WASHINGTON (AP) - In a footnote to President Bush's surprise trip to Baghdad, the White House identified the location and time when Air Force One was spotted en route to Iraq last week by a British Airways pilot.
The sighting occurred Thursday morning, just after daybreak, off the western coast of England, said White House communications director Dan Bartlett. If it had led to public disclosure of Bush's trip, the mission would have been scrapped, Bartlett said.
He said the pilot of the British Airways plane radioed the tower in London and reported the apparent sighting of Air Force One. The tower, apparently relying on phony flight-plan information filed to protect Air Force One's identity, radioed back that it was a Gulfstream Five, a much smaller plane.
Bartlett said he had left the wrong impression Thursday that the conversation had taken place between the British Airways pilot and the pilot of Air Force One, Col. Mark Tillman.
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
BA pilot sighting update:
by Atrios at 18:44