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More thoughts about Air Force One’s “photo-op”

It’s ironic. Our government felt perfectly comfortable flying the Boeing 747 that is used as Air Force One at low level, burning as much as 4,000 gallons per hour, for a “photo-op” with two F-16s and the Statue of Liberty in the background. CNN says this “photo-op” cost taxpayers $329,000.


This same government strongly condemned the automobile manufacturers, banks and other companies for using their airplanes as productive tools for managing their businesses. This has had a devastating effect on the manufacturers of general aviation aircraft, from light single-engine airplanes to the largest business jets. The U. S. is the world’s leading manufacturer of general aviation aircraft, an industry which provides hundreds of thousands of jobs and a positive effect on our balance of payments.


As George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”


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  1. Matt

    $329,000… I don’t buy that… How many seats do commercial 747’s fly and how much $ does it cost to fly across the atlantic per seat? I don’t think they flew AF 1 that long for the picture.

  2. Jay

    Yeah they could have Photo shopped it, But they did it and frankly it did not bother me. I live in NYC by the way! When did we be come a bunch of wussies? This is the land of the brave and its time we all started acting like it.

  3. john guerin

    As a former NYS Assemblyman, I can assure you that there is no shortage of selfishness and stupidity in the State Governments, and these folks “graduate” to Washington DC…They condemn General Aviation, and than have the hubris to have the speaker(Madame Pelosi)… fly privately on Air Force Jets so that she can avoid mingling with normal citizens…AMERICA has become a Feudal System…and they think we are the serfs.

  4. greg

    I have a great idea for president obama. Why dont you sell all the presidential aircraft and put that money toward the national debt. The president does not really have a need to fly anymore, we have the internet, and he should be able to teleconferance just like many top excutives are doing these days.

  5. Dietmar

    This is of course no isolated event.”Our” government wastes “our” money far worse than any drunken sailor – every day.Everywhere.Sure at times there is some public benefit – occasionaly.But for the most,”our” servant is a self serving beast way out of control

  6. Sid White

    ….I don’t buy into the training flight required at all. The pilots/crew have designated flight training accounted for. So, this was really a …”Let’s go fly a photo-shoot and have some fun” The A1 crew should be slapped severely above the head and shoulders for getting sucked into that one!…just an after-thought, but are you telling me a good IT/photo/computer guy/girl couldn’t couple up a photo with the 747 foreground and the Statue of Liberty in the background? Come On folks we are being had by a wasteful government…let’s all follow the travels of A1 over the next year and prove my point. Cheers!

  7. Jason

    I was just layed-off from a corporate flying job because the company was concerned about their image in that the cost of operating a jet would reflect negatively upon them. So we parked our jet which probably takes 6 months to burn as much fuel as they did on their photo shoot. Now because the government ridiculed some companies for owning jets, I’m looking for a job in a seemingly impossible job market….Pitiful.

  8. Bill Burr

    If it was just a photo op, bad move. I was in the Air Force and for years knew that Air Force flying crew member have to fly to stay current. We would go up in aircraft with up to four completely different crews and take turns fly making takeoffs and landing..etc. If the crew or crews on the B747 was also preforming recurring training, I know these flights are planned for in the units yearly budget, did CNN check with the 89th squadron to see if anything other the the photo op was going on with the aircraft? In order for crews to stay current and their skills to remain sharp the plane is going to be flown and seen around the country.

  9. Greg

    Wasteful government spending at its best, not to mention the stupidity of doing this over a still gun shy city causing undue panick. Give your head’s a shake people…this flight had nothing to do with training as AirForce Ones pilot’s are kept plenty current on the job!

  10. Tim

    Plain crazy. After the media ripped Ford, GM, and Chrysler for flying to DC (resulting in untold damage to GA), the government pulls this one off. I can go along with training (I do plenty of recurrent training myself!), but to go to NY and fly there? Why didn’t they stay inside the ADIZ around DC? And using a pair of fighters to take the pictures? Sure, we can fly the 747 at 180 knots, the guys in the chase planes can get some good shots as they go past us at 200+

  11. Joe Dude

    It’s already been stated that they would have flown those aircraft hours regardless if it was used for a photo ops. Thus the $300K would have been spent anyways, photo or no photo.

    • Doug

      Most of us are flying far fewer hours this year, how about we fly A1 fewer hours this year. And since 35% of the GA fleet is grounded due to lack of $s I think we should ask our government people to follow suit.

      Its all good to ridicule business while flying around in a 747, lets see what you think waiting in line at Gate 34

  12. Gerd Meissner

    Let’s be realistic here: If they had photoshopped it, the outcry from certain quarters would even be louder, like “Obama administration takes page from Stalin’s book, doctors photos”.

    On the other hand, at least two folks were prevented from even becoming members of this administration because of lesser foul-ups. Whoever was responsible for this should be held responsible.

    Don’t they have anyone who can advise them on (General) Aviation on a common sense level? If such person/s exist/s, they certainly weren’t asked on their input re. this fly-by…

  13. Nish Patel

    Well, saying that taxpayer money was wasted for a photo-op is misleading at best. These flight hours were counted as training hours, and they would have been flown, at the same cost, whether or not a photo-op was the mission.

  14. Carl

    Wow. I hope they like the picture. If our economy was booming and the national debt was $0 then, yeah, take a spin in the 747 for a photo op (after you warn the people of NY) but with us borrowing $ from the Chinese to run our country, we don’t have a dime to waste. If I ran my business that way I’d be bankrupt and there wouldn’t be a bail out for me because my business is in the “Evil General Aviation” industry!

  15. Ron Wagner

    I spent years as a pilot in the Presidential Wing at Andrews AFB. I can tell you that with the level of people we fly out of there, security is the top priority.

    Imagine how loud you would all be screaming if giving advanced notice of this flight had been the key that gave terrorists the opportunity to destroy that aircraft.

    Remember the old saying about walking a mile in someone’s mocassins before you criticize them. You folks have no idea of the constant security threats that are out there against aircraft based at Andrews AFB. Giving away the route of flight and time on a low-level run the one of the Air Force One birds would have been irrresponsible!

    To put the cost of this flight in perspective with our annual national budget, if you earned ten million dollars a year, this flight would have cost you one dime. Come on! This isn’t busting our budget.

    • Danny Pendergrass

      Tell that to all the folds that are out of work right now. Penny’s on the dollar…. Sounds like a Loan officer…

  16. Ken

    This is a typical government screw up. The person(s) responsible for this should be made to address the american public and apologize for costing the tax payers this outlandish amount of money. President Obama should address this issue.

  17. Don Koch

    What are ‘new’ photos of a Air Force One 747 needed for?These planes haven’t been re-painted to suit the new president, who admittedly likes to be in control of everything and if they don’t already have file photos of this location, then that was not part of any official explaination.
    Typically,there is more denial than anything else about this significant snub at the New York populace, who haven’t forgotten what did happen as a result of large aircraft flying excessively low in that area and what that can create.
    The entire White House plan has negative overtones, as (positive)advance publicity could have been used to swell the image of a president who is so obviously careful about his public image. Add to the negative, the cost authorization from an administration that has no fear of spending into financial oblivion, while propagandizing that’taxpayers’should be increasingly more economically in their private lives.
    No matter what is stated and who gets ‘sacked’, the president is directly implicated in this mis-use of one of the special aircraft that are designed, built,equiped and reserved for only presidental use or presidental back-up.
    Add this to what is already a list of disregard what I do but do not disagree with what I say attitude, displayed by this president.

    • Roy G Biv

      Why can’t we send a bill to BO for his personal use of the asset that we pay for. Other CEOs must reimburse the company for personal use of assets why not King Obama.

  18. John Krummel

    I find it interesting the 89th Airlift Wing is not considered by the media or executives of the United States to be a corporate flight department. We as taxpayers allow our corporate executives (Congresspeople, Senators, and those who think they are high ranking officials) to use these assets for all kinds of travel both business and private. Our elustrious speaker of the house uses a Boing 757 on a weekly basis to fly across the country to be with her family. The Gulfstream V was to small. What is this costing the corporation (US Taxpayers) share holders? Flying a Boing 747 at low altitudes for a photo op presents the image of a government saying “do as I say, and not as I do.”

  19. Jim Smith

    You can’t get a decent photo from a FIGHTER already.

    It was a PSY-OP not a Photo Op. It was a diversion

    for the controlled media to keep their bimbos blabbing

    about it all day to help black out the torture

    war crimes topic and all the rest of the monsterous

    crimes our organized criminals up near the top are doing.

    And we pay half our income to support.

    They don’t need a $350,000 photo from a screaming fast

    fighter through a cockpit window. Nobody does. It’s not

    feasable. LIES LIES LIES.

  20. Tschumi

    How much more arrogant than such a behavior can you be?The Government lives on 100% public money and should do with it what it requires from others: rational spending.

  21. Stan

    Since they were undoubtedly going to spend the flight hours and money on routine training anyway, the operations planners and public affairs staffers really missed a great promotional event with the city of New York.

    They should have announced for weeks the date and times they were planning to have this fly by and encouraged residents and tourists to come out to watch and cheer and get some great photos. How many people have seen Air Force 1 in a fly by complete with trailing F-16s; very few, I imagine.

    They really blew a great PR event with this thoughtless act!

  22. David J. Arts

    While it is hard to believe that anyone in their right mind would conceive and execute such a stunt, I believe this arrogance and ignorance epitomizes what is to come.

  23. michael plummer


    Couldn’t agree with you more. Where does it say that our government is above the criticisms leveled at every other person when it comes to wasteful actions; this is one big waste. I’m confident it cost at least double what you’ve indicated; salaries, maintenance, insurance, etc.

    Mike Plummer

  24. Jesse

    That move was very inconsiderate and wasteful, especially when compared to what has been happening with the automakers and
    financial istitutions in our country. The automakers, the only
    ones who are actually producing anything, are the ones who got
    the worst treatment. And the ones who get treated worse than that
    are the poor flyers who inadvertently fly into that NAZIistic
    ADIZ over DC.
    But before I start writing what I really think, I want to write a
    comment to all those who are making a positive impact on our
    aviation community, such as John and Martha King. There are
    a lot of positive things going on in technological development,
    training, and sharing good times with one another that will carry
    us through. Thanks for all you do to help others. I have been greatly
    benefitted by many kind people who have made it possible for me to
    make my flying experience satisfying and safe.

  25. Rob S.

    It’s a no-brainer that the US Gov’t should have notified the public well in advance of this exercise. In addition, if the sole reason for this flight was a photo op that could have been done using Photoshop, US taxpayers have every reason to be infuriated and one or more people ought to lose their jobs over this. However, it would be interesting to note if there were other reasons for this flight. What if the main purpose of this flight was for proficency of the crew? Was there any maintenance performed on the aircraft recently and did that necessitate a flight? Were there other emergency procedures they were practicing or training for that’s supposed to be classified? In other words, if the photo op was more of an afterthought in which someone said, “as long as we’re going to be out there anyway (doing training, testing, proficency flying, etc) why don’t we get a photo op?”

    There is still no excuse for failing to inform the public but I wonder if there was more to it than just a photo op?

  26. jim hanson

    Thank you for HAVING an opinion–thank you for SHARING your opinion–and thank you for USING THIS TO PROMOTE POSITIVE CHANGES!

    All too often, people are afraid to stand up and say what’s on their mind because they are afraid of the “PC Police.”

    Being a pilot means not only accepting, but SEEKING responsibility. We ARE the way we ARE because we want to take control. You won’t find many people in aviation who are willing to stand by and be TOLD what to do.

  27. Lawrence

    Our Gov’t and other gov’ts spend fortunes on all kinds of advertising. What is so unusual? The way this was handled however, was dumb. I think the responsible parties apologized.

  28. Jacob Saunders

    Agree…Should Photoshop and saved that money.. That could have paid for a plane more lessons and The Kings Software for apiring me.

  29. gene

    Just remember, the types of folks who made this decision are the same types who are now deciding every detail of our economy and lives. Good luck comrades and hope that the powers that be have mercy on us all (or at least don’t notice us and send their “help” our way)

  30. Terry

    $395,000.00 WOW. Just for a picture. You know I took a fantastic picture of my airplane on the ground, I put it in a photo shop program, put my plane in a picture over Lake Powell and it looked as if I was flying it over the lake. The picture is mounted on my wall and I’m sure it’s as good as the one the just took of the Presidents plane and it only cost me $50.00 with frame and everything. Someone needs to tell them that you can accomplish the same thing for a Hell of a lot less. Who’s running the show?

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