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.
Date posted: August 25, 2009
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