Reports are emerging describing a potential near miss with an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) while the C-32A that President Trump was flying on was making its final approach into Andrews Air Force base on Sunday evening. POTUS was returning from Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster New Jersey when the reported near miss took place.
AFP's Sebastian Smith reported on the incident shortly after disembarking the highly modified 757-200, stating:
"@realDonaldTrump just landed at Andrews on AF1. Shortly before, while descending, we flew right over a small object, remarkably close to the president’s plane. Resembled a drone though I’m no expert."
The danger posed by hobby and other commercially available drones to aircraft isn't anything new. The Air Force themselves have had a number of very close calls with drones in recent years. You can read those reports in this exclusive War Zone piece linked here.
The FAA is pushing for new regulations on unmanned aircraft in order to better track and potentially prosecute those who use the craft outside of the rules or for nefarious purposes. Meanwhile, many say such a move won't do anything to actually stop these incidents from occurring and other measures that are less invasive could do more good.
The fact that a drone can come so close to the world's highest-profile and most heavily monitored and defended variant of a commercial aircraft is troubling for obvious reasons. As we have said for many years, one of the biggest threats posed by lower-end drones is to VVIPs, and especially when they are on the move.
We have reached out to the 89th Airlift Wing for more information on the incident, we will update this post if new details come available in the coming hours.
We are still waiting to get an official statement from the 89th Airlift Wing, but they did give us this update:
Regarding your queries about reports of a UAV near an 89th Airlift Wing C-32
aircraft during its landing Sunday, Aug. 16.
Currently, we are waiting for an approved statement from the White House.
Further details are scheduled to be pushed concurrent with that statement. We
do not have an estimate for the statement's release, but will push to you all
Thank you for your patience!
This is the official statement from the 89th Airlift Wing on the incident. It was developed in cooperation with the White House Military Office. It tells us nothing and doesn't even characterize the event, but this is what they are stating officially at this point:
JOINT BASE ANDREWS. Md., Aug. 17, 2020 –
The 89th Airlift Wing is aware of the report. The matter is under review. The 89th Airlift Wing’s C-32A aircraft landed safely without incident. Please direct all queries to the 89th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stars and Stripes writes:
The device, which was yellow and black and shaped like a cross, was off the right side of the plane. It was seen by several passengers on the jet, which occurred shortly before the plane touched down at 5:54 p.m.
There are quite a few drones available to anyone that match that description. I wouldn't be surprised if Special Air Mission aircraft will be flying unpredictable patterns into Andrews AFB for the foreseeable future.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com