The Boeing VC-25, known as Air Force One when the president is on-board, made another visit to San Francisco a short while ago. I had previously gone out to try and get this aircraft when it was in town. One visit got there shortly after it had left. Another got there in time but the weather was a lot less than ideal. I wrote about the missed opportunity here and the slightly more successful time here.
The weather forecast for the time of departure was not good. Arrival had been around the time I was flying home a few days before so I had been more interested then in whether our flight was going to be delayed. With the weather looking poor, I was not making a plan to go. Instead I was visiting some people in Hayward to discuss another aviation project. As it happened, we wrapped up at about the right time for me to make the dash across the bay to SFO so I figured I would go. The rain had been bad but it did appear that things might be clearing up.
I got to the airport and could see that the VC-25 was still parked up. Aircraft were still arriving and departing so I knew I had some time. I just hoped it hadn’t all been delayed without me knowing. I hadn’t been there long when I got a visit from law enforcement. The big lens obviously got some attention. We had a chat and my details were verified but everything was ultimately cool. The cop was very friendly. As we finished up, I noticed that things had got very quiet. Nothing was arriving or departing – a good sign! The only thing airborne was a Coast Guard MH-65 in their new paint colors.
Meanwhile, the sun was making periodic peeps through the clouds. Was I actually going to get reasonable conditions? I could see the APU was running on the jet and a little while later, the beacon started flashing and the stairs were pulled away. Given that they don’t hang around, I figured we should see something soon. Sure enough, they taxied out from the parking area and headed for runway 28R via the taxiway on the opposite side of the peninsula on which the runways are built. A little worse for me with heat haze (yes, even on a crappy day the heat haze was still a problem).
I was aligned with the end of the runway so the jet taxied up and turned straight towards me before lining up and pushing the throttles up. The secret service vehicles that had followed it down the taxiway turned and raced alongside for a short while until the speed was too much for them. Unlike last time, they must have been a lot heavier because they used a lot of the runway before rotating. Then they climbed away. A successful shoot and time to head home!