Michelle Obama's Plane Has Near Miss At Andrews Air Force Base

Posted Apr 19th 2011 06:15 PMUpdated Apr 19th 2011 06:44 PM

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A scary thing happened to Michelle Obama and Jill Biden as they were landing at Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday: Their Boeing 737 on which they were flying en route from New York was involved in a near miss with a large cargo plane.

The air traffic controllers knew of the First Lady's flight, designated EXEC1F, a classification for flights carrying member's of the president's family, the Washington Post reports.

Obama and Biden's plane was ordered to do a series of S-turns to create more distance between it and the cargo plane, a C-17.

When that failed, and the air traffic controllers realized there were not enough space between the two planes, Obama and Biden's landing was aborted and ordered to circle.

The wake from an airplane can cause severe turbulence, and in extreme cases can cause planes to crash. The distance between a fully-loaded C-17 and any other planes must be 5 miles. In this case, the planes were 3.08 miles apart, the FAA reported radar showed.

In double trouble? Another air traffic controller at the Potomac Terminal Radar Approach Control, or TRACON, who claimed the planes were four miles apart.

An FAA manager said the controller exhibited "really bad controller technique. Not only did he get them too close, he told the [Andrews controller] that they were farther apart than they were."

An unnamed federal official told the Washington Post: "In the grand scheme of things, events like this happen fairly frequently. Unfortunately, this one involves a presidential plane."


The FAA has sent a team to investigate the incident.


This incident comes as the FAA is dealing with a slew of controversies over the abilities of their air traffic controllers, from sleeping on the job to watching movies during the late-night shifts. Last week an FAA official resigned over the controversy.




Filed Under: Air Travel, News

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