May 10, 2009

The Air Force 1 flight over NYC can't possibly have been made for the purpose of taking that photograph.

Perhaps others are already saying this, and I'm just pointing out the obvious. But here goes.

The official story is: Botched photo op, now fully compensated for by the resignation of Louis Caldera (the director of the White House Military Office):
Caldera submitted his resignation yesterday and to no surprise, it was promptly accepted. The White House wants the memory of this fiasco to fade — and fast....

The White House review of the incident shows that Caldera was informed of the mission but missed numerous chances to stop it from happening, failed to alert senior White House officials about it, nor did he even recognize that the public might have a reaction to seeing a jumbo jet tailed by military aircraft swooping down on the city.
But look at the picture. Why would people going to all this trouble and expense to get a photograph that looked so awful?

Thanks to my commenters on last night's post for forcing me to think about this. First was rhhardin said:
It's not easy to take pictures when you're steering a fighter with your knees.
Presumably, the picture was taken from the cockpit of one of the F16s that flew alongside Air Force 1. Here's what the cockpit looks like. There's no passenger seat. There's no room for a professional photographer. How does it make any sense to do a big photo shoot without a professional photographer?

Peter V. Bella said:
It took this long? Guy should have been fired the next day.
Maybe it took so long because the story is more complicated.

JAL said:
Yeah. If they truly wanted to "update" the photos for PR purposes (??) why not do it *right*. Shooting out of a fighter plane window (while piloting said plane at only 1000' over a densely populated area) and including either a shadow or a portion of the fighter plane (lower right corner) in the picture is $328,000+ worth of amateur photography.

They didn't get our money's worth.

So - who all was IN the big plane?
Maybe the pilot took a photograph, but that can't have been the purpose of the flight. So JAL has the right question: Who was in Air Force 1?

Palladian said:
That's a poorly composed photograph. Positioning Liberty Island below the plane in that manner makes it look like the plane is a shitting bird and that the island is the pile of shit. Also the color is murky and excepting the Statue of Liberty, the scenery is a depressingly industrial swath of New Jersey. And the garbage barges or whatever they are in the harbor don't add any majesty to the photograph. The supergenius Obama kidz couldn't remove those with their mad Photoshop skillz? And what is the white streak in the upper right of the photograph, near the nose of the plane? It looks like reflection from shooting through a window.

This is what we got for $357,012? Classic.
That's a great description of what a crappy photograph it is, but instead of exclaiming over how stupid they were to take such a bad photograph, I think we need to advance to the assumption that the flight cannot have been for photography purposes.

rhhardin said:
In defense of the incompetents, they're not allowed to photoshop anything.
Some military rule?

Charles said:
rhhardin: That photo was photoshopped. It has the distinctive tags "JFIF", "Ducky", and "Adobe" in the header.

They apparently used Photoshop to remove the EXIF information from the file, lest we see that the photo was taken as a souvenir by the pilot with his $150 point-and-shoot.
I don't understand all that tech talk, but I think I want to say: Aha!

Yes, I know. I've moved into conspiracy theory territory. It's not my thing, normally. But this is just staring me in the face, and I feel required to say what I see. The pieces don't fit. I want to know more. The Caldera resignation does not turn the page. Who was in Air Force 1?

(By the way, what are the 9/11 Truthers doing with this story?)

ADDED: An emailer with some experience writes:
A few facts that may be useful:

(1) The F-16 family of aircraft does in fact have two seater trainer versions (however, I haven't a seen a photograph of the F-16s accompanying the 747 that has sufficient clarity to determine if either is a trainer version.

(2) No F-16 pilot can "steer with his knees" as the aircraft is controlled by a sidestick controller that operates via a fly-by-wire system.

(3) The F-16 can be flown on autopilot.

(4) Pilots of large, expensive to operate and maintain military aircraft gain necessary flying hours by piloting smaller, cheaper aircraft such as T-38 trainers.

(5) No military aircraft leaves the ground, anywhere, without those high up on the chain of command knowing about it and authorizing it. This would be so for Air Force One unless the Obama administration allows the aircraft to be treated like a privately owned light aircraft hangered in Uncle Fred's barn.

That being understood, here are reasons why the F-16 is a particularly awful photography platform:

(1) The cockpit in even the trainer version is very tight, with both pilots tightly strapped into seats that recline sharply to assist in dealing with high G forces. This makes manipulating cameras of sufficient quality (required for good photos) and size difficult at best.

(2) The canopy of the F-16 is essentially a one piece, continually curved plexiglas bubble, introducing distortion, light flares, and all manner of other problems into the photography equation. No competent photographer would try to shoot through this kind of medium under these conditions unless they had no choice.

(3) Fighter aircraft, at the low speeds apparent in this situation, are barely above stall speed and subject to significant buffeting. They are not stable photographic platforms. This is true of any light aircraft, particularly when compared with much larger aircraft.

(4) The released photograph is indeed poor in quality in every facet of photography, particularly when one considers framing, background and composition. It looks like the kind of thing a fighter jock might shoot, one handed, with a little digital camera that would fit in a flight suit pocket.

I'm surprised that no one had demanded a list of the crews of all involved aircraft, and the opportunity to interview them absent White House minders. It would also be interesting to learn who the official "photographer" for this mission was and to find out why they were apparently flying in a very poor platform and what kind of training they had (was this person actually a military photographer? Was there, in fact, a qualified photographer on hand?) and equipment they used. One suspects that the story of this mission would be quite different if we could speak with those involved.

AND: Here's what official Air Force photographs actually look like.


SteveR said...

The only thing that makes sense is that some people were on the 747 who were probably being "rewarded" for campaign contributions or whatever. The investigation/resignation just highlights typical bureacratic bullshit, repeated thousands of times a day, but doesn't come close to answeting the real question.


Lem said...

It's only Airforce One when the president is on.

If we are going into the fire swamp at least we should be accurate about what we do know ;)

EnigmatiCore said...

In any administration, there are going to be instances of idiots rewarding campaign benefactors. This may have been more idiotic than most such efforts, but in the grand scheme of things, who cares? The policies and effectiveness of the administration are significantly more important to such an extent that trivialities like this are a mere distraction.

Lem said...

The only thing that makes sense is that some people were on the 747 who were probably being "rewarded" for campaign contributions or whatever.

Isn't that what the Lincoln bedroom is for?

KCFleming said...

Apparently, BHO is finding it harder and harder to find a place to smoke a cigarette.

Lem said...

If there were people other than proscribed there must be a manifest, a record somewhere.

Insurance records. If I was sniffing around I want to look at the food and beverage record.

Charles said...

(the other Charles)

The purpose of the flyover was to get some footage for George Lucas' upcoming movie. I thought everybody knew that!

Paddy O said...

"at least we should be accurate about what we do know"

Accuracy is important, but not when it gets in the way of communication.

Saying "The plane occasionally known as Air Force 1" insists upon the parenthetical "(when the President is on it)".

That's just too complicated. In common parlance (non-Air Force) Air Force 1 is the President's plane(s). No matter who is on it. It's what the plane is built for that gives the name in regular communication.

A politically open-minded Truther might suggest Obama was trying for the same tactic as Bush--causing a 'terrorist' activity to distract and then allow for pursuit of his presidential goals. Only, like a bumbling criminal writing his name on a deposit slip at a bank robbery, he had the conspirators use his own, quite identifiable plane.

You know, someone might think that and so it's worth be debating in academic circles as a possibility. Maybe a book or 100 could be written on topic.

EsoxLucius said...

two years ago i received a postcard with air force one flying over mount rushmore. only now do i realize that, to get that shot, the 747 and two observation planes had to circle western south dakota for hours. air force one pilots, like any other pilot, need to log hours in the air, but do we really need a puplic relations staff of ten for a set of airplanes? the enemy here is ordinary creeping governmental bloat and not any vast conspiracy. and i'm guessing caldera would have been sacked immeadiately if his name had been non hispanic.

Paddy O said...

Maybe Obama was personally out looking for Osama. CIA gave him a tip bin Laden was checking out the Statue of Liberty.

Lem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken Pidcock said...

(By the way, what are the 9/11 Truthers doing with this story?)We don't know, Althouse, because you didn't continue.

Lem said...

People having a party at taxpayers expense is one thing. But to frighten them half to death so you could party?

Now that would be something.

Eric said...

BTW...there are 2-seat variants of the F-16 (B and D models, I think). It could have been a 2-seater with a photog in the back.

Lem said...

If you look at the Mount Rushmore pic you cant help but notice how much better it is.

Maybe the technology is devolving ;)

Big Mike said...

Eric's right. Go here for more information about F-16 fighters than you ever thought you needed to know.

My bet is that SteveR is right, somebody important was getting a chance to see the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline from Air Force 1. Campaign contributor? Political allies?

PatCA said...

I also thought the photo was so bad it couldn't have been professional. If it was a training mission, they would have alerted NYC, right? It obviously was not for photos, or they wouldn't have a fighter pilot taking the pics.

So, I think it was a campaign payoff. A reporter asked for the manifest the day after the flight; has it been produced yet, or is that going down the adoring media's memory hole too?

Mr. Forward said...

Bush got criticized for flying the bin Laden family out of the country after 9/11. Could this be the new administration flying the bin Laden's back in?

Lem said...

Also, why not wait for a better forecast?

Could waiting for better weather possibly conflict with donors schedules?

BTW - If there were donors on the plane they must have told somebody.

This is not something people are going to keep to themselves.

Unless they were told.

Who told? why tell somebody to keep quiet about a plane ride?

The MSM falls asleep again.

I'm Full of Soup said...

Yes the Bin Ladens are frugal so they tend to purchase round-trip tickets.

Eric said...

Liz Trotta was just on FNC talking about this, wondering why nobody in the press is bird-dogging the pax manifest.

Uh, isn't FOX News a member of the press?

Titusshitonyourface said...

I am so outraged I can hardly type.

This is a fiasco.

I just pinched a greasy loaf and the entire time I was so angry about this I could hardly enjoy my loaf.

Thank you.

Titusshitonyourface said...

I hate Barack Obama and because I hate him I am so angry and outraged.

My life is complete now that I have complete and total hate for Barack Obama.

How are you?

I am SUPER, thanks for asking. But I am also outraged.

Titusshitonyourface said...

MOre DTL and Palladian fighting posts please. They are fantastic.

I jerky jerky'd over the last one!

Titusshitonyourface said...

Did you know Obama has mustard on his hamburger.

How elitist.

Who has mustard on their burger.

I am furious.

It's Mother's Day and I should be celebrating but I can't because I am so outraged....because of Obama and Michelle....and democrats in general.

Ron said...

Maybe the bad photo would have had bad prose to go with it: "Lady Liberty's torch is lighting the jet exhaust of the White House to move the economy to the 'afterburner' phase!!!"

Hey maybe the Air Force has "9/11 reenactors"!!!

AlphaLiberal said...

Oh, the military is not allowed to photoshop photos?

Well, they're not allowed to use propaganda techniques on the US population, but they did anyway. And the news networks catapulted the propaganda for them.

The author of that story won a Pulitzer, BTW.

Caldera took responsibility for the flyover and failure to warn locals the same day. The firing happened after the incident report was completed.

Titusshitonyourface said...

Did I mention I am angry?

How could America have voted for this idiot and his angry wife?

Everyone I know who voted for him regrets it. When I go to parties they all say that it was the biggest mistake of their life.

I am pissed.

Titusshitonyourface said...

I love hearing southern republican senators on the tele on Sunday morning.

The accent is so redneck and I love it. It makes me want to squeal like a pig. EEEAAAUUHHHH.

Unknown said...

Taking a serious photo from an F-16 makes no sense because of all of the anti-reflective coatings on the canopy glass. So, the purpose of the trip as a photo op is ridiculous - the photo was may have been taken as a momento for the passenegers. The ONLY question to be asking is who was on the airplane and why were they joyriding on AF1. My understanding is that FOIA requests have been made by Fox News for the planes' manifest.
We'll never see it, but word will leak out - eventually.

AM said...

We need to know the truth! In no way is the white house telling the truth! Of course the liberal media will never get to the bottom of this even if they find the truth.

Stars and Stripes said...

I read it was a film op for George Lucas's film "Red Tails"...this makes sense to me.

Pierre said...

Well I bet it was Obama himself on the plane going for a little joyride. He doesn't give a what he does affects others. After all the United States OWES black folks a do I know? Reverend Wright says so.

Synova said...

Maybe I'm the only one in the world who thinks that the notion of taking new publicity photos is entirely likely and that taking them from fighter jets isn't at all remarkable, having seen too many pictures of MiG pilots with cameras (who presumably have a similar picture of the US pilot with a camera). I'm not alarmed by the expense since they fly AF1 all the time *anyway*, don't they? How is it more expensive to fly in one place than in another? I'm not shocked that someone didn't realize that flying low over New York was a bad idea... if one is not *from* New York the fact that it's obvious in hindsight says nothing about anticipating the problem. And it's not at all hard to imagine that the person who is in charge of security during the mission planning stage (a daily thing) would not insist on normal secrecy, either not realizing or not feeling he or she had authority to change the rules, that flying close over New York required significant pre-publicity to avoid panic.

Really... there's nothing to see here.

Automatic_Wing said...

The idea that it was for the Lucas movie doesn't make sense since you would've needed a third plane to make the shot work.

Greg Toombs said...

The incompetent photograph as shown paints an ugly picture of our government's competence. Political incompetence, too.

We'll get to the cover-up competence issue in due time, I hope.

Automatic_Wing said...

The REAL truth - Rev Wright was flying the plane, laughing maniacially as the terrified whiteys fled in panic.


Chennaul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Titusshitonyourface said...

The liberal media outrages me.

They haven't followed this story close enough.

This came straight from the top but they are protecting Obama.

And Obama has mustard on his burger. That is outrageous.

rc said...

"BTW...there are 2-seat variants of the F-16 (B and D models, I think). It could have been a 2-seater with a photog in the back."

Those F-16s were from the Alabama ANG 187th FW. They only have the 'C' model, which is single seat.

Chennaul said...


Take a look at the site photos under assets-there isn't one mid-flight picture taken as badly as that.

Here I'll spot you and start you off with the E-3 Sentry.

E-3 Sentry Mid Flight Photo-Link.

Notice the differences? Pay attention to detail.

Titusshitonyourface said...

I just spooned the rare clumbers and my hog got a little hard.

thank you.

Titusshitonyourface said...

The Dali Lama is on CNN.

He is a fucking liberal.

Chennaul said...


You're just jealous you were left out of the three way.

It was Palladian, DTL and ZPS.

Plus admit it-you've been sulking because Ann wouldn't make you the flower girl.

alien_mind said...

I agree that the real purpose wasn't a photo-op. I do not believe that anyone would plan such a mission and merely take some low quality snaps from the pilots window. It has the ring of a cover story.

If you read the report, in the planning stages they frequently referred to this mission as "unusual". If keeping updated photos of AF1 was such a routine thing, why would the Air Force and FAA call it "unusual"?

Also missing in the report was any mention of the weather as a factor. They talked like this was a firmly scheduled date, and never did anyone say "weather permitting" or even allude to the fact that weather would have an impact or perhaps even be a reason to cancel.

There has to be more to the story.

Titusshitonyourface said...

The Dali Lama's nonviolence talk is bullshit.

I am pissed.

Chennaul said...

Palladisn is right about the proportion or perspective-it looks like Air Force One-dropped an auqa port-a- potty on New York.

To get a better relation or to better identify the object as the Statue of Liberty you'd have to fly lower than what is depicted in the picture.

Fen said...

Titus: Did you know Obama has mustard on his hamburger. How elitist..

It was dijon mustard, but that wasn't the issue. The issue was why MSNBC felt the need to edit out that part. Perhaps they feared his "normal guy" narrative might come across as elitist.

But then you already knew this. Thats why your here spinning with bullshit parody.

Automatic_Wing said...

The Dali Lama's nonviolence talk is bullshit.

You'll have to admit, it hasn't done much for Tibet...

Fen said...

now fully compensated for by the resignation of Louis Caldera.

Thats right. In this White House, the buck stops at Louis Caldera.

And Obama is unaware of whats going on over the skies of NYC. Nice.

CharlesVegas said...

Maguro, there were three planes.

See, for example, here.

New Charles

Jim Hu said...

Obama is just jerking NY around for supporting Hillary.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NahnCee said...

Titus proving just how obsessive and downright stupid liberals are. I'll bet he's a real comedy star in his junior high school home room.

IF there was nothing to see here as the liberal sheeple posting insist, why hasn't the White House (1) released the manifest, (2) released more than one lousy photograph, (3) provided interview access to the pilots, stewardesses, ground crew involved?

Personally, I think Obama was giving free flying lessons to his Muslim African relatives. Affirmative Action for terrorists, you know.

Fen said...

I'm not shocked that someone didn't realize that flying low over New York was a bad idea... if one is not *from* New York the fact that it's obvious in hindsight says nothing about anticipating the problem..

Only if you've forgotten about 9-11.

Fen said...

Titus proving just how obsessive and downright stupid liberals are..

He's just doing the same thing all Lefties do when they don't like the subject matter. Spike the thread. Shout down the speakers. Isolate, polarize, destroy. The usually liberal fascist SOP.

TmjUtah said...

"A politically open-minded Truther..."

What planet did that idea originate on?

Chennaul said...

As if no one would have thought about the ramifications.

Hence the full bird repeatedly sending the e-mails stating-

you have no PROBLEM!? [with this.]

And you know the Bush administration never did something like this-it takes Team Obama.

But ya nothin' to see here move along.

How dare you question the crap photo.

$300,000 and all you got was this?

I hate getting played-otherwise I wouldn't give a titus.

But it's pretty evident the media doesn't give a titus either.

So, it's over and this easy too.

Kindergardeners could play the press as long as they claim to work for Obama.

Unknown said...

Ok, so Caldera was 'informed' of the mission. Who was the FIRST person to say, "Hey, we need to update file photos of AF1. Let's fly over NYC and insist the authorities not tell the public." I really want to know, who has the authority to roll the President's plane if he's not on it.

wuzzagrunt said...

The "updating the file photo" story is such a transparent lie, that I am annoyed that it got trotted out in the first place. I guess since 54% of the electorate voted for New Coke®, they figured Americans are dumb enough to believe it. They may be right.

Presidential administrations commonly reward big donors with such perqs. During the Bush administration a sub full of joyriding fatcats sunk a Japanese fishing trawler (Ehime Maru) when she pulled an emergency surfacing maneuver. These are not America's finest moments, but **everybody does it**.

Far more informative than IF it was a sightseeing tour, is WHO was aboard. If it was a group of "respectable" Dem bigwigs, we would have heard the mea culpas and we would already have seen the backdated reimbursement checks from the Obama campaign for the costs.

Was Obama flying UAW execs? Goldman Sachs honchos? ACORN goons? Worse?

CharlesVegas said...

I will post as "CharlesVegas" to avoid walking on commenter "Charles" with longer tenure.

Check out this photo of AF1 with the first chase plane.

I believe the purpose of the mission was to film AF1 along with this red-tailed F-16.

Martin Gale said...

Actually, by agreeing not to daily terrorize New Yorkers with pointless 911 re-enactments, Obama achieves about 1.3B in deficit reduction over the next 10 years (10*365*357,000). Now for people in the fat cat blogosphere this may seem like chump change, but hardworking Americans on Main Street know that this is a real saving. Welcome to the age of transparency and fiscal responsibility.

SAM said...

For a PR photo, wouldn't one of the goals be to make sure the writing "United States of America" on the side of the plane is legible?

mariner said...

That picture was taken from a lot higher than 1000 ft.

And there's no chance we'll ever see an actual manifest for that flight.

Maybe it was full of community organizers.

Story said...

Of course we know who was on the plane.... George "I'm having a great recession" Soros. As the flight landed he was heard to say,"Now that that's over, I'm going to Disney World! What a really great recession!!!"

The Crack Emcee said...

"Yes, I know. I've moved into conspiracy theory territory. It's not my thing, normally. But this is just staring me in the face, and I feel required to say what I see. The pieces don't fit. I want to know more."I'm intrigued that Ann can openly claim to have "moved into conspiracy theory territory" and everybody shrugs and continues talking to her, but let me state the obvious (I've mentioned her other-worldly outlook before) and I'm regularly accused of being a conspiracy theorist.

I'll never understand this NewAge.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I read it was a film op for George Lucas's film "Red Tails"...this makes sense to me.

It makes sense to you to use hundreds of thousands of tax payer dollars and scare the living crap out of a lot of civilians, in order to make a film trailer for a private individual so that he can make a profit on his business?

That makes sense????

Palladian said...

"That makes sense????"

Obama owes Hollywood, big time. They'll be filming the reincarnation of The West Wing in the West Wing.

In fact, the whole Obama administration seems to be scripted as a 4 year long miniseries, probably on Lifetime.

I'm Full of Soup said...

Sure DBQ:

It looks like the Bay Area Air Quality Board did not mind paying Tom Friedman $75,000 plus expenses for a Q&A.

Unknown said...

I wonder who was responsible for this photo-op. Check out this Onion-style parody:

Paddy O said...

"let me state the obvious (I've mentioned her other-worldly outlook before) and I'm regularly accused of being a conspiracy theorist."

It's a conspiracy! What does Ann know and when did she know it?!

I suspect this has something to do with the suggestion that ZPS and Palladian are exactly the same person, West Coast vs. East Coast in the same person, within this blog.

Many commentators are caught up in the devastation. Except for Meade.

In Meade we have all the answers, if only we knew the questions we need to ask him.

Sprezzatura said...

That was definitely an earpiece in BHO's ear.

Oh wait...wrong Althouse conspiracy. My bad.

I think Althouse is trying to recapture the magic of her previous internet hit that related to a president, NY, and flying.

"Come on, you'd fly to New York City, to eat "southern chicken" with Bill Clinton and pose for a group photo, wouldn't you? And then you'd go home and blog about how he's good on your issues and how you're totally impressed, right? And, omigosh, "He's got beautiful blue eyes.""

Chennaul said...


Surely they aren't going to be that boring-hopefully at least a mini-series.

[Crap-I think I just outed myself as a non-TV viewer-do they still do the "mini-series'?]

Chennaul said...

Paddy O.

Try to keep the soap opera around here straight!

It was Jason the Commenter who "deduced' that suppposedly titus and Palladian were the same person based on some Greek architecture nonsense.

I accused ZPS of being titus due to that "love you" sign off and their shared fixation with Aptiva yogurt.

Shoot me.

Sprezzatura said...

I should have written:

...related to a photo, a president, NY, and flying.

Joe said...

I agree with the analysis that the picture being shown is a snapshot taken by one of the F-16 pilots for personal reasons. Even candid shots by official military photographers are much better than this--planned ones are extremely good.

This may explain why it took so long for the photograph to be released: the white house had to scrounge up a photo.

As for my speculation for the purpose of the flight: it was payback for some wealthy donors who are rightly pissed at the instability Obama is creating in the economy by his capricious changes in laws and public denunciations of people who were fixing things.

Regardless, it's only a matter of time before someone talks. Every president ignores this little rule and yet just about every president gets bitten by it. If history is a guide, Obama will also learn that the cover up is worse than the original offense (another lesson those in power seem to fail to learn, or blithely ignore thinking they are smarter and more clever than the others.)

Col Mustard said...

The photo shoot is a story yet untold. “Following the money” (cost of the mission) is a distraction.

We still don’t know who set this project in motion or why.

The most benign explanation (the one most bandied about, so far) is that it was a routine update of a picture of an air force aircraft with a famous landmark in the background. The air force has, for many years, produced poster sized lithograph sets of such pictures for use in offices, hallways, etc. The pictures were/are popular and motivational. One could even argue that they’re not a waste of money.

I don’t think we know who declared that the public not be notified prior to the flyover. We should know this. And why (really, there is no possible reason).

If there is merit to the claim that this mission was to obtain a high quality photograph “suitable for framing”, the mission was not dependent on a “money shot” by an F-16 pilot aiming a camera out of the side of the cockpit (although I’ve seen remarkable pictures taken in this way). At the least, there would have been a professional air force photographer in another aircraft or there would be other photo systems on the aircraft. It would be interesting to identify the photographer and interview him/her. It would also be interesting if air traffic control could tell us if there were any other aircraft in the area at this time or flying near AF One along another part of its route.

In some air force office, there are documents listing the players and their roles. It’s the way military organizations do business. If no such documentation exists, that suggests the existence of an even bigger problem.

I reject nearly all conspiracy theories immediately but elements of this intrigue.

Use of the “red tail” F-16 escorts is way too big a coincidence. A picture of modern-day Tuskegee airmen escorting the first black President’s plane – does this reek of “You’ve come a long way, baby,” or what? Did Obama want this or did someone close to him want to impress him with a gift? Maybe, the idea originated at the fighter squadron, itself. I wonder if reporters have bothered to call (maybe that would be insensitive). Why haven’t all pilots involved been interviewed?

The thought that pictures might be used in a major film about the Tuskegee airmen is hard to ignore. I wonder if anyone has asked the air force office responsible for coordinating support for movies and television if they are aware of any requests for cooperation in connection with the Tuskegee film project.

While the idea of joy-riding political supporters is believable, the idea of buzzing lower Manhattan for this purpose is not. And the inclusion of the red tail F-16s would be unnecessary and, well, crazy. Unless…

CharlesVegas said...

OK, it appears to be SOP for the White House to run photos through Photoshop and use the "Save for Web" feature in that application. This is why the tag "Ducky" appears in the file header (see here). I checked several White House photos and they all have the "Ducky" tag.

Unfortunately, it appears that the "Save for Web" strips the EXIF data (metadata about type of camera, exposure, etc) from the image.

So it likely was not nefarious intent on their part. It was, however, a golden opportunity lost.

LonewackoDotCom said...

I only beat Althouse about speculating about this by two weeks, but then again since this is the first time she's ever considered that there might be something more going on with something than we're told, congratulations.

Of course, as I type, PopularMechanics and Insty are working on a debunking article, so Althouse might want to re-think the whole independent thinking thing.

P.S. If it is a distraction, it's certainly worked. No matter whether it is or isn't a distraction, I suggest concentrating on the things that are much more important.

Bill said...

The poor quality/composure of the photo suggests that it was not an official USAF photograph. When the Air Force wants to shoot aircraft in flight, they can call on the sevices of professional photographers that belong to units specifically organized for that purpose. I think the 1st Combat Camera Squadron is the only active unit, but there have been several others in the last 20-30 years, some of which may still be active in the ANG or the AF Reserve Command. Considering the subject, I think it is likely that the Air Force would have sent their best and produced a number of memorable shots. Whatever the real story is, it does not sound like it was solely an effort to update file photos.

Parker Smith said...

I believe Michelle Malkin has file a couple of Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain such things as the flight manifest.

It will be interesting to see what comes of that...

CharlesVegas said...

I doubt there were any passengers on the plane. High-banked low-altitude turns around the city would have been a pukefest.

Think how you feel when your flight makes its turn for final approach flying in to, say, Denver, and the city goes whizzing by the window - vertically!

Editor said...


Cedarford said...

Sometimes the forest is missed for the trees. The military said this was a regularly scheduled "training mission" diverted to NYC as a locale for a photo op.

Amidst all the yammer about Photoshop and how pictures can be taken better....well, photographer Althouse has a good nose for the fishy...but few others have questioned why the mission was done before the "photo opportunity" was added. Because they were tunnel-visioned into "photo" minutea.

It is hardly secret that the two 747 planes the President flies are regularly updated with the latest in ECM (electronics countermeasures) that have to be tested & checked out. Amongst the most challenging places are in flight over a crowded city full of microwave, radio comms as well as onboard radar having to discern airborne or ground threat from the radar clutter of countless high, square, super radar reflecting buildings.

Both F-16s maintained attack positions at 6 O'clock for much of the overflight. One of the F-16s was a two-seater electronics suite warplane.

And perhaps that factored into the AF and FAA not wanting the overflight known far and wide so the Syrians, NORKs, Israelis (for sale to others), Chinese, etc. did not rush in special SIGINT to see if one of the 2 Presidential planes had something new and valuable to know, on it, in the way of defenses.
Of course, if it had happened over a city like Chicago or Phoenix, vs. NYC you wouldn't have to worry about potential adversaries already set up in embassies and waiting to scoop up what they wanted.

That is, if that was the real reason why one of the two designated AF-1s were sent. (Remember this was not initiated in the White House, but by the AF..and if they wanted, they could have had a far more impressive flight serving AF parochial interests with a B-1B or a B-2 sent with 2 F-22 chase planes.) But the AF also has the mission of protecting the safety of government dignitaries traveling overseas, while they are in the air - with the President as the highest priority. Notice this was not done using one of the 3 planes Speaker Pelosi uses, or the two that serve Harry Reid or Hillary...

Michael said...
Taking a serious photo from an F-16 makes no sense because of all of the anti-reflective coatings on the canopy glass.

And that should raise suspicions, since the AF has ultra-high quality cameras unmatched in commercial markets that they mount on the exterior of recon planes, warplanes, etc. And satellites. That they release a pic from a hand-held camera inside a cockpit is silly. IMO, "the photo-op in NYC!!" was just an add-on, some fool having a brainstorm, tossed into the decision process for those already set with implementing a scheduled "training" flight with importnant tests - happening somewhere...TBD..

Titusshitonyourface said...

I eat Fage Yogurt.

Get your yogurt right please.

thank you.

I thought I was watching Boys in The Band while reading the gays fighting blog post...and I loved it. I want more personal attacks, tears, and tandrums.

Titusshitonyourface said...

Dijon Mustard.


Arugla is just so annoying.

I am pissed.

Chennaul said...

No- you just recently got all into the FAGE,

You want -"tandrums"?

I think all the boys on that thread are too white for that.

Chennaul said...

And you are fake on the FAGE anyone who knows FAGE capitalizes it...

So gauche.

Titusshitonyourface said...

Tandrums...that's funny.

But I am still pissed.

NahnCee said...

"I am pissed."

AS in drunk and stupid.


Chennaul said...

Arugula sucks-who eats that?

That's why you're PO'd.

Have you ever tasted that schwill by itself-it need somethin'...

Personally I flip for Heinz mustard but I am second generation ghetto.

Hell maybe first...

CharlesVegas said...

I don't buy that cedarford. First, they'd have no confidence that a secret mission to test electronic countermeasures wasn't leaked.

Second, all those foreign embassy listening posts likely record RF traffic continuously. So they would only have to review their recordings after the fact to watch as F-16 performs a test, and AF1 responds or counteracts. It would give away the whole playbook.

Unknown said...

Uhhm, anyone consider that it maight have been a 9/11 scenario run by?

rc said...

"Those F-16s were from the Alabama ANG 187th FW. They only have the 'C' model, which is single seat."

Ugh, I was wrong...Alabama ANG does have the 2 seat version. Found a picture of one.

The Hilltop View of Morris County said...

A man named Obama buzzes NYC and
scares the life out of thousands.
A man named Osama buzzes NYC and
blows the life out of thousands.


Automatic_Wing said...

That they release a pic from a hand-held camera inside a cockpit is silly.

USAF photographers use commercially available Nikon pro cameras and shoot through canopy and window glass all the time. They take a lot of pictures from the boom window on KC-135 tankers.

We all agree that what they released was not a professional photograph, though. And there should be hundreds of shots, not one, if this was a legitimate photo op. Show me another 500 crappy pictures and I might believe the photographer had a bad day or just plain sucks.

Also interesting that there's no credit for the photo. Official AF photos are always credited.

Jim Howard said...

I was a USAF navigator in F-4 and F-111 airplanes back a few years ago.

I was once involved in filming for the Air Force internal PR purposes.

In this case a combat photographer from the Air Force Audio-Visual Service road in the back of an F-4, and we carried a camera pod with a 35mm movie camera in it to get air-to-air shots.

If the VC-25 was really on a photo mission then the Air Force would have had sophisticated camera gear and professional photographers involved in the mission.

The Air Force has lived in envy of the Navy's 'Top Gun' for years, I really think the 'Red Tail' theory is at least plausible.

Titusshitonyourface said...

Liberals are always drunk and stupid and unemployed...and elitists.

I am fucking outraged right now I can't even see straight.

Fucking libtard moonbats.

Titusshitonyourface said...

I am still fuming about mustard on a burger. Why didn't he just ask for Fage 0 Yogurt?

Give me more posts to fuel my outrage. I need sustenance.

And more fighting fags.

Titusshitonyourface said...

I was given a dirty look from some libtard book store worker because I asked for Ann Coulter's book.

What happened to libtards respect for diversity? Diversity my ass.

I am so fucking mad.

Synova said...

"IF there was nothing to see here as the liberal sheeple posting insist, why hasn't the White House (1) released the manifest, (2) released more than one lousy photograph, (3) provided interview access to the pilots, stewardesses, ground crew involved?"

Extreme bad judgment isn't enough to see? I must be a "liberal sheeple"... egad.

It may or may not have been a photo op, though "photo op" is as likely as anything. If it wasn't, it might have been classified (perhaps something such as Cedarford described.) But the thing to understand about "classified" is that it doesn't mean something sneaky or odd or secret is going on or that the government is trying to "hide" something they'd be embarrassed by anymore than having a key pad on a door and "authorized to use deadly force" on a sign means that anything less than boring is happening inside a building on a base someplace. It's a CYA, better safe than sorry, and once put in place can't be removed just because someone decides that it's fatuous.

And Fen... everything I've heard is that 9-11 for people IN New York was a vastly different experience than for people elsewhere. I think that's reasonable. *I* am not traumatized by the event. (Angry, determined, etc.,.. but not traumatized.) *I* would not panic if planes were flying low over-head. My reaction is to go out to Ooooo and Aahhhh over the pretty.

It might be fun to wonder, but lets not do the polka double-time into Truther conspiracy territory.

Chennaul said...

Look titus hang in there-

by November-

unemployment 10%.

And you know Obama might not give you -

Fighting Fags.

But he is giving you-

Firing Fags.

Not as special but there it is.

Unknown said...

How do you know the photo wasn't taken from a 2-seat F-16B or D config fighter? (

grinder said...

You're missing the real story. Hillary Clinton was taking a joy ride over her old stomping grounds with the corpse of Vincent Foster. Necrophilia, anyone? After all, they ARE Democrats.

Poor wingnuts. There's no end to your anguish!

Fen said...

And Fen... everything I've heard is that 9-11 for people IN New York was a vastly different experience than for people elsewhere. I think that's reasonable. *I* am not traumatized by the event. (Angry, determined, etc.,.. but not traumatized.) *I* would not panic if planes were flying low over-head. My reaction is to go out to Ooooo and Aahhhh over the pretty..
And thats fine. My point was that 9-11 isn't even on the Obama administration's radar. Else, someone would have caught this beforehand.

Synova said...

"My point was that 9-11 isn't even on the Obama administration's radar."

Likely true.

"Else, someone would have caught this beforehand."

Never underestimate the stupidity inherent in regulations.

If the "rule" is that AF1 always and only travels as secretly as possible the regulations and the procedures to ensure that is so will be followed as severely as possible always. Who has authority to change them?

This is where leadership elements might come into play... the situation where lower-downs feel comfortable reminding higher-ups that something stupid is about to happen are situations where there is a lot of trust. When there is a lack of trust in leadership, following regulations and procedures to the letter is always right. Even if it all goes pear-shaped you can't get in trouble for following the rules.

Now that could be earned mistrust or it could be that there hasn't been time to get used to the new boss yet.

Anonymous said...

For accuracy, we could call it a VC-25, the military designation for the airplanes commonly known as Air force 1.

Cedarford said...

CharlesVegas said...
I don't buy that cedarford. First, they'd have no confidence that a secret mission to test electronic countermeasures wasn't leaked.

WHAT mission to test electronic countermeasures? So far everyone is buying the story that the "training mission" was somehow to get flight time for 1 of two Presidential planes or two F-16s from Alabama...from an ECM base...and to achieve one rotten picture taken from a hand-held inside a F-16 cockpit???????

(Note, both the President's planes get flightime galore, and Alabama specialized EW warplanes don't need to be up by NYC for their regular "training.". So whatever the training mission was, it was for the President's planes, using AF warbird assets and probably ground-based facilities as part of the exercise.

Second, all those foreign embassy listening posts likely record RF traffic continuously. So they would only have to review their recordings after the fact to watch as F-16 performs a test, and AF1 responds or counteracts. It would give away the whole playbook..

The three most active espionage networks in the US - the Chinese, the Israelis and their stooges, and the Russians - do a lot of "warrantless" eavesdropping of Americans from NYC but I doubt the embassy's gear is the right stuff for RF on ECM warfare. But with advance notice, the 3 countries could have rushed in the right gear on a Flight from Beijing, Tel Aviv, or Moscow..or better yet, had one of their air assets aloft to "sniff" directional signals.

Bear in mind that the plane was right in the Flightpath of Ft Monmouth outside NYC, one of our main ECM development bases - and also the happy home to a sizable amount of NSA spooks, equipment and assets..

PS - Jim Howard has it right. The AF has amazing photo capacities and actually drove much of the technology advances in photography from WWII until the 90s.
They want great photos, they have the camera pods and professionial photogs to make it happen --if they really wanted great photos...

Roger_Paw said...

Interesting take on this story. I live and work in New York City and when I heard about the photo op fly over (I didn't see it myself) one of my first thoughts was, 'Really? today? But it's so smoggy out, not conducive to an official photo at all!'

I can tell you first-hand that the weather that day was bad and cannot imagine any photographer worth his salt opting to take such important photos that day.

We had gone through days of rain and I remember the air was rather brown from the smog.

It's funny how you can get caught up in such details subconsciously. I specifically remember looking far ahead at the skyscrapers in the distance while on my walk to the subway (and later in my office as I looked out my window at the buildings in the distance) and remarking how very brown and smoggy the sky was at the horizon that day.

So when I heard about the photo op I figured it must have been a scheduled event made far in advance and just had to be done that day despite the fact the sky was a milky haze with brown clouds.

lectric lady said...

The President admitted it last night:

Malia and Sasha

lectric lady said...

The President admitted it last night:

Malia and Sasha

Kelvin Anderson said...

Typical abuse of resources once the clowns get into power.
I'm surprised we can't see the idiots on board pressing their faces against the windows for the 'photo' I wonder when they'll install shag carpeting and spinners on the wheels.

Change we can use.... my ass.

JAL said...

If it was something for Lucas, there would be no problem saying that would there?

And if it were something for Lucas -- there would have been some hot dog photography planes and/or pictures.

Releasing a single crappy picture is just weird.

And this is, libs, a symptom of something wrong in DC.

But we already knew that.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm sorry I got here late and I'm even sorrier that I have to agree with Cedarford, but I do: the notion that this was a necessary mission for some sort of anti-spying testing is the only explanation that makes any sense.

There have been a few of these kinds of instances in recent years. Sadly, I can't remember any of the specifics. But the template is the same: the government does some seemingly insane, dumb thing and you are just alarmed by the combination of craziness and stupidity. But then, when you look at it as a spying maneuver or a test of spying hardware or whatever, it all comes together.

I definitely do not buy the wealthy contributors thing, precisely it doesn't make any sense, either.

Trochilus said...

Ann, you are obviously right about the photo. The flight was not undertaken for the purpose of getting that shot. And, they have conceded that the photos were not classified. But they adamantly refuse to release any of them, save one.

That photo was no doubt taken by the F-16 pilot, using a relatively standard digital camera. There is even some reflection in the photo, and poor lighting. It is an amateur photo.

They were not going to release any at all, until they came across that one. It is essentially a snap shot photo, which reveals no part of whatever was going on inside the plane.

I think the most likely circumstance was a "reward" for contributors, or bundlers . . . Obama's version of the Bill Clinton "sleep-over" in the Lincoln Bedroom. How many people can stay over in the Lincoln Bedroom on any given night? How many people can board Air Force One? It is a very, very logical explanation.

The fact that the Administration has failed to come up with any remotely coherent explanation for why the flight was taken, strongly suggests they are covering up something potentially very embarrassing.

And think about the stupid "fact" they put out there --- about it not really being Air Force One if the President is not on board! Why would they go out of their way to pointedly draw such a silly distinction without a difference, unless they were fearful of public exposure over what was happening on board?

Why did they refuse to discuss anything more about the flight afterward, unless there was something to hide?

A political event of some sort being held on-board would also explain the extreme demands for secrecy in advance of the flight.

Think about it . . . they admit that the photos are NOT classified, and yet the only one they released was an amateur photo that shows nothing about what was going on inside the plane.

Jim Howard said...

This certainly was NOT a 'secret test', electronic or otherwise.

THINK people! You want to have a 'secret' test flight.

Do you route a 747 and several fighters OVER A HUGE CITY AT 1,000 FEET during your 'secret' flight???????

Its a SEVEN-FRACKING-SEVEN!!! They could fly it to the Nellis or Eglin Ranges, where most USAF testing is done, and back non-stop, and nobody would notice it.

Whatever this was, it was not a 'secret flight', not once it took off.

This had some political or PR purpose, there is no military test that needs a statue of Liberty flyby.

AllenS said...

Then the thought occurred to me, where was Joe Biden? This has his method of operation written all over it.

The Comedian said...

If you want to head directly into conspiracy theory then why not go all the way.

President Obama ordered this flight to intimidate Wall street. He wanted to scare the wits out of the financial workers in lower Manhattan. Buzzing the lower end of the city was intentionally done to fly the flag and let the financial sector know who is really in charge now.

They didn't forget about the mental scars of 9/11.

They exploited them.

end conspiracy theory

(This all came to me in the shower this morning, mostly as a joke.)

Anonymous said...

4/27 was an inside job!

The Comedian said...

Sorry, last minute thought: There are two-seater F-16's in the arsenal. Perhaps one of the chase planes was a training model?

Archie Berk said...

This could very well have been at the request of David Axelrod to create PR shots for the 2012 election..sort of like "travelgate"

Unknown said...

I was thinking that the flight/incident had the exact effect that was intended...that is, it scared the h*ll of the folks on Wall Street and reminded them who the new boss is? No? Straight out of Psych Warfare 101.

Willys said...

The maiden flight of Kool-Aid One

Brian Dunbar said...

First was rhhardin said:

It's not easy to take pictures when you're steering a fighter with your knees.
That's why they put the photographer in the back seat: the Air Force has 121 F-16B models - the two seat version.

You've seen nifty imagery shot from two-seat fighters before: air force and Navy photographers take 'em all the time.

1775OGG said...

This is all good. However, what is needed is the ID of who's on that Big Honker USAF Plane. I understand that Malkin has filed a FOIA request to see the plane's manifest. Personally, it doesn't matter to me who the regularly assigned USAF folks on the plane were, it's the others.

My bet is that someone likely embarrassing to His Nibs was on the plane. Maybe it was Geo. Lucas getting some "free" publicity shots for his upcoming film on the Tuskegee Airmen. If not good ol GL himself, maybe one of GL's flunkies.

Gee, it must be good to be Herr Obama. Or, perhaps in honor of Chavez, we should instead refer to our president as Senor Obama or Jefe Obama.

Remember, for now, it's His Country and we're just trying to live in it (PBUH!).

Socky Sockpuppet said...

If there were contributors on that flight, sooner or later one of them will need to brag about it. If there were celebrities on it, it will be sooner.

Patience, Grasshopper.

Unknown said...

Lucas was on the plane with movie camera - also filming the fighters over NY as well as AF1.

Its about the Tuskegee Fighter Group - how black airmen saved us during WWII , black Pres, etc.

Eric Rasmusen said...

For detailed comments on the White House and Gates memos, with lots more questions they provoke, see

TosaGuy said...

The photo....

AF One..big and imposing...dominate

Statue of Liberty, tiny and below the plane....submissive.

Looks like Obama got the photo he wanted.

Noah Boddie said...

It was resource exploration.

"Look down there! That statue is practically made of copper! You know how much digon mustard we could buy for that much copper?! Heck, it's just wasting space now. As soon as we finish destroying the liberty it represents, we shouldn't have a hard sell dragging the whole thing to the scrap yard."

Noah Boddie said...

This is a preview of what nationalized health care will be like. They will blow a trillion dollar budget in the first three weeks, giving every patient in the country platinum walkers, gold leaf covered aspirin, plaster casts sculpted by crack Italian craftsmen, and bedsheets handwoven by Betsy Ross in 1780. Then on week 4, we all just get to drop dead.

But as long as we die happy, right? And it's somebody else's imaginary trillion dollars, after all. It's not like real money that we have to pay back. That's how it works with credit cards, too. You just spend til it hurts, using somebody else's Social Security number, that is. You get stuff for free!

We have an entire generation, and political party, that never learned what money actually is. It's scary.

I could have done that photo in Photoshop for less than a quarter million. Heck, I would do it for free if they told me it would cut the national debt by 300K!

They should all resign. Oh, did I say resign? I mean they should all be voted out. Can we do a recall election now?

Dave S. said...

While that particular photo does look like a pilot's snapshot, in fact there are two-seat F-16s, and this fellow (now deceased) used to take pictures from one:

hdhouse said...

just a point of interest, the Tail Number on AF1 is 28000 so the one photographed here is the older of the two...the "spare".

JAL said...

OK, I finally followed the link to the claim that Lucas was on the plane.

My take?


If Lucas wanted pictures of the Tuskegee F-16s over NYC (??why??) let me count the ways that could have been done cheaper and better .... 1,2,3,4,..55, ...147, ...895, ...1001 ...

Using the uniquely equipped, one of only two, US presidential aircraft for a vanity photo op --- which did NOT include the presidential aircraft, is really, really irresponsible, really immature, or supremely arrogant.

(How did the heads of the automakers get to DC again? Where is Congress?)

But hey, to quote a famous politican, "I won!"

Can't wait until 2010.

Anonymous said...

Its odd but its hard to seperate this fiasco from typical, garden variety govt. stupidity or something worse. I am sincerely hoping their explanation is the correct one, and not an amatuerish lie that will come back to bite them in the hindquarters.

Noah Boddie said...

Could this photo be Obama's "Mission Accomplished"?

Unknown said...

Any suggestions about what the big shadow on the lower right corner is/was? It clearly is not from either plane because it's far too big and it's in the wrong place. Note that the shadow on the rear of AF1 leans to the left. Was there a huge dark cloud rolling in? My guess is that it was a misplaced finger, possibly 'shopped out so it didn't look like a total tourist photo.

david4 1 said...

This is the Presidents private plane and he is responsible for it. We await word....

david4 1 said...

This is the President's personal plane. He is responsible for it. We await word...

Almost Ali said...

The symbolism seems apparent; teach evil Wall Street [another] lesson.

In fact, it's the same lesson Obama gave to Chrysler, albeit in a closet.

The flyover excuse is lame, so lame it could only be intentional.

Jan Bear said...

Could have been a trial run for getting Obama and the new plane out of Washington, DC, in the event of some "unhelpful" action from one of our interrogators around the globe.

That would explain why it's so scary-secret, because he can't trust us rubes out in the provinces not to panic at the thought that our president might be on the verge of panicking.

Another question might be where did the plane go besides New York? (It's northbound in the photo, but it may have been circling.)

Ken said...

I hope all of you who voted for this megalomaniac are happy with what you got. Obama wanted campaign pictures for next year and had a fall guy ready if anything went wrong. Anybody who thinks the President didn't know and approve of this stunt is crazy.

Daddio said...

If this was a photo op. The photos were taken from the ground. The fighter jets escorting Air Force 1 are part of the subject matter. They could have had cameras set up anywhere. That would fit with the George Lucas possibility. Otherwise I have to say it is another "sleep over in the Lincoln bedroom" for some big donor or other.

Buckeye_Tom said...

Of all explanations, Cedarford's speculation that it might have been an exercise to test the 747's capabailities in an urban setting probably makes the most sense.

Why pick NYC, though - a choice which was bound to lead to more alarm and potential "feedback" than if they had chosen, say, Baltimore or Philadelphia?

Maybe what was really being tested was the reaction of New Yorkers to the exercise? We may never know the real reason for this fiasco.

It will be ironic, though, when the "progressive" Obama repsonds to the next wave of inquiries by putting up a Nixonian wall: "I've always said that the President's first repsonsibility is to protect the American people. I thought I could best protect the people by keeping a lid over the particulars of a classified mission, but now that members of the press are endangering national security, I must insist that the safety of the American people be prioritized."

The thing is, perhaps the facts of the mission are sensitive, and should be classified. Obama declassified CIA enhanced interogation memos in a cherry picked fashion. He was an acquintance (or worse) of domestic terrorist William Ayers. The "progressive" media, academia, pols had no respect for the national security prerogatives of the Bush administration. I could go on and on. But now "progressive" Dems are ascendant, Nixonian (or Bushian) methods will be utilized as necessary, maybe even when they are not really necessary, and the "progressive" infrastructure will attempt to undermine (or in some cases destroy) those who try to go all Woodward and Bernstein on the One.

kauffner said...

Air Force 1 is obviously the new Lincoln Bedroom. If it was a group of contributors, something would have leaked out by now. It has to be a specific big name contributor who fantasizes about being a 9/11 hijacker. After the bowing-to-the-Saudi-king incident, my money is on Prince Talal. Soros or Geffen are on my list as well.

Socky Sockpuppet said...

For those who say the flight was about George Lucas and the Tuskegee airmen--Have you ever seen Star Wars? Why in the world would Lucas need real world footage of any airplane?

Cedarford said...

Jim Howard said...
This certainly was NOT a 'secret test', electronic or otherwise.

THINK people! You want to have a 'secret' test flight.

Do you route a 747 and several fighters OVER A HUGE CITY AT 1,000 FEET during your 'secret' flight???????

Its a SEVEN-FRACKING-SEVEN!!! They could fly it to the Nellis or Eglin Ranges, where most USAF testing is done, and back non-stop, and nobody would notice it.

Jim, Jim! As ex-AF you know there is no "secret" once a conventional mission is well underway. D-Day was a secret on June was clearly not a secret to the Germans seeing 10s of thousands of troops arriving on the beaches. Nor, in contemporary operational security, is a flight into Baghdad of the Prez or various other dignitaries - which always approach low and fast over the urban landscape to give bad guys only scant seconds of reaction time to ready a MANPAD - a secret once it happens.
But secret enough beforehand to thwart adequate reaction time.

Same with SIGINT. Publishing arrival time and flight path days ahead of time would have given the Chinese, the Israelis and their American stooges, and the Russians time to rush-fly in specialized equipment to "sniff" the event's signals.

The training mission was already scheduled before someone wanted an "add-on" of an iconic picture over NYC added to the mission. If the mission was for training crew of AF-1, AF-2 on new equipment over an urban area - it was a mistake to use NYC when more normal cities in the USA would have sufficed.

Kudos again to Althouse for thinking something is fishy about the whole "it was just a photo-op" story line.

Johanna Lapp said...

The Tuskeegee Airmen fought World War II air battles with fighter jets? In the skies above New York City?

Z.Sorenson said...

Look at the blurring on the nose of the aircraft, and the shadow-cockpit in the lower corner. Could this whole thing be a very good photo-shop. I'm serious.

SarahW said...

Has anyone asked Lucas if there is any connection at all to his Tuskegee film production?

Let *him* deny it.

Jay said...

They used an F16 pilot to snap pictures? Given all the complications revealed here with that..
Why wouldn't they use a stationary helicopter, sitting in place to snap them instead?

Bob said...

I have OFFICIAL word from the USAF.

There were NO civilians on the VC-25A that strafed New York.

Anne, I have the statement on my site here:

Dan said...

What makes anyone think the photo op was of the outside of Airforce one flying over a distant land mark?

Was anyone inside the only aircraft in the formation capable of holding a photographer taking photos of someone unknown inside? Then why fly it? Those photos could be got on the ground.

Were there anyone taking photos of NY from inside Airforce one?

If it was Clinton there would be rumors of Mile High Clubbing.

Anonymous said...

Why not have all the pictures released? Untouched. It is a digital world, any reasonable attempt would have generated hundreds of pictures. They would have used a professional SLR camera, probably with gyroscopic stabilizing platform for the camera, and polarizing filters to get through the cockpit.

Trochilus said...

For anyone here who is still hung up on the silly nonsense -- initially put out by the White House -- about it not really being Air Force One unless the President is on board, just check the official White House web address where the ONE photo was posted for release to the public last Friday.

Below is that actual photo, as they they posted it on their website:

Notice the official White House web address designation for the actual photo itself . . . AF1_photo1.

Gee . . . why do I want to think that shorthand AF1 stands for White House One?"

Because it does!

So, that gives us two choices . . . either they knew it was a distinction without a difference when they floated that "factoid" . . . OR, the POTUS was actually on the plane at the time.

Those are the only two logical possibilities.

Trochilus said...

Dave S. at 9:20 AM

Fascinating. Good catch!

But, as others have pointed out, there is a world of difference in the quality of the photos done by Judson Brohmer -- or anyone the Air force would have certainly had replace him -- and whoever snapped this pic.

** said...

The Boy Who Cried WolfNext time a Jumbo does a low-pass over a large American City the populace will look up and go "It's just that wacky Obama wasting taxes again".

Then the Nuke will go off.

Obama and his Administration were just softening up NYC for his Alqueda and Taliban homies.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine asked me for my input on this, since I am an experienced aviation photographer (1, 2). So...

Yes, it's a pretty crappy photo, in a few different ways. First, the colors really need to be adjusted, something that takes 10 seconds in Photoshop. Also, while it's often hard to entirely prevent reflections in the window, the white blur over the 747's nose is just a tad excessive, and the dark lower-right corner (Edge of window? Photographer's finger?) is completely unacceptable and could at the very least have been cropped out (2 seconds in Photoshop) or cloned over (15 seconds in Photoshop). As far as the angle and background, it is easy to argue that taking that picture looking north (with Manhattan in the background) would have made for a better picture than looking west (with Jersey in the background), and better lit too (sun behind the photographer). The only reasons I can think of why they would shoot west instead of north are 1] the statue is facing the camera (but I think the statue looks just as cool when seen from the side) and 2] the flight corridor over the Hudson goes north-south, so a pilot can fly up or down the river but can't really fly across it (but I don't think the USAF worries very much about where the FAA wants VFR pilots to hang out, unless flying perpendicular to the river for too long places the planes directly in the path of jets flying into/out of the three nearby commercial airports).

The use of an F-16 as a camera ship is non-ideal but not wildly improbable. When you ride an aerobatic aircraft, you want to be strapped tight to the seat by a 5-point harness. Sure, this makes photography tricky, especially when you don't have live preview (i.e. when you use an SLR that's more than a year or two old, and the LCD doesn't display what the lens is seeing, and either you use the viewfinder (hard to do while strapped to the seat) or you just point the camera in the right general direction and fire off 20 shots, what is known as "Spray and pray"). But air-to-air photography is regularly done like that, when an aerobatic photo platform is required (e.g. when you want to shoot from above looking down on the top of the subject, so you need to fly above it inverted). I myself have done aerobatic photography from inside airplanes like Harmon Rockets (tiny and extremely agile and powerful stunt planes) and L39s (Russian-built military jets) and you definitely want to be strapped in tight during loops and rolls, same as in a roller-coaster. And even when aerobatics are not required, plenty of two-seater F-16s, F-18s, T-33s, T-34s, and T-38s (all T-33s/-34s/-38s are two-seaters) are used as chase planes and camera ships in places where flight testing is done (Boeing Field, Edwards AFB, etc), and they all involve being tightly strapped in. And while the areodynamics of T-33s and T-38s make them a little wobbly outside a fairly narrow range of speeds, F-16s and F/A-18s can fly perfectly steadily at slow speeds, below a 747's landing speed. But, in any case, aviation photographers do prefer aircraft where doors can be opened or removed, so there is not a thick layer of glass right in front of the camera. The B-25 is the ideal camera ship (it has openings in every direction, where the gun turrets used to be; Most Hollywood aerial footage is shot from B-25s, typically the one that belongs to the museum at Chino;1, 2), and arguably the best aerial photoshoot ever done around NYC (on the Wednesday and Thursday before the 2006 Jones Beach airshow) was out the open rear ramp of a C-130. In these cases, not only do you not have the layer of glass, you are also not tightly strapped in.

Why did they not shoot looking north? Why did they not use a photographer who knew how to post-process in Photoshop? Why did they not use an aircraft with glass-less openings? I don't know. Is it that hard to believe that they simply didn't know better, i.e. didn't have an experienced air-to-air photographer handy? I don't know.

As for the theory that the camera is a cheap point-and-shoot... Hard to tell with the small-sized image. If I saw the original, I could tell whether it's a big-sensor camera (like an SLR) or a small-sensor camera (like a point-and-shoot) since small-sensor cameras are visibly grainier. But once you reduce the picture to 1000 pixels or less, the grain for each small group of pixels is averaged out and disappears, so I can't tell. The camera does seem to have good dynamic range (i.e. .the white aircraft skin, AND the bright reflection of sunlight on the fuselage, AND the darker background, are pretty well exposed) which means that it's probably not too cheap a camera (since a cheaper camera would either lose the darker stuff into shadows or blow out the whites) and that it was used by someone who knew to lower the exposure by about one f-stop (otherwise the whites in the fuselage would have been blown out, since the majority of the frame is dark-ish background and that's what the camera would naturally expose to unless the photographer changed the settings). But the statue and the plane seem to be in good focus, which indicates a narrow aperture, which indicates that the camera was small, because an SLR with a narrow aperture would probably show visible dust spots (since this photographer doesn't seem to be too keen on Photoshop post-processing). So, really hard to tell.

Clioman said...

We're told that one of the F-16s accompanying Obama's VC-25 was from the Alabama Air National Guard. Has anybody asked THEM what their role was in this, via FOIA or otherwise? If nothing else, they'd at least know if the accompanying airplanes each had one seat or two.

tommy said...

The stall characteristics mentioned by emailer wouldn't be relevant at the speeds they would be doing this. The speeds a 747 would be flying doing something like this would be quite easily matched by any of the modern military fighter aircraft. It is after all the reason they use them as chase planes.

I very much doubt the picture was taken by the pilot of the f-16, the rules concerning cameras in the cockpit of fighter aircraft are (or at least were when I did it) very strict, and no one would volunteer that they broke them. Everything else is essentially correct.

As far as trying to obtain the names of the crew to ask them, most likely if you went through all the channels to get the documents, the space for the aircrew name would simply be filled in with...on file.

DiscerningTexan said...

My friends have been saying I'm nuts for suggesting that I think that AF1 was filled with BHO donors getting paid off for their $$$$$$ contributions to The One.

There is no other explanation that makes sense. That is one of the most uninspiring photos I have ever seen. Unless the point was to show that The Presidency > Liberty.

Where the hell is the media on this?

Alan said...

Let's wait and see if Caldera gets a sweetheart of a job posting somewhere with ties to the Dems. That'll tell at least part of the story.

tim maguire said...

This post will probably get lost in the crowd, but at this point I think we can definitively say that AF1 was NOT filled with big time Obama donors. If Demo-muckety mucks were on board drinking their lattes and eating arugula while gawking slackjawed out the window thinking happy thoughts about how important they are, you can bet your sweet bippy that within 10 minutes of landing, they would all be sitting in the nearest wine bar regaling the crowd with droll NPR-ready stories of the preciousness of their big moment. After all, why be important if you can't lord it over...everyone?

The fact that we are still asking who was on board is itself good evidence that it wasn't a VIP joy ride.

Besides, I can easily imagine the Key Stone cops running around the White House thinking this would have made for a cool christmas card photograph.

tree hugging sister said...

(IMHO, best one ever.)

Anonymous said...

Another problem with the big donors problem: you people need to recall that Obama did not need big donors. He was awash in cash and micro-donations.

The George Lucas thing makes some sense, though we'll obviously never see this concept in the movie now. I can't imagine, though, that anyone though the political risks would be worth it for such a stunt, or how they couldn't have foreseen that the resulting footage would be useless.

I still say that something involving spying and spy technology is the only reasonable answer. If you look at this as something that was necessary and then consider that the cover-up story is impossibly lame, it makes some sense. The story is full of holes and weird because it's the best they could do under the circumstances.

Dymphna said...

Umm. People. George Lucas made a whole universe with this thing called F/X. He doesn't need the real AFOne. He could've made a hell of a scene from his computer.

California Baby Boomer said...

to airshowfan:

very good input on this, thanks.

"The B-25 is the ideal camera ship (it has openings in every direction, where the gun turrets used to be; Most Hollywood aerial footage is shot from B-25s,"

thanks for describing the B-25 "Heavenly Body" Of course, you know this plane very well, stop by and visit us in Van Nuys!



Anonymous said...

What's up with the stars and stripes on the tail? Photoshopped? The stripes are at a 45 degree angle, whereas in every other image I've seen posted it's a normal U.S. flag.

The Comedian said...

That's Moire patterning from the image being resized.

Anonymous said...

This has, of course, been discussed at length on numerous blogs. I would like to address a single point. A previous commenter wrote:

"The F-16 family of aircraft does in fact have two seater trainer versions (however, I haven’t a seen a photograph of the F-16s accompanying the 747 that has sufficient clarity to determine if either is a trainer version."

Please direct your attention to the photographs I have posted at Gulf Coast Pundit:

The difference between the single and two-seat versions of the F-16 is quite obvious. Unless photos were badly out-of-focus, it would be easy to tell if the plane was one or the other. In addition, I have heard that the 187th, the unit that provided the chase planes, does not operate the two-seat F-16D.

The Comedian said...

Flickr provides an answer.

F-16D of the 160th FS of the 187 ANG

Anonymous said...

I could, of course, be mistaken...

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