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1st And 2nd Ladies Plane Aborted Landing

From a white-knuckled Washington Post:

Plane carrying Michelle Obama aborts landing because of controller error

By Ashley Halsey III, Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A White House plane carrying Michelle Obama came dangerously close to a 200-ton military cargo jet and had to abort its landing at Andrews Air Force Base on Monday as the result of an air traffic controller’s mistake, according to federal officials familiar with the incident.

"Dangerously close" in this case being three miles.

Ultimately, controllers at Andrews feared that the cargo jet was not moving quickly enough to clear the runway in time for the White House plane to land, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak for their agencies.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Tuesday that the first lady was aboard the plane and said that “the aircraft were never in any danger.”

Nitpickers.

The FAA, already dealing with a series of controversies involving controllers sleeping and watching a movie on the job, sent a team of investigators Tuesday to the Warrenton radar control center, where the mistake was made

After all, watching movies or even sleeping on the job – is one thing. That only concerns the little people. But if you put the nation’s First and Second Ladies at risk, you are asking for trouble.

The first lady was returning from a television appearance and other events in New York with Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, and was aboard a Boeing 737 that is part of the presidential fleet when the error occurred on the plane’s final approach to the base…

‘Second Lady’ Mrs. Biden must feel like chopped liver to not even rate a mention until the sixth paragraph of this article. (By the way, why didn’t she take Amtrak?)

The FAA controllers in the tower at Andrews recognized that the massive C-17 and the Obama flight were far too close when the Warrenton controller handed off responsibility for the two aircraft.

They ordered the Obama plane to execute a series of S-turns in an effort to create a safe distance between it and the C-17, federal officials said. When those maneuvers failed to achieve the required distance between the two planes — and the Andrews controllers realized the cargo jet would not have time to get off the runway before the presidential plane arrived — they aborted the landing of the Obama plane and ordered it to circle the base.

A fully loaded C-17 can create such turbulence that the FAA requires other planes to remain at least five miles behind it. The presidential fleet 737 already was far closer than that when the handoff took place from the Potomac Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility in Warrenton…

The FAA manager said the Warrenton controller exhibited “really bad controller technique.”

“Not only did he get them too close, he told the [Andrews controller] that they were farther apart than they were,” he said.

When the handoff occurred, the planes were 3.08 miles apart, radar shows, but the Warrenton controller told the Andrews tower that they were four miles apart. Before handing off, the Warrenton controller warned Obama’s pilot of potential wake turbulence

Still, you would never know that the two airplanes were more than three miles apart from the breathless reports on the network news.

“In the grand scheme of things, events like this happen fairly frequently,” said another federal official who works with the air traffic control system but is not authorized to speak publicly. “Unfortunately, this one involves a presidential plane.”

And, naturally, some people are more equal than others.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, April 20th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

10 Responses to “1st And 2nd Ladies Plane Aborted Landing”

  1. GetBackJack says:

    I saw abort and Michelle in the same sentence and for a moment got giddy.

  2. TerryAnne says:

    Boy, this article really blasts the military, huh? Shame on them for doing their job with their “slow” planes.

    This is stuff that happens everyday. I’ve been forced to circle the flight line on civilian planes numerous times because of flight traffic backups. Guess MyBelle shouldn’t be afforded such inconveniences after a hard day blathering to her media cronies in NYC.

    What exactly is the intention here with the sudden crackdown on ATCs (air traffic controllers)? Are they trying to make them all government employees…which I thought they already technically were? I know there has to be a purpose to their sudden appearance in the media, if none other than because of the WI riots and Reagan’s dealings with the ATC unions back in the 80s. It’s too coincidental to not have a purpose…

    • Right of the People says:

      Got to get them unionized again then all these problems will go away because everyone knows union members do the job much better than non-union members. It’s a well known fact. (sarc off)

      Didn’t anybody warn the ATCs that it was MOOCHELLE’s plane? Don’t they care about the safety of the first “lady”? Heads will roll! What do you want to bet the controller gets suspended or even fired?

  3. proreason says:

    Where are the sleeping ATC’s when you need them?

  4. clifcrds says:

    I know I don’t post here very often BUT WHAT A HOOT! I’ve had about 20 minutes of pure entertainment reading the 1st hundred or so comments on Yahoo’s version of this story – http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110420/ap_on_re_us/us_first_lady_near_collision

    Looks like the varnish on Dear Leader Chairman MaObama and our 1st Czaress is starting to dull. Clearly by all the snarky comments the peasant masses are rebelling and calling the main stream media on this non-story propaganda. I just wonder how long it will be before Yahoo flushes either the comments or the entire story down the memory hole.

    • proreason says:

      gee what a coincidence that critics are coming out of the woodwork at just this point in time?

      Could it be the budget battle? the debt ceiling crisis? the S&P markdown? tpaw’s pending announcement? surely, yahoo commentors are close followers of those political stories.

      or could it be something else that is suddenly releasing people from their fear of criticizing the Antoinette’s? something or somebody who is tuned into the culture in the country? something or somebody that or who is making it cool for people with nagging doubts about what’s happening to our country to speak up?

      What could it be?

    • GetBackJack says:

      “It’s a pretty good rule of thumb that, in Washington, whatever the Establishment is focusing on is a distraction from the real issue.” –columnist Mike Needham

  5. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Quoting Jack Schaefer in “Monte Walsh”, as characterized by Tom Selleck, “You don’t have no idea how little I care.”.

  6. canary says:

    Didn’t the Obamas circling the Statue of Liberty teach them any manner.

    I realize this is very common, but in this elite situation I doubt it was the air-craft controller’s fault.

    “By the way, why didn’t she take Amtrak?” crack me up

  7. crosspatch says:

    Since when did the US taxpayer start funding a “broomstick one” plane for the first lady? She can fly commercial like everyone else.


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