Air Force One

If you thought you saw Air Force One flying over the Seacoast Wednesday morning, you were not imagining it.

Turns out the distinctive blue-and-white presidential aircraft was performing “some routine training” at Pease International Tradeport, according to Sgt. Timothy Huffman from the public affairs office of the New Hampshire Air National Guard’s 157th Refueling Wing, which is stationed there.

Technically, the designation “Air Force One” refers to any aircraft that has the President on board. But the aircraft practicing maneuvers at Pease Wednesday is one of two Boeing 747-200B planes that regularly serve as presidential aircraft, Huffman said.

The big plane’s pilots were practicing “touch and goes,” he said. “They make passes, touch down and take off again,” he explained.

Huffman, a recent transplant to Pease, said after he heard about the plane’s arrival in a text from a colleague, he ran outside, hoping to capture some photos with the fall foliage in the background. But he just caught a glimpse as it left, he said.

“I saw the tail flash through the trees,” he said. “That was the last I saw of them.”

“Maybe next time,” he said.

The Air Force designation for the aircraft is VC-25A, according to the White House website. Decorated with “United States of America,” the American flag, and the presidential seal, the aircraft is capable of refueling mid-air and thus has unlimited range. With sophisticated communications and security equipment on board, it can function as a mobile command center in the event of an attack on the United States.

The plane includes 4,000 square feet of floor space on three levels, including an extensive Presidential suite; a medical suite complete with an operating room; quarters for Secret Service, advisers, and traveling press; and food preparation galleys that can feed up to 100 people at a time.

Air Force One is maintained and operated by the Presidential Airlift Group, part of the White House Military Office.

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Saturday, November 16, 2019