By Marjorie Gray, web content assistant
Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing
Students, faculty and staff of Everett Community College’s Aviation Department flanked the Paine Field chain-link fence, joined by many other onlookers Tuesday, anticipating the arrival of President Obama in Airforce One. The Governor, Jay Inslee, and other officials, greeted the President as he boarded the Marine One helicopter to view the Oso landslide area and meet with victims’ families and the hard-hit local community.
The Presidential 747, scheduled to arrive at 12:30pm., was running late. Around 12:40, murmurs of excitement rippled through the crowd. Two tiny lights, the only ones that could lawfully be in the sky in this area at this time, grew larger as the plane approached. Cell phones and cameras were raised to capture the moment of the sleek jet’s arrival.
The plane taxied around the tarmac and I was able to catch a few good photos through the links of the fence.
The plane came to a stop on the other side of Paine Field, where our view was blocked by the air traffic control tower. A group of people walked from a building on the edge of the field in the direction of the plane. I assume this was the Governor, Senator Patty Murry, Representatives Susan Delbene and Rick Larsen, and the other officials and media representatives. A few minutes later, two helicopters, Marine One and its twin HMX-1, climbed into the sky, flanked by three or four Marine MV-22 Ospreys.
The Center of Excellence staff had noticed the unusual-looking Osprey aircraft on the field since late last week. They appeared as a cross between helicopters and airplanes, and looked rather formidable with their war-olive paint and powerfully bulky physiques. When they took off for practice flights, their noise and vibrations shook the entire Aviation building.
On Wednesday, the day after the big event, there was more interesting action on the tarmac of Paine Field. Two giant C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes were loaded, one each with a folded-up Marine HMX-1 helicopter! Apparently, this is the norm for these huge cargo planes to transport the President’s helicopters, supplies and sometimes the Presidential limousine and secret service vehicles for long-distance executive trips. I learned a lot the past two days about Presidential aviation, and what an organizational feat it is to transport the President and his fleet. The V-22 Ospreys are built by Bell Boeing. The Airforce One plane was coming for a visit to its own birthplace, Boeing, Everett. Boeing may be the sole bidder on a new fleet of Presidential aircraft, to take the place of the aging fleet, which will reach their planned 30-year life span in 2017, according to Bloomberg News, Sept. 12, 2013.
Editor’s note: The Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Manufacturing is located at Paine Field in Everett, WA within the Everett Community College Aviation building.