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RAF pilot is to become first non-American to fly Air Force One

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RAF pilot is to become first non-American to fly Air Force One

Old 10th Nov 2020, 11:56
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Originally Posted by Deltasierra010 View Post
Is it really credible that an RAF pilot who would not be type rated for a 747, let alone experienced, be allowed to even be 1st officer on Airforce One, whereas seconded as a pilot of a C17 is believable.
The original article (if to be believed!) stated a 'Wing Commander'...would a Wing Commander really be expected to go as a C17 pilot or co etc?....I could understand maybe a Squadron Leader.
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Old 10th Nov 2020, 13:29
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Originally Posted by Mechta View Post
Biden was said to be joking when he said this. If he wasn't, he may prefer not to have an RAF pilot flying him:

Joe Biden: "I'm Irish"

On the flip side, he beat even Ronald Reagan to public support of the UK over the Falklands. He put a resolution down in the Senate calling on the administration to openly state it would support the UK even as Jeanne Kirkpatrick was busily attempting to secure a position of neutrality. Biden was unaware that Cap Weinberger was privately running his own foreign policy, supplying fuel and offering the USS Eisenhower on loan to the RN, of course...
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Old 10th Nov 2020, 15:55
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Originally Posted by BVRAAM View Post
There are not many 747's knocking about in the USAF inventory. In fact, there are 6 - 2x VC-25's and 4x E-4, so I wonder just how experienced the Presidential aircrew are before flying the President?
A former colleague who flew right seat on the VC-25A says that he came from the USAF C-130 community.

Originally Posted by BVRAAM View Post
An E-4 follows the President wherever he goes, its landing location is always classified until it arrives on the tarmac and kept away from the VC-25/C-32. It proved its worth in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
This is simply not true in my observation. An E-4 is always on alert but domestically at least, I don't see it following AF1. Can you provide a source or cite for this claim? There are similar oft-repeated urban legends about how the President and Vice President never ride on the same aircraft and the President only travels on four-engine planes.

Here's a typical news item about the E-4s following AF1 in a Spokane, Washington newspaper. But, they admit that AF1 is probably nowhere around.

The planes are stationed near Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, but travel a lot. They follow around Air Force One wherever the president goes.

So is Donald Trump here? Probably not. The 44th G7 Summit is taking place this weekend in La Malbaie, Quebec, and Trump is attending. Then, on Tuesday, he’s scheduled to meet with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, in Singapore.
https://www.spokesman.com/stories/20...-arrives-at-f/

How did the E-4 prove its worth after the 9/11 attacks? There was an annual GLOBAL GUARDIAN (not VALIANT GUARDIAN as some sources say) exercise in progress and I think all four E-4s were airborne or on alert that morning.

The E-4Bs are usually easy to track, CLUB 22 did a brief stop at Seymour Johnson AFB a few minutes ago and is southbound. They took off this morning from Wright-Patterson AFB. They are scheduled to do the periodic POTUS aircraft swap drill today where they meet up with AF1 and board POTUS on the ramp. Or, so it is claimed on social media.


Last edited by Airbubba; 10th Nov 2020 at 18:54.
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Old 10th Nov 2020, 16:04
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Originally Posted by 622 View Post
The original article (if to be believed!) stated a 'Wing Commander'...would a Wing Commander really be expected to go as a C17 pilot or co etc?....I could understand maybe a Squadron Leader.
This may be a sign of the increasingly wide gap between the UK and other nations in terms of senior officers’ flying duties. It is normal for USAF squadrons to have two flying OF4s (the boss and the DO or ‘boss-in-waiting’), for USAF wing HQs to have a couple more (STANEVAL and the deputy wing boss), and for the OF5 and even 1* commanders to be in regular flying practice - maybe even role qualified (IIRC, AF1 was captained by a full-bird colonel when taking GWB to safety on 9/11). So I can well imagine a RAF wg cdr being employed in a USAF flying role, possibly overborne, but it is much less unusual to see fliers of that rank over there. The lucky so-and-so...

Coming back the other way, in the early 2000s there was a USAF lt col WSO filling a sqn ldr position on a GR4 squadron, and I remember thinking that that would be a most enjoyable way to earn a living!
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Old 10th Nov 2020, 19:56
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My one experience on the VC25 was at SEATAC during the 2nd Obama administrtion. At the time I was told that the VC32 had landed over in Spokane (Fairchild AFB). It's unlikely that the 2nd VC25 would be following behind every flight of AF1 simply because one of these aircraft is frequently out of service for various maintenance issues. Now that Boeing, and the USAF have gotten the aux fuel tank (SFAR88), issues behind them, the VC32 does a pretty good job of covering for the backup aircraft.
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Old 10th Nov 2020, 23:42
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Originally Posted by Airbubba View Post
A former colleague who flew right seat on the VC-25A says that he came from the USAF C-130 community.



This is simply not true in my observation. An E-4 is always on alert but domestically at least, I don't see it following AF1. Can you provide a source or cite for this claim? There are similar oft-repeated urban legends about how the President and Vice President never ride on the same aircraft and the President only travels on four-engine planes.

Here's a typical news item about the E-4s following AF1 in a Spokane, Washington newspaper. But, they admit that AF1 is probably nowhere around.



https://www.spokesman.com/stories/20...-arrives-at-f/

How did the E-4 prove its worth after the 9/11 attacks? There was an annual GLOBAL GUARDIAN (not VALIANT GUARDIAN as some sources say) exercise in progress and I think all four E-4s were airborne or on alert that morning.
Sorry, I forgot to include in my post for overseas trips. Of course there'd be no need for domestic travel.

I am also fairly certain that GWB spent a lot of time in an E-4 when everything was going on and he was trying to get things figured out. I don't recall that huge amount of time being airborne, being exclusively in the VC-25.
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Old 10th Nov 2020, 23:45
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Originally Posted by Easy Street View Post
This may be a sign of the increasingly wide gap between the UK and other nations in terms of senior officers’ flying duties. It is normal for USAF squadrons to have two flying OF4s (the boss and the DO or ‘boss-in-waiting’), for USAF wing HQs to have a couple more (STANEVAL and the deputy wing boss), and for the OF5 and even 1* commanders to be in regular flying practice - maybe even role qualified (IIRC, AF1 was captained by a full-bird colonel when taking GWB to safety on 9/11). So I can well imagine a RAF wg cdr being employed in a USAF flying role, possibly overborne, but it is much less unusual to see fliers of that rank over there. The lucky so-and-so...

Coming back the other way, in the early 2000s there was a USAF lt col WSO filling a sqn ldr position on a GR4 squadron, and I remember thinking that that would be a most enjoyable way to earn a living!
I was under the impression that the Vice WG/CC is typically a full bird Colonel, as are Group Commanders.

Yes, President George W. Bush's Captain was Col. (ret) Mark Tillman.

This podcast with him is worth listening to in the car tomorrow- 45 minutes.

https://inspire.eaa.org/podcast/col-...rce-one-pilot/
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Old 11th Nov 2020, 00:09
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The RAF wing commander isn't ever going to be the captain of any aircraft in use as Air Force One - perhaps on the roster as a reserve co-pilot but I doubt that as well - far more likely he might be on flying duties with other aircraft in the 89th Airlift Wing fleet.

The captain of Air Force One - The Presidential Pilot - is a colonel (OF-5) post and has been ever since 1948 as the responsibilities go way beyond being the captain when flying the aircraft - as can be seen in this Nat Geo documentary from Col Tillman's era.

List of Presidential Pilots (minus the current one) - Presidents Truman > Obama:

https://www.iloveairforceone.com/history/pilots/

Nat Geo documentary:

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Old 11th Nov 2020, 00:57
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Originally Posted by BVRAAM View Post
I am also fairly certain that GWB spent a lot of time in an E-4 when everything was going on and he was trying to get things figured out. I don't recall that huge amount of time being airborne, being exclusively in the VC-25.
I don't believe President Bush was in an E-4 at all anytime after the 9-11 attacks. Do you have a source that claims otherwise? Thanks.

Here's a 2017 Garrett Graff article that mentions the E-4s and also the low profile Continuity of Government aircraft which at the time was a C-20 Gulfstream. These days it appears to always be a C-32A 757 (09-0015, 09-0016 or 09-0017) with the callsign SAM 18. It leaves ADW an hour or two before AF1 and usually gets back after AF1 and the backup plane SAM 45.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/st...r-force-215091

From the article:

But at first glance, none of that was related at all to the $40 million Gulfstream that landed in Stuttgart—an hour’s flight away from Dresden—a day ahead of Obama’s Germany visit. The white unmarked jet blended in among the anonymous luxury jets that fill many major airports around the world—yet it had no apparent business in Stuttgart, and its crew hung close to the plane. It was in Germany only for a day and then promptly took off around the time the president departed Germany for the next leg of his trip, to France. As Air Force One went to Caen, the Gulfstream flew across the English Channel to the UK’s Mildenhall Air Force Base, where it waited in a hangar just an hour’s flight away from Obama’s visit to the beaches of Normandy for the anniversary of D-Day on June 6. Then the Gulfstream flew back to Andrews Air Force Base in the United States. On no leg of the trip did the plane appear to have any purpose whatsoever. Only someone who looked up its tail number, 60403, would discover its secret.

The C-20C in flight. | Photo by Lutz Lehmann

The Gulfstream was the Air Force’s plane 86-0403, one of three special presidential aircraft long tasked with evacuating the president in an emergency and preserving the so-called National Command Authorities, the officials with authority to launch nuclear weapons. Known as C-20Cs, the planes don’t really officially exist. But for years, they have gone nearly everywhere the president travels, paralleling presidential trips, serving as his chameleons, blending in anonymously at airports close by presidential visits—but never at the same airport where Air Force One itself is landing. During one of Bush’s trips to Homestead Air Force Base in Miami in 2001, for example, a C-20C shadowed the trip, standing by at Patrick Air Force Base near Cape Canaveral.

...The main purpose of the covert Gulfstreams, however—and the reason for their secrecy—is ensuring that the president maintains control of the nation’s nuclear weapons and can be safely evacuated in an emergency, particularly if the primary Air Force One is disabled or attacked or if the president can’t make it back to the airport where Air Force One was located. While the E-4B Nightwatch planes are meant to be long-term command centers, the C-20 aircraft—much smaller and able to carry far fewer passenger than a 747—are not meant as a long-term solution. Instead, their goal is to get the president to one of the roughly dozen major ground command posts scattered around the country from which he could securely lead the nation into war. In fact, this plan was nearly activated on September 11, 2001; after Bush took off from Florida, his staff’s original plan, before they realized the scope of the attacks that morning, had been to fly Air Force One to an airport near the capital—like Norfolk, Virginia—where he could be transferred to a small jet like the C-20 and brought either back to D.C. or to an emergency command post.

The ability of the C-20s to land on a runway just half the length required for a 747 means that they’re agile enough to use at nearly any airport in the world—which could be very useful if you were suddenly going to be trying to hide a president somewhere in the United States.

Specifically, if you’re trying to hide a president at Mount Weather in Virginia.

Last edited by Airbubba; 11th Nov 2020 at 01:56.
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Old 11th Nov 2020, 02:15
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Having compared being flown by an RAF pilot, rather than a USAF pilot, POTUS will probably insist that ALL his pilots are RAF!
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Old 11th Nov 2020, 02:28
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Originally Posted by BVRAAM View Post
This podcast with him is worth listening to in the car tomorrow- 45 minutes.

https://inspire.eaa.org/podcast/col-...rce-one-pilot/
Thanks again. Colonel Tillman also has several passages of narrative in The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett Graff (2019).

In it he says he took AF1 up to FL450 and later Mach .94. Isn't this a little more that the civilian limits for a B-742?

And I mentioned what I believe to be a few AF1 urban legends repeated in the media. For example, the claim that the President and Vice President never ride on the same aircraft.

Here's another one that I've run across claiming that AF1 has some special power boost or something. Anybody know what this is if it really exists?

From the 2017 Graff article linked above:

The special presidential evacuation procedures begin with the primary Air Force One planes themselves: On September 11, 2001, as President George W. Bush raced into the air following his school appearance in Sarasota, Florida, the crew activated a secret, classified capability aboard the 747 that speeds emergency launches, rocketing the plane into the sky at what seemed to passengers and observers like an impossibly steep pitch to minimize its exposure to any lurking surface-to-air missiles. “There are only two 747s in the world that can take off like that,” one of the flight stewards said that day, leaning over to a congressman who was aboard. “And they’re both called Air Force One.”
Is it some best angle flap setting that a standard B-742 doesn't have? Or a war emergency power reserve setting on the CF-6 motors?

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Old 11th Nov 2020, 03:19
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Probably light weight (little fuel). Had what seemed like a spirited take off in a QF 747 fueled for a 400nm trip, deck angle a lot higher than the previous trans Pacific take off, straight up FL410 like a home sick angel.
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Old 11th Nov 2020, 03:23
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My understanding is that they're looking to the Brits for someone with a FHSH rating for a possible mission on 20 Jan.
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Old 11th Nov 2020, 03:31
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
Probably light weight (little fuel). Had what seemed like a spirited take off in a QF 747 fueled for a 400nm trip, deck angle a lot higher than the previous trans Pacific take off, straight up FL410 like a home sick angel.
That's what makes me a little skeptical of the claim: “There are only two 747s in the world that can take off like that,” one of the flight stewards said that day, leaning over to a congressman who was aboard. “And they’re both called Air Force One.” A little journalistic license perhaps?

I'm thinking I've read something similar years ago in one of the AF1 coffee table picture books.
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Old 12th Nov 2020, 00:30
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Agree journalistic license, after al, the 747 is used to heft weight in the airline business, so rare to see one take off at light weight. I'm told a light weight emergency descent is a thing to behold as well, extreme nose down with no weight assisting gravity.
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Old 12th Nov 2020, 01:46
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Is it some best angle flap setting that a standard B-742 doesn't have? Or a war emergency power reserve setting on the CF-6 motors?
I can say with some authority that there is nothing special about the CF6-80C2 engines or the engine ratings on AF1. They are pretty much your stock standard CF6-80C2B1 engines (granted, probably maintained to a somewhat higher standard than most). About all you can do is turn off the (supervisory) PMCs and firewall the throttles - that'll give you some overboost, but only about 2% N1 above the max rating (there is a limiter in the hydromechanical control that prevents any more than that) (the B1 rating is basically the same as the B4 (56k) rating on the 767).

That being said, I've been on some flight tests where we were real light, and did max rated takeoffs (both 747s and 767s) - the climb rate is impressive indeed.

I believe the 747-200 was certified to 45k although I wouldn't swear to it - the 747-8 was 'only' certified to 43k (due to a change in the regulations regarding depressurization as I understand it). I don't remember the certified VMO for the civilian 747s, but I know that Boeing flight test pilots did take it to over 0.97 (I looked at data in the 0.98-0.99 range in a shallow dive).

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Old 12th Nov 2020, 05:50
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For all 747 up to and including the -300 the TCDS says VMO/MMO 375/0.92 (KEAS), max alt 45,100
-400 VMO/MMO 365/0.92 (KCAS) max alt 45,100
-8 VMO/MMO = 365/0.9 (KCAS) max alt 43,100
-8F VMO/MMO = 365/0.9 (KCAS) max alt 42,100
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Old 15th Nov 2020, 00:14
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Originally Posted by RAFEngO74to09 View Post
The captain of Air Force One - The Presidential Pilot - is a colonel (OF-5) post
O-6, but who's counting?
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Old 15th Nov 2020, 00:39
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Originally Posted by flyboyike View Post
O-6, but who's counting?
OF-5 is to O-6 as tom-ah-toe is to tom-ay-toe

Last edited by Easy Street; 15th Nov 2020 at 19:08.
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Old 15th Nov 2020, 17:28
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35 years ago DOD decided that I should be a Field Officer Grade 4 (O-4). This was a little bit bit better than my ex-RAF rank of Flt Lt.
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