Friday, December 05, 2003

More Flight Nonsense

Story still makes no sense:

The White House yesterday made a third approach in its attempt to land the controversy about whether a plane spotted Air Force One on its secret flight to Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day.

Press secretary Scott McClellan said that the aircraft inquiring about Air Force One was, in fact, "a non-UK operator." The spokesman said there had been a British Airways plane "that was in the vicinity of Air Force One as it was crossing over for a good portion of that flight." The presidential pilots thought the query "was coming from a pilot with a British accent, and so that's why they had concluded that it was a British Airways plane."


The White House released a statement from Britain's air traffic service confirming that a "non-UK operator" radioed the control center in Swanwick, England, at "0930 Zulu" time to ask if the aircraft behind it was Air Force One.

That seems to check out, but mysteries remain. Who was this "non-UK operator"? And how is it that a British Airways plane could have been with Air Force One "for a good portion" of the flight if the president's plane was averaging 665 mph -- far beyond the speed of commercial aircraft?