I have had a pretty poor run of luck when it comes to Air Force One. I have seen it overflying in the distance, I have seen the VC-25 on the ramp at Davis Monthan but was thirty seconds from being parked when it took off and I had a failed effort to get it at SFO which I mentioned in this previous post. It was back in San Francisco recently and I decided I was going to have another go.
I tracked the TFR online and, this time, it didn’t change. I, therefore, got to SFO with plenty of time before the departure. The weather was not fantastic but there was generally a clear spot over the airport so I was a little optimistic. As the intended time for departure approached, the cloud rolled in. Of course it did! Nothing I could do about that. Meanwhile, departures off 01 had stopped (I am not sure whether that was related to the Fleet Week air show or not) and a bunch of planes were lined up to depart from 28. Then they all stopped.
I assume the President had come by road as there was no helicopter activity other than a police chopper over the highway. The beacons were on as I heard the sound of a jet going around. It briefly appeared through a gap in the clouds and was a United 737. I guess they had just timed it wrong. I have no idea whether they held or diverted. Suddenly the VC-25 was rolling. It taxied rapidly along the northern taxiway by 28R with a couple of Secret Service vehicles following close behind. Without a pause it turned onto 28R past the waiting airliners and powered away. The Secret Service chased it for a while down the runway but it was airborne pretty swiftly. I guess it was lightly loaded. A few minutes later everything started moving again. Another ten minutes and the sun was out. Typical!