Photography by Ian L. Sitren

SAM 44

That is Special Air Mission 44 carrying President Obama. Until a few hours before the designation would have been Air Force One. On Friday, I waited in the rain just South of the runway for the arrival. I have been there before photographing Air Force One but always in bright sunny weather. Visibility was very limited but I knew it was coming in from listening to the control tower.

I heard it first, but coming from the wrong direction, behind me and not where I would have usually seen it. Just appearing as a ghost out of the clouds, that giant 747 had added power and was turning East away from lining up on runway 31 left. I fired away with my camera as it again disappeared into the dark clouds.

SAM 44 headed back up to higher altitude to await possible better weather, I lost track of how much time elapsed, maybe an hour. From the conversation with the control tower I knew it was coming back on final approach. From my vantage point the weather conditions looked even worse. Then I saw that ghostly apparition, slightly visible in the dark clouds and rain, go around again as I fired away with my camera.

Did 20 minutes go by or maybe 30 when I heard the pilot advise the tower that they were deciding on diverting to another airport. Another 10 minutes and the pilot advised that they were diverting to March Air Reserve Base and requesting clearance to 10,000 ft. Not long after that, requesting clearance to 17,000 ft and then on the way to March.

I must say I find the photographs I shot really interesting, and as one person said, very historical. Within 90 minutes I had them online with Zuma Press, one of the largest photo press agencies in the world. All in all, I am going to remember this for a long time to come. Thanks!

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2 responses

  1. Great story. Great photos. And yes, truly historic. Congratulations.

    January 23, 2017 at 5:59 pm

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