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Why is there a blue and white government plane flying around Wilmington Airport (ILM)?

Patrick Gannon

If you see a large aircraft that doesn’t belong to one of Wilmington International Airport’s regular carriers (US Airways, for example), it just might be part of the presidential and vice presidential fleet of aircraft.

The federal government has an arrangement with ILM whereby pilots of those government birds use ILM’s runways to train for landings, said Jon Rosborough, ILM airport director.

Depending on the day, you might have seen one of the aircraft used by the U.S. Air Force to carry the vice president. When the vice president is on one of those planes, it’s known as Air Force Two, the air-traffic-control call sign used by the Air Force for aircraft carrying the VP. You might also have seen a smaller blue-and-white plane used to transport foreign or domestic dignitataries, such as the leaders of foreign countries or federal elected officials, Rosborough said.

The planes come from an Air Force base outside Washington, D.C., so it takes them less than an hour to get to ILM, Rosborough said. They will typically do a dozen or so “touch and goes,” Rosborough said, and then head home.

“They never land. The wheels touch, then they go back up,” he said.

Rosborough said the training doesn’t interfere with ILM’s air traffic. The pilots arrange their training around ILM’s commercial schedule.

It was just today — Aug. 25, 2009 — when the vice presidential aircraft made an appearance at ILM.

“It was in this morning,” Rosborough said.

Air Force One

One of the Boeing aircraft used by the Air Force to transport the president or vice president practices landings Jan. 11, 2011, at Wilmington International Airport. (StarNews photo by Paul Stephen)

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4 Responses to “ Why is there a blue and white government plane flying around Wilmington Airport (ILM)?”

  1. On August 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm Mike Rose wrote:

    Hey, I’ve seen that plane as well as the bigger boeing c 32 that usually carries the vp if hes coming in. I see them doing touch an go’s all the time and have alot of pictures of them. I was wondering though if you were to know of any type of schedule they might have to make it easier for me to get some good photos. I saw Air Force one practicing the other week but I didnt have time to make it to the airport to get a good view of it.

  2. On September 1, 2011 at 9:06 pm Wayne wrote:

    The C-32 (757) is NOT larger than the VC-25 (747).

  3. On September 2, 2011 at 8:09 pm Ron wrote:

    The C-32 (757 most commonly used as Air Force Two, and the one I see most often doing checks here) IS bigger than the plane in the picture. That bird is the C-40, which is a Boeing 737.

  4. On March 12, 2013 at 8:30 pm Rick Tufts wrote:

    Glad I came across this information on this aircraft. I was in Wilmington this past weekend (9Mar2013)competing in the Azalea Festival Triathlon at UNCW, and noticed the C32 making his runs.
    Figured it was the state department aircraft or something in that rhelm.

    Thank you again for posting the answers….
    Rick Tufts

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