and fast trailed by an F-16? People should have been lined up along the shore of the river watching and applauding!

Posted by: dan devillers | April 29, 2009 10:13 AM    Report this comment

Awright guys, get a grip here. Anybody who thinks that one of the 89th MAW aircraft which sole purpose to transport the top leadership of this country, including evacuating them from the city in the event it becomes necessary, is flown on a whim without approvals coming right from the top has no understanding of how Special Air Missions works. Without a doubt WHMO approved (probably tasked) the mission but the coordination went at least to the Chief of Staff of the White House and maybe to POTUS. This took massive coordination involving several agencies of the government. This simply demonstrates how the disconnect between the NCA and the rest of the country has never been greater. Had the Bush administration done something this stupid the screams from the the left would have been long and loud enough to get OSHA involved to regulate workplace noise.

Posted by: Mike Thompson | April 29, 2009 10:56 AM    Report this comment

Mike, you are absolutely correct. It would be hypocrital to think otherwise

Posted by: Ross Bennett | April 29, 2009 12:18 PM    Report this comment

Who authorised the flight? According to the White House, it was Louis Caldera, Director White House Military Office. He announced Monday, "Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision...." (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Statement-from-Louis-Caldera-Director-White-House-Military-Office-on-Air-Force-One-flight-over-New-York/). (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/28/nyregion/28plane.html).

Apparently James Johnson from FAA "Air Traffic" signed a memo that laid out the plan for the operation, anticipated a fearful reaction in New York, and forbade publicity. The flight took 3 hours, was originally for training, and could have been sent anywhere. So I guess they thought the marginal cost of doing a photo shoot would be low. (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2009/04/29/2009-04-29_feds_knew_flyover_might_spark_panic.html)

The flight apparently cost US$328,835, of which about US$35,000 was for fuel. (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jQCKDUYswf9K9lMjX4oxtDxHVqXQD97S2DO00).

Marc Mugnos was apparently the NYC official who was told of the plan but didn't pass word to the mayor, which earned him a reprimand. (http://www.newsday.com/news/local/politics/ny-nyplan2912705862apr28,0,5644270.story)

Posted by: James DeLaHunt | April 29, 2009 1:34 PM    Report this comment

Ross Bennett, you say, "...What do you think the reaction would be if it happened on the Bush/Chaney watch? The media outcry would be off the charts...". Are you saying there's no media outcry in this instance, because the president is Obama? Here's some articles: http://news.google.ca/news?pz=1&cf=all&ncl=1342479564, http://news.google.ca/news?pz=1&cf=all&ncl=1343449831 . What's the scale for your charts? How high does this outcry register? :-)

Posted by: James DeLaHunt | April 29, 2009 1:35 PM    Report this comment

ATC blog "The Potomac Current and Undertow" has posted what it says is the email memo detailing the flight, by the head of the FAA's National Capital Region Coordination Center, James Johnston (not "Johnson", thank you NY Newsday). http://currentandundertow.blogspot.com/2009/04/sam-i-am_4683.html

I found the details of IFR -> VFR clearance, altitudes (1000-1500'), etc. fascinating. TPCAU awards Johnston it's fourth AssHat Award. "This is the type of stupidity that FAA management creates for air traffic controllers at Potomac TRACON everyday. We're glad we could share our experiences with the rest of the country."

I agree with dan devillers. If Johnston had not written:

"The information in this document is considered FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY, and should only be shared with persons with a need to know. Information in this document shall not be released to the public or media."

... and instead had seen to it there was a press announcement like, "Hey folks! A VC-25 is coming to New York on a training flight! Come watch it do a formation flight with an F-16 at 1000' AGL by the Statue of Liberty!", then there wouldn't have been upset, and there probably would have been a lot more good photos in airliners.net.

Posted by: James DeLaHunt | April 29, 2009 1:58 PM    Report this comment

All good. Back to the other root of the topic: cost to conduct good will missions when the Administration is otherwise critical of business jets and new encumberances upon GA. Regardless of whom is responsible, besides public communications as relates to NY, the Administration (all of its members) have played a dramatic role in harming the GA industry, it's customers, pilots and all others connected, by its ill thought comments and lack of understanding of how powerfull the words of key leading Aministration personnel are in the media.

Posted by: PAUL STENGER | April 29, 2009 2:14 PM    Report this comment

(Part A) I agree that the "government" has inflicted additional image problem on GA by its indignation toward the use of private jets to ferry auto execs to DC to ask for taxpayer bailout money.

In this case, "government" started with Congress (BOTH parties) taking great umbridge when the cameras were rolling at the auto exec/bailout hearings. The criticism was entirely bi-partisan! And don't think for a moment that this political grandstanding would be taking place were it not for the public outrage that continues over the entire financial collapse and bailout.

The Obama Administration was rather late to jump on the bandwagon.

Now I suppose many current Administration critics here are rather silent with outrage toward those who really desrves the blame of GA's black-eye - the tone-deaf auto execs! PLUS, the economic circumstances that created this whole mess can be rightly laid on the door-step of the Bush Administration.

Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees.

(continued)

Posted by: Jeff D | April 29, 2009 3:31 PM    Report this comment

(Part B) Further, we GA types better understand that in the current economic climate, rightly or wrongly, fat cat executive tooling around in private jets is just not going to go over well with the public. That's a fact and no PR campaign is gong to be able to put much of a positive spin on this image. The blame to lay here is on the out-of-control executive compensation schemes in this country and the disaster that has befallen our entire econmic structures and assumptions.

It might make one feel better to blame one party or the other, but the truth is that both parties are bought and paid for by the elites in this country. Another hard reality is just now the American public is starting to wake up from the stupor of our financial excesses and are beginning to ask some difficult questions.

I fear GA is going to continue to do poorly as this bright light of scrutiny continues to shine in our direction. This combined with the harsh economic climate is gauranteed to negatively impact everyone in the GA community.

Jeff

Posted by: Jeff D | April 29, 2009 3:32 PM    Report this comment

The point has been made that a 12 year old could have produced the desired photos on his computer, and this point cannot be challenged. Therefore, the only possible two explanations are (1) the "kid in a candy store" syndrome, or (2) the true reason has yet to be revealed.

Posted by: Fred Slater | April 30, 2009 3:56 AM    Report this comment

I see two reasons for this. The first one is one we hear to justify most other actions of this administration: "We won the election". The second is that a 9/11 can never happen again. Our monarch has bowed to the Saudi monarch, and we are Saudi subjects, and we are protected now.

Posted by: Jim Carroll | April 30, 2009 5:30 AM    Report this comment

posted by Pat Brown on April 29, 2009: "This stunt, and Arlen Specter's party switch on "principle", are the two most current defining events of our present two-faced unprincipled national political leadership." No, its not politics, is it?

Posted by: ken babin | April 30, 2009 5:59 AM    Report this comment

It wouldn't surprize me a bit to discover that BO's kids were on board and it was nothing more than $300,000 pleasure flight at our expense in "his" new plane. Photo-flight my foot. If it was a photo flight, why haven't they produced the photographer and the pictures.

What we have here is an example of The Audacity of (the) Dope.

Posted by: Jon Baker | April 30, 2009 6:47 AM    Report this comment

The White House is unfamiliar with photoshop?

Posted by: Daniel Pace | April 30, 2009 7:01 AM    Report this comment

Oh for crying out loud. Take a pill and lie down then worry about something that matters. You're just a big fat crybaby!

Posted by: Dennis Moyes | April 30, 2009 7:59 AM    Report this comment

Let us not forget the FAA/TSA and all the other "I'm from the Government and here to help you" types are the ones that created the Washington Flight Restricted Zone because of the threat posed by a wayward Cessna 150 commanded by a Student Pilot. They have such concern for what happens overhead the Capitol but didn't give a whit about the people of New York City. It is a trite old line, but stack this stunt against yelling "FIRE" in a crowded theater. The issue is creating a panic and the ensueing situation. There have been plenty of stories about people experiencing post-traumatic stress episodes after seeing/hearing a large jet fly very low over the City. Hey, I do feel for you New York - I still get a lump in my throat when I see Firefighters run toward a burning building. You know, I never really did appreciate their dedication! As to whether or not the president knew in advance about the photo flight...who cares? Obviously he didn't and would not have cared had he known. Clearly his tone indicates that he wants each of us to know he controls the military. Keep in mind his administration's recent DHS memo about radicals!

TO JON BAKER - The Audacity of (the) Dope. I like that one!

Posted by: Gregg Hendry | April 30, 2009 8:57 AM    Report this comment

People lighten up. It was an escorted aircraft by two F-16's flying slow over New York. The aircrew needed proficiency flying and that is important so don't think about the cost. One has to fly to keep aircrew skills and Crew honed and current. The F-16 as well got currency time which is important. The mission was sensitive because some nut could have taken shots at the aircraft thus the secrecy. The White House flight operations staff used to be a senior military officer, the current one is a Political appointment, that is the problem about the insensitive decision to approve the flight. Any person of intellect could have recognized the aircraft even from 1000 feet.

Posted by: Jim Bruchas | April 30, 2009 9:09 AM    Report this comment

Paul Bertorelli's article was on the mark and well written. I have read 90% of the comments posted and so far Mike Thompson wins first prize. I liked his accurate evaluation of the operation.

Posted by: Jack Vines Vines | April 30, 2009 10:03 AM    Report this comment

I think the whole thing is a sad commentary, not only on the limits to which people have to go to score a point for themselves, but why they feel they need to. The creator of this act was driven for some reason to follow up on a playful concept with adult and political machinations, without the buffering of an appreciation for the fear and paranoia that has affected all Americans since we realized that our safety can be and has been broached. The video even a day later was chilling.

Wouldn't a true PR person have informed the public of our Government's providing a unique photo op well in advance to prepare people with digital cameras, great places to stand, vendors, Am Flags and the like? Yeah, this whole reaks of something an adolescent with a blank check would do to impress his girlfriend. And that punk is foamainag the halls of our administration.

Oh, this would be cool....How about a bunch of armed Marines patachuting into a basebalal game unannounced sometime. Bitchin"!!

Posted by: Jim Cavanagh | April 30, 2009 10:05 AM    Report this comment

There are 2 different flavors of anal orifices posting here: those who think Obama is a reincarnation of Jebus and can do no wrong...a lot of people believe that because Obama is black. The other kinds are those who hate him and think he does only evil...because he is black. A pox on both your houses.

Posted by: Karl Schneider | April 30, 2009 10:05 AM    Report this comment

Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that The Pres. always refers to "I" have done and not what my administration has done. So maybe he authorized the flight for the photo op

Posted by: Bob Shuster | April 30, 2009 11:59 AM    Report this comment

The cost standpoint of the flight to me is not THAT big a deal as the pilots need training anyway. I did my private pilot training at VKX about 5 miles from Andrews and saw the VC-25 go on training flight a lot.

But to keep this photoshoot FOUO or Secret doesn't make any since. There was no VIP on board, it was protected by fighter, and I'm sure both aircraft have numerous active counter measures that could have defeated any ground based threat. There should have been a notification to the public in advanced so people wouldn't freak out.

This is a case of the administration begging for forgiveness rather than ask for permission. A very poor decision on Louis Caldera's part. He should have known better as a former Secretary of the Army.

Posted by: Bryan Bogle | April 30, 2009 12:01 PM    Report this comment

My thoughts? It seems to me that the BHO Administration is taking every opportunity to Foment Fear in the American people rather than fostering Hope. Wasn't Hope the campaign promise? And there's the oath of office don't even get me started there.

Posted by: Sam Andrews | April 30, 2009 12:18 PM    Report this comment

Let's backup several months or years and assume that President Bush and crew had done this stunt. Can you even come close to imagining what the media would have done with this story....?? They would have directly blamed Bush,"..the responsibility stops here" (oops, the new President uttered those words...)and ran with that story until hell froze over... However, BO gets a pass from the media, and he is praised with his answer, appoint a gov. (tax payer) paid investigtor. I just don't get it....!!

Posted by: Unknown | April 30, 2009 12:35 PM    Report this comment

I recently attended a brief about the ICAO/FAA Safety Mangement System. I like the concept because it attempts to address human error in an effective and compassionate way. It also emphasizes improvements to safety systems through teamwork rather than a witch-hunting "heads roll" mentality.

Safety and security are linked in many ways because they both require honest and cool-headed application of logical cause-and-effect analysis and risk management techniques. This is not to say that individuals should not be held responsible, but I think SMS empasizes positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement. Rather than attempting to allocate blame upon individuals and taking the offenders out and shooting them, might we not all do better by trying to learn about the system that allowed a set of individuals do something really stupid, and find a way to improve it so we can reduce the number of bad outcomes rather than add more insult to injury?

Posted by: Dave Guerrieri | April 30, 2009 12:58 PM    Report this comment

Folks, people don't wake up in the morning and say "I think I'll try to really screw this up." People do make bad decisions, but that does not automatically dictate that they should be fired. It means they need some help learning how to make better decisions. People who react with the knee-jerk "heads should roll" response are still living in the dark ages, and probably do not have much experience trying to run a sustainable, productive and profitable flying operation in this century. I sincerely hope this tragic incident will motivate at least some of the folks who read this forum to think about their organizations, their role within them, and how they might consider SMS techniques to keep us all safe and secure.

The silver lining: at least no one died! And the plane landed safely to fly another day, hopefully next time with a little better flight planning and a little less notoriety. That's what matters in my book. I'll be happy if I can live to be an "old" pilot. I've been a "bold" pilot sometimes in the past, but I think I'm over that now.

Posted by: Dave Guerrieri | April 30, 2009 12:58 PM    Report this comment

Reply to posted by [noname]: If this would have happend during bushey, then I'm pretty sure there would have been a public announcement and some sort of banner on the statue declaring something like "Let Freedom Reign..."

Posted by: dan devillers | April 30, 2009 1:04 PM    Report this comment

My favorite movie quote is from "Apollo 13" (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112384/quotes). Gene Kranz: Let's look at this thing from a... um, from a standpoint of status. What do we got on the spacecraft that's good?

What that says to me is that there is no use getting mired in the negativity and political B.S. You guys must have better things to do. Let's look at what is good at the FAA and NextGen and build upon it so we can fly more and B.S. less. I personally would rather be flying than B.S.'ing on a AvWeb Forum. Wouldn't you?

Accentuate the positive. Trouble is, that usually requires good honest hard work. Ranting and blaming spouting off is so much easier.

Look forward rather than backward. Who cares about the shoulda, coulda, woulda? What can be done to keep people from doing stupid things in the future?

That said, I'm not sure at all what this incident really teaches us. Maybe that we need a better way to disseminate information freely and provide a subcription to a digital alerting system. We certainly have the technology to do it. IMHO, it seems that keeping secrets tends to cause more trouble than letting people use information at their discretion. Is there some way to keep the sensitive information out of the hands of guys on "watch lists"?

Posted by: Dave Guerrieri | April 30, 2009 1:50 PM    Report this comment

I also have to admit that, properly planned, doing bold things, and pulling them off without a hitch, does give you the confidence to build upon those successes. What bold things should the FAA do to keep our skies free and fun?

My final thought: practice makes perfect. That is the thesis of "Outliers" (http://www.amazon.com/Outliers-Story-Success-Malcolm-Gladwell/dp/0316017922). You have to make mistakes to learn. Don't fire those guys. They are much better qualified now! They probably won't do THAT again.

Posted by: Dave Guerrieri | April 30, 2009 1:54 PM    Report this comment

I am totally disgusted. What are we now, a bunch of mice that run for cover when they see a shadow on the ground ?

Did some terrorists use a few airliners to destroy some buildings ? Yes, they did. Does this make everything in the sky to be feared ? I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that question.

Terrorists taking over an airliner isn't very easy. I have to ask, what's the chances for them to take over one of the AF1 aircraft ? So now when one of our nations icons flys over another national icon, for some pictures to be used in service of our national image, escorted by USAF aircraft, can any REASONABLE person be afraid ? I'd think not. I guess that leaves mindless mice, fleeing anything and everything. Pitiful!

Posted by: David Froble | April 30, 2009 2:34 PM    Report this comment

Thank you, Dave Guerrieri for putting some rational thinking into this forum. It seems every forum on-line -- from news to entertainment sites and, yes even to eBay -- degenerates into name-calling and hate speech after only three or four exchanges by posters, I shouldn't have been surprised that the same thing happened here.

Posted by: Jim Fisher | April 30, 2009 2:37 PM    Report this comment

This is just another example of the continuing Washington arrogance and the constant "you shall be free to do as we say". This from the same group that is pretty much destroying the only industry left in this country (aviation) where the product is made here, used here, surviced here, and exported from here. And the response from the president? "It was a mistake and it will not happen again" Ya think? How about the other mistakes like the Washington ADIZ/SFRA, TSA, DHS, And a TRF on every street corner and over every one horse town in the country. And on top of everything else they have the bXXls to send the taxpayer the bill.

Posted by: Al Dyer | April 30, 2009 2:48 PM    Report this comment

How about a Government computer login that goes along with your driver's license? You can use it to subscribe to public information and alerts. However, if you are on a "watch list", you aren't given sensitive information. I would assume most people would not be on "watch lists" so only a few suspects would be caught uninformed and run for cover when the plane flies over.

The Government U.S. Citizen login would also allow you to have access to source code of Government-funded software, since it has long been my belief that any software developed for the Government should be property of its citizens and available for us to build upon in our own software projects if we wish. However, I'm not sure we should give that software away to foreign non-citizens who didn't pay for it by paying U.S. taxes.

That would be bold. Would it work? How can you tell good guys from bad guys? Isn't that what the court system is for? Would there be a hearing for people who think they shouldn't be on a "watch list"? Would we have National legal care to go along with our National health care?

Posted by: Dave Guerrieri | April 30, 2009 2:50 PM    Report this comment

Dave Guerrieri makes an excellent, constructive point. We should learn about the system and find a way to improve it. Unfortunately government doesn’t do that when a GA pilot blunders into an ADIZ.

Government of, by, and for the people, has gradually gone out of style. Equal protection under the law now only applies to special groups, i.e. it’s now OK to violate the 4th amendment rights of airline pax as long as we violate them equally. The Supreme Court has arrogantly ruled that the government need not obey the rules it creates for the rest of us (e.g. FORGA v FAA). This VC-25 PR fiasco is not political. We got the government we deserve, because most voting Americans were so terribly ignorant of fundamental similarities in the 2 biggest parties. The vast majority of media (except AVWEB) actively suppressed the truth about alternatives available to voters (notably the Constitution and Libertarian parties).

I’d like to see Louis Caldera put in shackles, under bright lights, and interrogated at gunpoint like any GA pilot would be treated, had he/she flown a similar A/C on a similar profile. Even if this happened, it wouldn’t solve our country’s most serious problem. Government is completely out of control, and unless we stop looking to the same 2 corrupt political parties for solutions, our country will soon be no more free than North Korea.

The solutions lie within each of us. Why are so few of us writing our elected officials to express our outrage?

Posted by: Bruce Liddel | April 30, 2009 3:14 PM    Report this comment

We do need to re-invent Government. That is for sure. The way to do that is to stop the "us" and "them" mentality. The Government is "we", so we need to find a way to allow all of us to participate. We need to hear all of the ideas and sift out the good ones and implement them as a joint effort between pilots and regulators. AvWeb is a great place to voice those ideas for a start, but there also needs to be a more formal mechanism. Maybe a FAA or NASA-sponsored site? How does one go beyond ranting and begin to come up with solutions? I'm afraid our elected officials won't be able to do much to help here. We need to work directly with the agencies, most likley through NextGen and the NextGen Institute. Here's a link for more information: http://www.jpdo.gov/

Posted by: Dave Guerrieri | April 30, 2009 3:28 PM    Report this comment

Rereading all of this avalanche of comments over a trivial incident is disappointing. It is astonishing that a group of men (interesting, no women contributors)who boast of their independence of mind so easily turn into a gang of screeching children, happily propagate demonstrable lies and distortions, and then just settle into steady contempt. I would have expected better from fellow pilots, but obviously am wrong.

Paul, do us all a favor and steer clear of political rants in the future. You are pissing into the tent, and it's not pleasant.

Posted by: nicholas budd | May 1, 2009 3:40 AM    Report this comment

I don't blame Paul either because it is good to think about this stuff, and, unfortunately, rant sells. When we citizens all grow up a little, guys like Paul can tone it down a little and we might still be motivated to participate and contribute. But for now, unless someone is OUTRAGED, they don't generally care about much. We get from the media what we ask for. I'm glad Nicholas Budd is asking for something better. I sincerely hope the Government will soon be able to listen better to those with intellegent solutions. I am working as hard as I can to make it happen, but these things take time. There are a lot of great ideas out there to be heard so how do we find a way to hear the best ones that will actually work? Once we have a critical mass of folks who think that's the way to go, how do we move seamlessly to the new system reliably? I'd say the FAA is doing a pretty damn good job considering what they're up against and what is at stake. We are extremely fortunate to have what we have. Thank God for all the pilots before us who have bequeathed us such freedom and sense of responsibility.

Posted by: Dave Guerrieri | May 1, 2009 9:32 AM    Report this comment

Nicholas Budd, there is more than one Paul in this message string. Please be sure to check where you are aiming and that your own shoes are out of the way.

Posted by: PAUL STENGER | May 1, 2009 9:41 AM    Report this comment

Correct me, if I am wrong, but could this "Glamour Shot" of Air Force One not have been accomplished by ONE of the more creative areas of the government with PHOTO SHOP? For much less cost than $300,000?

Posted by: Don Donovan | May 1, 2009 11:22 AM    Report this comment

Sentiment: appropriate. Thinly veiled rants aimed at the current administration based on political beliefs: belong in another blog outside of AvWeb. I continue to hope that AvWeb can bring the reins in on its bloggers and remind them that this is an AVIATION blog, not a political blog. This blog has no place in AvWeb. The real story is in no way related to aviation.

Posted by: Donald Harper | May 2, 2009 8:25 AM    Report this comment

Agree with Donald Harper.

Posted by: Bob Shuster | May 2, 2009 12:37 PM    Report this comment

The obvious reason the flyover was not announced is because officials were fearful terrorists would take the opportunity to shoot the 747 out of the sky. The lunacy is that said officials whom we trust to tun our great country choose to live in such parinoia.

Posted by: Bob Newman | May 2, 2009 5:02 PM    Report this comment

I think the F.A.A. has done a good job of helping destroy the aviation job industry in the United States of America at taxpayers expense, by flying to places such as Mexico to help set up F.A.A. Approved Repair Facilities so our airliners can get their heavy checks done by cheap labor. Are we really saving on airfares? Don't forget about the TSA monkeys that were going around at night and climbing up on and damaging pitot-tubes on commuter aircraft just to prove someone could break into an airplane to justify a police state in an already fear-based society. The Regulators are the ones who need to be Regulated. "We The Sheep"

Posted by: Clinton Lancaster | May 2, 2009 10:49 PM    Report this comment

If Obama had a brain he'd throw this dufus on the White House staff to the wolves and that would be the end of it. That's not how its going to work out. Instead they'll hope the public forgets in two weeks. They won't.

Posted by: Christopher Marks | May 3, 2009 8:13 PM    Report this comment

It was a poor decision made with some likely good intentions. That said, why all the stupid "secrecy". What is the United States government and it's employees so scared of ?

As an aircraft photographer who is watching my rights to take pictures of aircraft is being taken away more and more each day, I just cannot even comprehend it all.

What is next: "where are your papers", "confiscate the camera", "the sky is not open public space".

I remember being born in a Republic, but am now living in the face of a Socialist government.....yeah, I do think we should all be worried...a lot worried in fact.

Posted by: John Little | May 5, 2009 12:37 AM    Report this comment

The White House dismissing it as a "photo mission" is about as stupid as it gets. What would happen if someone posed with an AK-47 in an airport terminal just to take an interesting photo? Would TSA accept a "photo shoot" as a valid reason and just let it go?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | May 6, 2009 8:44 AM    Report this comment

I for one would enjoy seeing the presidential B-747 escorted by two x F-16s flying over my city at low-altitude. As the old saying goes, "Jet noise -- the sound of freedom."

People should feel proud when they see Air Force jet fighters and the president' airplane fly over -- not running around the streets scared.

If people are so unaware they can't recognize Air Force One when it flies over, I pity them.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | May 8, 2009 12:31 PM    Report this comment

Well, what do you know? Louis Caldera is allowed to resign. No enhanced interrogation, but at least he's out. I hereby acknowledge both my technically erroneous prediction and the good news!

Gary D. Won't you admit that the TSA could postulate that any terrorist could easily paint a 747 to look like the president's VC-25? If we are supposed to be so afraid of terrorists that we cannot distinguish between the threat of airliners crashing into buildings and the threat of model airplanes and ultralights crashing into buildings, then we certainly can't be expected to distinguish between a 747 painted to look like Air Fore one and the genuine article. Besides, who is to say that an Air Force VC-25 could never be hijacked?

How can you pity anyone that dutifully becomes as afraid as the government instructs us to be, and then be proud of the government that instructs us to be so fearful? Isn't that internally inconsistent?

Posted by: Bruce Liddel | May 11, 2009 8:21 AM    Report this comment

Painting a B-747 to look like Air Force One and then arranging for a pair of Air Force F-16s as an armed fighter escort would be quite a trick, and is so unlikely, it would nigh on be impossible.

A VC-25 being highjacked from the 89th MAW, Special Missions Group -- while not impossible -- is so unlikely as to not be worth contemplating.

I would be proud to see the President's airplane fly over my city at low altitude escorted by two Air Force jet fighters, and would certainly not run around in a panic.

I agree it would have been nice for the DoD to give New Yorkers a "heads up" on such a nice day so they could have felt proud too when they saw the President's plane escorted over their city by two American fighter pilots.

Posted by: Gary Dikkers | May 11, 2009 2:52 PM    Report this comment

I guess I am in the group that wants to say "get over it."

Having seen the coverage and had to deal with the after shocks of the 9/11 incident and the security put in place afterward, I am not afraid of aircraft overhead. I am more afraid of things done in the interst of my security. How many ordinary people have been inconvenienced versus how many real terrorists have been caught. (Not the odd drunk-flight obstructor classified as a terrorist.)

I would think a community that has a lot of pilots would be more skeptical of complaints about scaring the citizens of NY, and more in favor of freedom of flight.

Posted by: Dave Lamb | May 12, 2009 3:12 PM    Report this comment

"Get over it" is asking a bit much during an Orange Alert status. Either people are SUPPOSED to be on high alert or we're not. They can't have it both ways!

Posted by: Mark Fraser | May 12, 2009 3:23 PM    Report this comment

"Orange Alert Status"?? I could care less whether the government declares it to be orange, red, green, or chartreuse. This government wants to micromanage the way we think and feel, and keep us constantly off balance in a state of fear, dependent upon their omnipotent power for protection. If there is one thing that we should have learned in the aftermath of 9/11, is that there is a radical element in the world that hates our guts, and is hell bent on our destruction. Making nice to the rest of the world is not going to change that fact. The next attack will probably occur in a manner that we never expect at a time that we will never anticipate. Orange alert status? Should I sleep with one eye open, and looking constantly towards the sky in a state of fear? Sorry for the rant. It's just that the DHS color alert system would be funny if it were not so pathetic. I'm not cynical; not much.

Posted by: Dennis Crenshaw | May 12, 2009 8:10 PM    Report this comment

So, do you think they were at least making position reports on the Hudson River CTAF? Somehow I doubt it.

Posted by: Michael Friedman | May 13, 2009 2:55 PM    Report this comment

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