With the President being a Chicago resident, it is not uncommon for him to be in the city from time to time and a presidential movement means some unusual aircraft. Given all of this, it might be surprising that I have not got any pictures of Air Force One or Marine One since he has been president. Usually I am not aware of his movements until after the event and I can’t always drop everything to go out even if I did know.
Recently, he came home for the weekend. A few friends had mentioned the arrival and departure schedule for Air Force One so I did consider whether to head out. The arrival wasn’t practical but the departure was on a Sunday evening which I could manage. As it happened, I had been out earlier in the day and coming back into the city I saw how bad the traffic was heading out of town and decided that going to O’Hare was going to be no fun at all. Besides, you are always wondering what runway will be sued and might find yourself totally out of position anyway.
Instead, I decided to try and get some pictures of Marine One. It picks him up on the lake-shore south of the city to transfer to O’Hare so might provide an alternative opportunity. I headed down to a location I thought might be good. As I drove Through Grant Park, the two CH-46E Sea Knights that accompany him flew over shortly followed by the VH-3D. I was a bit miffed that I wasn’t a few minutes earlier so I could have got them arriving but never mind.
I found a parking place – no mean feat on a sunny Sunday by the lake – and wandered to the water to find a spot to wait. Then I waited – quite a long time. A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is issued when the President moves. I knew the times it was active but he can go any time in that range. This time it was later in the range. I watched the boats on the lake, the police helicopter checking us all out and the police boats stopping people getting where they weren’t supposed to be.
Finally, I saw the first of the two VH-3Ds take off. Followed by the second and then the Sea Knights, they took off to the south, away from me! This wasn’t promising. At least they might turn left and come back up the lake. No, they turned right and went inland. I was feeling a touch annoyed by this development. Then things got better. They continued their turn and headed right for me. They passed over the lake giving me a great view with the sun behind me. They are a bit shiny which is tricky with the sun but in the end I got the shot. It was worth the wait.
Rob – Nice shots! Both of the VH-3Ds you got have the “newer” paint scheme which was introduced a few years back. The new “breen” color has quite a bit of metal flake in it and thus, the shinier appearance. One of the HMX-1 crew mentioned that the new paint was applied because it was easier to keep the aircraft clean!
It certainly does look nice although the reflections on a sunny day make getting the shot a little trickier!